Noun / Verb Identity

This is something that has been on my mind lately.

Ever since the stray thought popped into my head:


I raid, but I am not a raider.

Or at least, I don’t really consider myself part of that illustrious group.

Sometimes, I feel like an outside observer looking in, an immersion or gonzo journalist perhaps, or an anthropologist engaged in cultural immersion.

Sometimes, it’s the same sensation as an expatriate warmly welcomed by their host country and openminded enough to immerse. You go deep enough to be part of said country, a part of you will forever remember the good memories in that country and will probably miss it dearly if/when you leave, you might even be changed enough that reverse culture shock might be an issue…

…but no matter how long you stay, there is always a tiny niggling feeling that you’re an outsider, that you don’t quite -belong-.

This is not specific to raids, by the by. It just so happens it’s the thing I’ve been doing most lately, and the thought just hit me that way.

I WvW (from time to time), but I am not a WvWer either. (Or I don’t consider myself one.)

I PvP now and then too, but I would really hesitate before describing myself as a PvPer.


This is me, just a couple weeks ago, discovering that they’ve put in a match history at some point in the past, and admiring that my last played game was on the last day of 2015.


There have been some 8-10 more matches added since, sating the sudden desire to try out a warrior in PvP and attempting to cross over to the next tier out of Amber, but I dunno, I’ve got like 6 pips and there’s 9 pips to go and I don’t know if I’ll ever find the time or urge before October ends.

I play fractals and dungeons, as and when the whim takes me, but I am by no means a fractaler, or a dungeoneer.

I can roleplay, but I definitely don’t do it as a matter of course, and cannot be said to be a roleplayer either.

You could argue that some of this is semantics. If you do something (verb), by definition, you are a (noun form of that verb.)

But it seems to me that there is a small unspoken psychological or conceptual gap in there that is about identity.

(There is some research that seems to support this perception. Are you a “voter” or merely “voting” in this election? Are you a “chocolate-eater” or merely “eat chocolate a lot?”)

Then I start thinking about why I am willing to accept some things as part of myself and my self-identity, and why I’m not willing to accept other things.

I am quite happy to say that I am a GW2 player, for example. I think that obsession is kinda undeniable.

Call me a generalist, an explorer, a soloist, I’ll probably nod and agree, even if I don’t embody those things 100% of the time.

Things like AP hunter, or node miner, or collector, might get 50-75% agreement.

It’s not really primarily frequency – I raid twice a week, if not more when asked to.

Preference maybe plays a bit of a part, but not entirely? I’m not sure.

Some of it has to do with perceived community belonging, but not all.

(ie. Many people rejected the notion of being a “gamer” after Gamergate somewhat tainted the label. Me, I find I play and collect too many games to be anything but. So that label in my mind is still valid, even if I may not identify with the entire gamer community or a subset of the gamer community who feel like they speak for the entire.)

It’s a mildly interesting exercise in other aspects of one’s life too.

Am I a blogger? Yeah, I think I would claim that as part of my identity, even if my frequency sucks lately.

Am I a writer? Possibly.

Am I a Pokemon Go player? A Path of Exile player? (Pst, PoE had yet another crazy update lately. I -so- want to play but have no clue where I can find the time.) An Evolve player? A Minecraft player?

[Maybe. Want to be but probably am not. Not really. On occasion. In that order.]

No easy answers.

Just more “Who am I?” questions.


6 thoughts on “Noun / Verb Identity

  1. Very interesting discussion (that your having with yourself!). As I’ve commented a few times here and there, despite having played video games pretty consistently since about 1980 I do not generally consider myself to be a “gamer”. I don’t doubt for a moment, though, that if I described how i spend my time many (maybe most) people would disagree with my own assessment.

    These nouns are statements of ownership, aren’t they? By claiming the title “raider” you’re putting your hand on the concept and saying it belongs to you. And by implication you’re including yourself in whatever social network pertains to that activity. It’s a choice, in that clearly anyone can play golf but not everyone who plays golf is a golfer, but it can also be a form of denial. Someone who plays golf every week of every month of every year to the point that his family barely recognize him is probably de facto a golfer whether he likes to admit it or not.

    So, I’m probably a gamer and you may well be a raider. I’m not sure it’s we who get to decide. I do get to choose how I represent myself, though, no matter how inaccurate or misleading that may be. We all have multiple, overlapping, often contradictory identities after all. At least we can name ourselves after those we prefer to highlight or acknowledge.


  2. I feel that, contrary to the use of the word “gamer”, “PvPer” and “raider” are generally used by players who identify with a single type of MMO content. So while I do consider myself a gamer in a sense (and I think you’ve read the blog post I wrote about that a while ago), I don’t refer to myself as a PvPer or raider – even though I do both all the time.


  3. I can just agree with the commenters here: those cathegories mean nothing for me. I still am a little amused about Bhagpuss not seeing himself as gamer, considering how much he (just like me) seems to play and enjoy computer games.

    Outside of that, those tags have little meaning to me. In terms of GW2, I guess my tag would be “casual” compared to the more regular player. After all i play since launch but still only have one ascended weapon and no ascended armour, which means i lag far behind other players. At the same time having logged almost 700 hours since launch takes me far above and beyond “casual” in my eyes, so if i need to put a label on it, what would be the correct label for “plays for fun, accepts progress but does not forcefully pursue it”?

    I might be more success oriented in another MMO, but even there reject any of those specialized labels. I sometimes am in a raid, but i do many other things, too. Those labels feel like limitations to me, and i see no reason at all to limit my scope of what i do in my games. I play for fun, i do whatever activity just is fun. So i guess it’s back to the general “gamer”. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, to me, there’s a distinction between ‘labels’ – with the implication that it’s something other people stick onto us, something external to us and descriptive enough to fit us into a box… (with the complication that sometimes we buy into these labels and claim them for our own, or intentionally put on masks)…

      … and just the overall concepts of one’s identity and the descriptor words we use to describe said sense of one’s identity, with which we might use either a verb or noun form.

      “I watch Netflix avidly,” vs “I am an avid Netflix-watcher.”

      The former, to me, seems to imply more of a temporary choice of activity; while the latter claims it with more seeming permanence as something one -is-.

      If I said, “She is an avid Netflix-watcher,” then it seems we start to stray somewhat into label territory, because it’s me imposing my external judgement of what avid Netflix-watching is onto her.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As much as we are dependent on words to convey meaning, they are at the same time entirely too feeble. Take the question, “Are you happy?” Perhaps you hadn’t thought about whether you were happy or not until someone asked. “No, I’m not happy.” The implication is then that you are *un*happy, even though your response may simply indicate that “happy” does not adequately describe what you feel when you explore game worlds, write a blog post, or play Pokemon Go.

    “What do I want to be known for?” is one question we might ask ourselves as one way of exploring whether or not we are an -er of things. Am I a writer? Yes, an unpublished amateur, but it’s something I’d like to be known for some day. A gamer? No, I just play games, thank you. A tank? I’m not an actual armored vehicle but it is my preferred explicit support role, so perhaps 75% on that one.

    When these words begin to take on overarching meanings that render the human they point to as a secondary concern, they become problematic. Their best use is as a convenient form of shorthand with which the subject agrees.


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