This relation spéciﬁque to temporality as a means of constructing the purity of identity is then translated by the construction of pairs of oppositions linked to the ideal gaming course but also to the way of approaching games here and now. What the past brings is a stock of knowledge, of skills, which are necessary to make the group bet. What the past brings is a stock of knowledge, knowledge, skills, which are necessary to make the group bet. These can be related to the game itself, to know how to master easily a gameplay, to know the universe ﬁcionnel, but also a, a way of behaving that respects the implicit norms. The worst is then to be a noob, a rookie, a beginner, a person who asks for too much advice instead of forging his own experience, who does not live the game in the right way. As Vincent Berry (2012), for example, has shown, learning is at the heart of videogame practice and different modes of appropriation, more or less intense, can appear, which then allow individuals to become singularized.
All means are good to avoid being associated with the newcomers and to differentiate oneself from them. This distance can be built simply by playing where they are not present in an online game, like Marcus, 18 years old, an intensive player of the massively multiplayer online game Dofus (Ankama): “I actually play on an old server where there are only big levels so we are not too bothered by noobs”. It can simply be a question of making fun of them, it’s the case for Thomas, 21 years old, who shares his passion for a web series now finished (Pure Pwnage) whose slogan is “taking noobs to school since 2004” and whose main comic spring is to constantly question the authenticity of new players or the lack of intensity of their practice.
Rejection of the ﬁgure of the noob
In order to put forward the purer one of the gamer leads even then to assume certain stereotypes and clichés that are rejected when they come from the media sphere. This is how Soren, 26 years old, sums things up with a sentence that has all the makings of a mantra “it is better to be a no-life than a noob”. In other words, it’s better to spend too much time playing, which has an impact on your social life, than to be a bad gamer because you don’t have enough time, not having the right skills3 to use a word that is often used during discussions about the noob: “he often thinks he knows everything, he shows off for little, he relies on his equipment without being able to distinguish between stuff and skill” (Coralie, 23 years old).
In this context, being no-life, a pejorative expression, can then become a proof of authenticity: For me, you can be a gamer boy playing World of Warcraft but didn’t know how to be one. And then they’ll say “yeah I’m a no-life I play three hours a day”, uh no a no-life a real no-life it plays six-seven hours a day or more, so forget it! Me for twenty-eight hours, I once played without moving! (Jocelyn, 18 years old)What is emerging here is a form of ﬁerté linked to the intensity of the practice, to the point of assuming a form of deviation from the norms of society. The intensity, and thus the way of appropriating the medium and its diﬁcultés, is in effect a way of déﬁnir the gamer identity. Of course, everyone plays, but few play the same games as I do, etc.
It is a question of, through the intensity and time of play, going beyond learning and arriving at a sense of playfulness that provides a pleasure inaccessible to newcomers or those who play little, this is what Manuel Boutet (2012) calls “playing with style”. The other great ani-ﬁgure is that of the casual gamer, the occasional player. It can be compared to the previous ﬁgure since, by déﬁniion, to play little is to be a noob, but it implies a wider critique of the whole evolution of the industry and therefore, there too, relation to time. This critique is evident in Mathieu, 22, who takes a classic example, that of the care kit (used to treat his injuries in a game). In recent games, it is opposed to self-healing: it’s casualization, now everyone is regenerating, we’ve arrived in a culture where players no longer want to calculate how many life points or ammunition they have left, now the healing kits, which was the norm, is becoming an argument among indie players to attract hardcore gamers.
Creation of playful content
In this excerpt, Mathieu shows how much the gamer’s ﬁgure can influence even the creation of playful content and shows nostalgia for a golden age of the videogame diﬁculté, which transforms an evolution of the industry and the public into a source of singularization for those who remain as before. While hardcore gamers were the priority target of videogame production and marketing for several decades (Kerr, 2006), new ways of playing are challenging this adequacy and are opposed to the hegemonic representation of highly invested gamers. Jesper Juul (2009) déﬁnit the casual gamer as a person who has little time to devote to games and wants games that are easy to access as opposed to hardcore who likes games diﬁciles and spends a lot of time playing them. This déﬁniion is largely questioned by recent studies, such as Ludespace cited above, which shows on the contrary that gambling leads to gambling and that therefore big players also play a lot of games requiring little commitment (Rufat, Minassian, Coavoux, 2014). However, it is retained by the respondents as a valid distinction in the analysis they make of their practice and as a support for the criticisms addressed to the evolution of the industry. At this point, the genre’s question appears to be an important distinction.
