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Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:25 am
by Erik_Twice
I've noticed lately that many gamers don't actually seem to play games that much. They are gamers, through and through but overall most of the time seems to be spent on discussing the games far more than actually playing, to the point that I'm beginning to think that their actual hobby is the discussion rather than the game themselves. In that sense I think gaming is actually two hobbies if not many more:

The first is the actual act of playing games. (Self-explanatory)

The other is "gaming culture", discussing games, arguing on the internet and showing off your games. Basically, the whole sociocultural aspect of it. Some examples from the top of my head.

- The Boardgamegeek guy who has 600 different games and is backing 15 kickstarters.
- The kind of person who tweets for 8 hours straight about Gamergate.
- The NeoGAF poster discussing whether DLC is good or bad.
- The dancing game fan who isn't very good but loves hanging out around the machine.

Most of the examples that come mind are negative but I'm probably a good example of the later, actually, I like "gaming culture" stuff (Criticism, game history, talking about games) more than the games themselves and spend a disproportionate amount of time on it.

I think that the way we see gaming is very monolithic sometimes. I mean, the motivations of a guy restoring a Donkey Kong cab are very different than the motivations of a kid playing Minecraft and even apparently very similar groups are actually very different (For example, HG101, Racketboy and Shmups System 11).

What do you think?

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:13 am
by Exhuminator
After slucking around /v/ and NeoGAF for years I can confirm there are people who love to shitpost about discuss video games and video game culture, and yet hardly if ever actually play video games. I don't think this is exclusive to video gaming though. It's kind of like people who love to talk about sports but don't actually play sports themselves.

I can admit to enjoying debating the scholarly, cultural, and business aspects of gaming just as much as actually playing the things. It's why I endure vidja forums, because once you're 36 years old, you run out of real life peers who still give a damn about this hobby. (Or at least I did. :oops:)

If there is one thing I don't understand about modern gaming culture though, it's that so many people enjoy watching other people play video games on the internet. (I mean stuff like long Let's Plays for example, I don't mean review/analysis videos.) I'm not sure if folks are just vicariously playing games by proxy or what that's about really.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:43 am
by Ack
Exhuminator wrote:If there is one thing I don't understand about modern gaming culture though, it's that so many people enjoy watching other people play video games on the internet. (I mean stuff like long Let's Plays for example, I don't mean review/analysis videos.) I'm not sure if folks are just vicariously playing games by proxy or what that's about really.


In my case, I appreciate that it feels more like documentation of the game's content(which is actually similar to what I do for work). It lets me take a look at the contents of a game before I decide to track it down and often helps me decide what I want to play next. That said...I loathe commentary during these videos, so I actually prefer what are usually called Longplays as opposed to Let's Plays.

That said...at the end of the day, I genuinely enjoy playing games over all. Even with limited time, I play a lot of them. I also really enjoy beating games and recording my victories or discussing what I have just beaten or am currently playing.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:03 am
by BogusMeatFactory
I feel that in order to talk about gaming culture you should be playing games. I can't comment on a game or use examples in an argument I'd I have never played it. I am always a person that like to experience it before I can criticize it. You are talking to the guy who watched every twilight film in order to say that it genuinely stinks.

When it comes to retro games it is imperative that I replay the game I talk about because nostalgia can give me a bad rap. Sonic cd is a great example. I used to say it was the beat, but replaying it recently proved that my opinion has changed.

I love being in both camps though if playing and digesting.

As for let's plays, I am into them, but am very selective. You need either a very informative let's play or a genuinely funny mystery science theater 3000 style. If they are playing and commenting in real time it usually is rough.

Of course who am I to talk, I just posted a 3 hour video of me streaming everquest and chatting with cronozilla

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:39 am
by CRTGAMER
Erik_Twice wrote:The first is the actual act of playing games. (Self-explanatory)

The other is "gaming culture", discussing games, arguing on the internet and showing off your games.

With the exception of resellers, I think the two cultures actually intermingle. Both enjoy games, its just the time spent playing games vs talking about games such as this Thread. I admire the collectors that have thousand of dollars in their games, but do wonder that taken too far; searching and buying instead of allowing time to play the games. However, we all have that trap of looking for that one more hidden gem and posting our "games waiting to be played" list. :D

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:53 pm
by isiolia
BogusMeatFactory wrote:I feel that in order to talk about gaming culture you should be playing games. I can't comment on a game or use examples in an argument I'd I have never played it. I am always a person that like to experience it before I can criticize it. You are talking to the guy who watched every twilight film in order to say that it genuinely stinks.


