The dispute between core Gamers and the casual ‘Gamers’ – yes I put that in quotations, because remember, as the ads tell us, they are NOT Gamers – has been going on around the internet world for a very long time. Core Gamers have always been very adamant and defensive of their title as Gamers, and have often looked down upon the casual crowd and at times even refuted the notion of calling someone who plays Farmville – for example – a Gamer. Playing Facebook games does not make you a Gamer. Your hot, blonde girlfriend who plays Guitar Hero with you every now and then is NOT a Gamer! How dare those casuals declare themselves Gamers! Heathens!…and thus the pitchforks come out and the war begins.
Below is one of these ads:
The interesting twist to this scenario that has plagued the internet for a very long time is that Nintendo has embraced that mentality and has ran with it by recently launching an ad campaign that does exactly that; it differentiates the Gamers from the casuals! What is the result? More pitchforks and more flaming and more butt hurt people on both sides of the spectrum of the argument.
This baffles me in more ways than one! Wasn’t the whole notion of the beautiful woman playing video games and being a –gasp – girl Gamer impossible? Shouldn’t she be full of pimples and weighing in at 800 pounds? We all know there are no girls on the internet, much less very attractive ones! Or so the stereotype on the internet tends to portray women, and brand them this way if they ever touch a game, much less own a system.
So what exactly irritates Gamers about this ad campaign? Why is the notion of differentiating casuals from Gamers so appalling and so offensive? Better yet, is that truly why this huge backlash is occurring, or is it because Nintendo has somehow cast such a negative light upon being a Gamer? If we delve deeper into issue, the question then becomes “HAVE they truly cast a negative light upon the title Gamer, or are people blowing it out of context”? Has Nintendo turned its back on the people who supported them before gaming in general became mainstream, or have they simply reached past their core fans and tried to reach out to another part of the market?
There are so many questions associated with this debate and this ad that it not only fascinates me as a writer, but also as a girl Gamer who has always been proud of the title of Gamer and proud of being able to keep up with my male colleagues when it came to discussions about the newest games and gadgets.
With the mission of finding out answers to these burning questions, I ventured out to the oprainfall team members, and asked them for their opinions on this issue. Each member expressed their opinions, and shed new light on the subject and controversy surrounding this ad campaign. (Stick around until the very end of the article on page 3 if you wish to be…amazed, insulted, and a little amused!)
First up is Ryan Tyner, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of oprainfall. He expressed the following opinion, which also touches upon the feeling of betrayal that this campaign has brought upon avid Gamers:
“I can see why Nintendo is doing this. Their money is not with the core gamers, it is with the casual gamers. It was not the core gamers that bought the majority of the 90 million Wiis out there. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense because they are targeting the majority of their audience with these ads. Personally though, I consider myself a gamer and I do not think there is anything wrong with being a gamer. It is almost as if Nintendo is saying that being called a gamer is some kind of derogatory name. I read so you can call me a reader. I go to movies so you can call me a moviegoer. And yes I play games, so you can call me a gamer.
It seems to me that Nintendo is becoming less and less the company for me, as a core gamer. I understand why they are doing it, they are following the money, and that’s fine. But I’m going to have to do my gaming elsewhere, where Gamers are accepted with open arms! I’m guessing that Sony or Microsoft will have a counter ad campaign with ” I am a gamer” or something similar. They would never insinuate it is not a good thing to be a gamer. I am a gamer Nintendo. You used to love me and I used to love you. There was a time where I never would have considered getting my gaming fix from another. What has happened?”
The issue of betrayal has often permeated a lot of the arguments against this ad campaign. Gamers feel betrayed and marginalized by this push to bring in casual ‘Gamers’. Gamers went against the grain and put up with a lot of negative stereotyping – ‘World of Warcraft’ stereotype, anyone? – and continued to purchase games and support these companies when the mainstream society did not even bat an eyelash at their products.
Another interesting opinion is given by Kyle Emch, one of oprainfall’s seasoned writers:
“I don’t really think their ad campaign is insulting gamers in any way. Nintendo is still offering games for people like me in the core demographic (Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Pokemon White 2, etc.). I’ve got nothing against Nintendo wanting to get non-gamers to use their systems. I just don’t think it’ll work. Thing is, most casual gamers have already moved on to their tablets, smartphones, and to their Facebook accounts to get their gaming fix. I’m sure there are some couples out there that were convinced to play Mario through the Wii or the DS. But there are far more casual gamers out there that thought of the Wii (and still do) as the Wii Sports machine. Why would they want a Wii Sports machine when they already have a Wii Sports machine? Indeed, why would they want a 3DS when their smartphone or tablet can offer most of the same casual gaming experiences, if not more?”
Kyle’s stance in this argument is also very valid and interesting. The question here is whether or not this ad will even work, when other mediums catered to casual gamers already exist and are well utilized by the masses. Has Nintendo made a mistake by insulting the Gamers in favour of the casual ‘Gamers’, and will the casual ‘Gamers’ even be reeled in by this new campaign tactic?