For example, Adrienne Shaw shows in the study cited above that, having integrated the gendered norms of gaming ability, women find it harder to consider themselves “real” gamers, even when they gamble longer or more often than their male counterparts. Similarly, in her study on the practice of online video games, Catherine Driscoll (2015) observes that the gender distribution is now relatively balanced, which does not prevent young women from considering themselves to be more active than boys. The sample studied here does not include enough respondents to be able to draw conclusions on the subject of gender, but the representations of the fake geek girl or the fake gamer girl, stereotypes that are very widespread on the Internet4, seem to derive from the norms of authenticity analyzed in this article. It is simply a declination and an incarnation of the casual gamer, which is attributed to the feminine gender by default, to which can be added the question of the gaming medium, which today seems to be an important marker of differentiation, authenticity, and even the social legitimacy of the practice.
The importance of “config” PC
It may be the debate as to whether the console or the PC is the best means of playing, a debate that often sees gamers shelling out their “conﬁg”, that is to say, all the additions (and purchases) made to a computer to make it more competitive aﬁn to play recent games with ease. But this debate is also often questioned for its technical aspect by some people, who emphasize the importance of good gameplay: “this race for whoever has the powerful machine that annoys me, I know that many gamers are like that, but I don’t care, I just want a good game, that’s all, that’s why I like hard retro games like Super Meat Boy” (Damien, 23 years old). Those who, like here, reject the race for power still find a way to show their commitment and intensity. Damien questions one of the categories of a gamer’s value in order to call upon another one: that of the diﬁculté classic games. The real gamer is the one who plays as he or she does, but some media tend to put most respondents on the same wavelength when it comes to bringing them closer to a practice related to casual gamers: first the Wii console, from Nintendo, then the game on smartphones.
As for the former, it seems to represent everything that goes against the purity of the gamer subculture, and individuals are all the more virulent as Nintendo games are at the heart of the golden age of pioneers. The fact of no longer being the primary target is then experienced as a disappointment and is fatalistically noted: “I think I’m not really a gamer. the target audience for the Wii, the Wii is not for hardcore gamers, it’s for family casuals” (Mathieu, 22 years old). Olivier, 25 years old, goes further: As a gamer, I don’t see myself buying the Wii, it’s a big scam for me. I was the first to say I was going to buy it but there are no games except Mario. I’m doing a game of Wii Sports that’s going to make me laugh for five minutes, and I’m going to make it profitable among friends, but to immerse myself in a world it’s not. In this excerpt, Olivier takes great care to position himself as a gamer.
Gamer search for fun
In this excerpt, Olivier takes great care to position himself as a gamer. Thus, he places himself within the framework of the group, its credibility within it, and the values it carries, and highlights his taste in games which are then presented as representative. This then produces a déﬁniion of what gamer identity is. He doesn’t just want to have “five minutes of fun”, he wants “a universe” – something that would be foreign to the family games on the console. The casual gamer not only plays few (and therefore bad) games but also doesn’t play good games, those that test the skills acquired during a long gaming career, so time is not the only criterion, since you can spend hours playing a word game on social networks and rarely play an online console game. In the same way, some very popular games are rejected outside the boundaries of good taste, like soccer games: “it’s true that nowadays there are some bets that are made: PES or FIFA5, it comes from the football-ball culture, Final Fantasy or Zelda is a pure video game culture” (Marin, 29).
If, historically, the simple fact of playing significant, in fact, to be part of a niche subculture and thus to be able to claim a affiliation, it doesn’t seem possible anymore for Marin. It is then a question of drawing frontiers to situate oneself in a reflexive way. Marin thus observes a apparition between several cultures and is on the side of the one that is “purely” videogame for a firmer its authenticity. It is also noteworthy that this type of discourse, constructing new forms of horizontal legitimizes (within the same culture) and no longer only vertical (between cultural practices with legitimizes diversifies), is above all held, within the corpus studied, by individuals like Marin, Thomas or Édouard, who possess similar characteristics. They all have a high level of education (two engineers and a master’s degree in anthropology) and originally belong to the upper middle classes. If the sample is not representative enough to draw more conclusions, we can however suggest the existence of a link between this social proximity and a hierarchy of videogame practice within a population.
Authenticity as a gamer is thus achieved through the type of game (non-family target and based above all on skills in terms of gameplay and purely videogame handling), through the investment of time and effort, as well as through the support. The same type of argument can be found for games for smartphones. Simple games, designed for the metro and for social networks, which reconfiguration the insertion of the game in the spaces of quotidian life (Ter Minassian, Boutet, 2015), are clearly considered as non-gamer games. However, many people recognize that the game has become more widespread, with the possibility of playing old games on this medium. However, the smartphone, as a symbol of gaming accessible to all, is still very often used as an ani-model. Being a gamer is therefore an identity that is constructed through a reflexive look at the configuration gaming experiences, on a way of approaching the playful device in reference to an ideal that is that of the early days of video games.