Are Mobile Gamers Real Gamers?
If you read the title of this article and thought to yourself, “No”, then it’s just about time that you grow the hell up. Modern society already has a lot of division, infighting, and injustice. The gaming subculture doesn’t need any of that.
To settle the argument quickly, we can simply refer to the dictionary definition of what a “gamer” is. Both the Merriam-Webster and Cambridge dictionaries (and others, for the matter) generally define a gamer as “someone who plays games.” Let’s use this as an example:
- Juan plays Call of Duty: Warzone on his PHP70,000 gaming PC. Call of Duty: Warzone is a video game. Juan is a gamer.
- Maria plays Adorable Home on her PHP10,000 smartphone. Adorable Home is a video game. Maria is also a gamer.
But of course, it’s not that simple. In any faction that contains a group of people who are intensely passionate at the given activity, gatekeeping is a common issue. In the world of gaming, the ones who partake in gatekeeping are typically those who discourage others from referring to themselves as gamers if they haven’t reached a certain level or don’t quality for a certain standard.
These types of people will take offense at someone who calls themselves a gamer, but only plays games on an implied inferior platform (i.e. mobile). They may also target those who only play casually and don’t have hundreds or even thousands of hours logged. And in some cases, it can be as petty as criticizing someone’s game or genre of choice as not hardcore enough.
So despite the fact that Juan and Maria from the earlier examples are both gamers by definition, there will still be some adult-children who will not consider Maria as a real gamer. What the *bleep* is a real gamer anyway?
Perhaps a real gamer, according to that argument, is a hardcore gamer — someone who takes games seriously. However, different types of people consider different things to be hardcore gaming.
According to a survey study from Quantic Foundry, men tend to consider playing games seriously as involving competition and challenge. This can be associated with genres like first-person shooters with competitive multiplayer gameplay where the objective is to climb the ladder and defeat your competition.
On the other hand, according to the same study, women tend to consider design and completion to be the cornerstones of serious gaming. Think of life simulator games like The Sims and Animal Crossing series that involve heavy customization and unlockable items.
Again, different genders — different people, for that matter, have different motivations for playing games at a high level. Therefore, no motivation is wrong. People play games for their own reasons, and one isn’t more correct than the other.
It’s no secret that people who gatekeep in the world of gaming are way more likely to be male. Since that is the case, this leads the “this is what a hardcore gamer plays” gatekeeping argument into murky waters. Misogyny infested waters. Yikes.
Another gatekeeping argument commonly seen is that certain gamers aren’t seen as real gamers simply because they haven’t invested nearly the same amount of money and time into the activity.
This is just absurd. Why does anybody need to spend a particular amount of resources to be considered a gamer? Here’s another analogy to consider. Just because the average joe who plays guitar at church once a week doesn’t have John Mayer’s skill, equipment, and accolades, doesn’t mean they’re not a guitarist.
Again, going back to the dictionary definition of a gamer — someone who plays games. No biases, no time and money requirements, no gatekeeping.
One who merely plays a few matches of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on their smartphone during morning commutes is just as much of a gamer as one who has spent tens of thousands of pesos and played hundreds of hours on a gaming PC.
Platform of Choice
Now, let’s circle back to the title of this article. At this point, pretty much everything discussed so far already debunks the argument that mobile gamers aren’t “real gamers”. The platform does not dictate anybody’s eligibility to be called a gamer, nor should it discourage anyone to refer to themselves as such.
But let’s make the case specifically for the mobile platform. It is, without a doubt, the number one platform for games. For both consumers and developers, it’s quite easy to enter the market. Even smartphones in the PHP5,000-PHP10,000 range are more than capable of playing most, if not any game. Mobile games also cost less to make compared to other platforms.
Both these factors contribute to the sheer amount of mobile games in existence. Based on reports from Statista, there are roughly 340,000 game apps on the Google Play Store and 410,000 on the Apple App Store. By comparison, we counted about 50,000 games combined for Xbox One, PS4, and PC (Steam, GOG, Battle.net, Epic Games, Uplay, Origin, Microsoft Store, Xbox Live).
And that huge library of games available for both Android and iOS doesn’t just entirely consist of the very simple, easy to play games we often associate with mobile. There are definitely quite a lot of gems there, including those that have become a cultural phenomenon (e.g. Angry Birds, Pokemon GO), ported versions of old games (e.g. Pac-Man, Metal Slug X, Final Fantasy series), and even games that have become bona fide esports (e.g. Arena of Valor, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile).
Do what you will
If you’re the gatekeeping “real gamer” type and you’ve made it this far into the article, I only have this to say to you — do what you will. I’m not here to stop you from exercising your right to free speech. But I do hope that moving forward, you will at least have the decency to let others do what they will. If someone who just plays mobile games casually wants to call themselves a gamer, don’t rain on their parade. After all, they are by dictionary definition, a gamer.
And for anyone reading this article that likes playing games, regardless of the platform, the type of game, the time and money spent — you are a real gamer if you consider yourself to be one. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise just because of their silly illusions of what a “real gamer” is.