Excessive Detail

Home - About Us - Facebook

Phone apps aren't video games, and the people who play them aren't gamers.


Mobile phone apps are not video games, and the people who play them are not gamers. This opinion is one of such contention, voicing it in the past on gaming subreddits has actually seen me banned for "platform elitism"; which is just ridiculous. Rules intended to stop moronic fanboys from arguing about whether Xbox or Playstation "is da bestz", are not supposed to stop genuine discussion about gaming. but across the internet that's exactly what is happening.

Now, in the past, mobile phone apps had the capacity to become respectable games but for the most part, they simply didn't. Sure you can play genuine decent video games on a mobile phone, but we all know exactly what I'm talking about when I say "mobile phone apps". We're talking about things like 'Clash Of Clans' and 'Candy Crush'; apps that claim to be games but really all they really are, are manipulative skinner box programs designed to sell micro-transactions to the psychologically vulnerable. As someone who admittedly has an addictive personality I can and have in the past, been suckered in to paying for things like that. I am now purposelu using a USA account on PSN to add an extra layer of inconvenience and make it so that I can't easily use micro-transactions. I have effectively blocked my own access to the Playstation Store because I know that I'm not immune to such manipulation. The fact that I know how easily I can be manipulated into spending money when I'm actively aware of the tactics used, makes me genuinely concerned for the industry. I can only imagine how easily the unaware can be preyed upon by this system, and often these games purposely target children.

But even ignoring the monitization methods; when it comes to the general content present inb most mobile apps, I still don't feel they count as video games. The majority of mobile apps aren't substantive enough to be considered a video game under the same umbrella as modern mainstream games. They're way too simplistic and are often nothing more than idle clickers where you gather resources for no clear reason, (such as 'FarmVille') or they're rudimentary puzzle games where the game balance intrinsically linked to manipulating micro-transactions out of you by making it almost impossible to actually progress through certain levels without them (such as 'Candy Crush' or 'Plants vs. Zombies 2'). To compare these apps to modern games is the equivalent of comparing a 3-minute video on YouTube that's trying to con you into joining a multi-level marketing scheme to a Hollywood film production. It's ludicrous and while sure, both are video media you can watch on a television, no-one would take you seriously if you claimed they should both be considered under the same light.

Ultimately, what I want to achieve with this site, is the furthering of the media, and a garnering of respect for the medium of video games. While I don't want to be exclusionary, we have to properly define video games. This is the first step for me in defining what I mean when I say video games. Mobile apps do not count, they're not games, not even close; and playing them doesn't make you a gamer

Candy Crush

Common retort: "But how can you say they're not gamers? They play video games, so they're gamers!"

Simple answer. No. They're not gamers just because they play video games and that's such a simpering oversimplification that I question why anyone would even bother making the claim. Oh, and before people claim I'm creating a strawman, I've had this debate multiple times on Reddit and this was by far the most common response to me claiming people who play mobile apps aren't gamers.

The term "gamer" is presumably a label used to identify someone belonging to a certain group or subculture. As much as modern millenial cry-babies will complain that they "don't like labels", the fact is labels are useful in codifying people and allowing us to make psychological shortcuts in deciding how we treat people, how we communicate with them, how we associate with them. They're not oppressive, they're not stifling, they're not something you get to fucking choose! Either the label fits and it applies to you, whether you want it to or not, or the label doesn't fit and it doesn't apply to you, whether you want it to or not. This is what a label is and the fact that there are huge sections of society that need this explained to them is genuinely depressing.

So why can't the label "gamer", just mean "person who plays video games"? Because if it did it would apply to literally everyone on the bloody planet who has access to video games. We don't have a label for people who watch films, or read books, or listen to music; that would be ridiculous. We do have a term for enthusiasts for each of those things, often more than one. We have casual terms like film buff and bookworm, and more technical terms like bibliophile and audiophile. We could use the term "ludophile" for a fan of video games, but the term "gamer" is the casual term people use and it's already clear that this means someone for whom video games is one of their primary hobbies. That's what the term means in common speech and we all know that's what it means.

So someone who owns a PS3 and uses it mainly to watch Netflix and play Blu-Rays, but occassionally plays a bit of 'Call Of Duty' or 'GTA V', they're not gamers any more than you'd describe someone who'd read just the 'Harry Potter' books as a bookworm. They've read ONE series. So not only are mobile phone apps not games, even if they where the extreme casual nature in which they're used would exclude them from consideration when it comes to defining a gamer.

The fact is being a gamer isn't an achievement. It doesn't make you better than other people because you happen to be an enthusiast of video games. You have a hobby, so does almost everyone else on the planet. It's not excluding people, and it's not gatekeeping to say, "this person isn't a gamer". It's just a statement of fact. Gamers are people who are enthusiasts of video games, and play them as a primary pastime or hobby that defines a significant portion of their personality. That's what the label is. Playing casual mini games while waiting for the bus or while taking a tricky shit doesn't make you a gamer, and even if it did, mobile phone apps are not video games anyway.

So I reiterate my premise. Phone apps aren't video games, and the people who play them aren't gamers.