I think that can depend on a lot. Someone that never has played games at all may have reasons behind that, which could make for valuable or interesting conversation as well. I don't mean overly-simplistic "it sucks" kind of talk, but exploring the lack of appeal/etc.

It's a natural thing, since nobody has the capacity to play/listen to/read/watch/etc every piece of media out there. Long as someone is open-minded, and accepts that their opinion is just that, then I wouldn't dismiss them. I'd just take what they say with a grain of salt.

I don't think it's necessarily two different hobbies, especially given how common it'd be for someone to play something regularly, even if it's not at the forefront of discussion. I'd put it all under an "enthusiast" type label. If people enjoy collecting and organizing and all, then that's fine too.


I see Let's Plays as more akin to, say, a talk show or something. The streamer(s) are kind a pseudo friend for the viewers. I think it's less about replacing playing the games, and more about a social/communal thing. Kinda like if you hung out with friends as they played through games.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:10 pm
by the7k
Oh yeah, there's definitely a lot of people taking part in "gaming culture" without playing games. Hell, I almost feel like every journalistic game blog has a quota that dictates that at least 90% of the people working there have to not enjoy playing games. Most forums and image boards seem to be the same way, endless amounts of shit-slinging and high-horsing over games that they haven't played.

That said, I think there's a lot of people who play games and aren't in anyway part of gaming culture. I work a retro game store and I'd say, almost just like that above figure, 90% of the people who come in don't get two damns or a crap about gaming culture or gaming blogs or let's plays or any of that, they just want to get a game to play.

But honestly, I can't talk. I love watching redlettermedia, YMS, IHE and several other movie reviewers yet I've probably only seen two or three movies this entire year.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:07 am
by Forlorn Drifter
I don't think I'd call getting into gaming culture a hobby per se, but I generally agree.

In general, I find that the people I know who do play a lot of games aren't very into gaming culture, and might miss out on some gems because of that, but otherwise get a surprising diversity and number of games. On the other hand, the folks I know who are really into gaming culture play a more selected group of games, and find those gems, but generally aren't into a wide variety of games and don't play as much overall.

Though, that's a very small subset of people and only my anecdotal evidence, so, ehh, stuff.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:44 am
by RyaNtheSlayA
Now this is a discussion I want to partake in since I tend to oscillate like crazy between various behavior patterns regarding gaming. However I also wouldn't hesitate to say I tend to spend far more of my time absorbed in the discussion of games than actually playing them. I also don't consider myself any less of a gamer for it. Stating that you like "gaming" as a hobby is about the same as saying you enjoy "music" as a hobby. That can mean a huge number of different things to different people and some of those different things can only relate to each other in a very broad sense. So I guess you could divide some of these things into their own hobbies but they all are under that large umbrella of 'this relates to gaming in some way'.

Just as an example; I personally find games (at least many of the ones I enjoy) to be pretty mentally exhausting and I don't necessarily want to afford the hobby the energy it can require. So I find other things I enjoy that relate to those things - for example watching streams of said games while chatting with friends. I wouldn't separate the two into two different hobbies. I feel like I'm still partaking in the same hobby although my actions and experiences in it differ wildly to the person who does nothing but plays games and never exposes themselves to watching or chatting about streams.

Re: Playing games and gaming culture: Two different hobbies?

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:52 am
by flash1987
Interesting discussion. I also find I jump around a lot. At the moment I'm playing a fair amount but also researching and building a front end for all my retro systems, this has severely limited the amount I play recently BUT overall I'm spending a lot more time on gaming related things.

I've never been into watching people play or YouTube streamers etc. But find tutorials on things incredibly helpful and inspiring to what I'm working on and forums like this one have helped a load to help me select the games I've missed out on and will at some point in the future increase the amount of actual gaming I do.

Either way I don't think either camp are less of 'gamers' although that is a term I loathe as it's far too loose a term to describe the vastly different kinds of people who enjoy video games and related topics.