Going forward, I think it would be useful here to distinguish both the sincere & earnest engagement & exchange of ideas from the mere consumption of media & stimulation through entertainment, and the parts of our identity we'd truly consider core from the elements we'd dismiss if push ever came to shove.
But if I may indulge a tangent for a moment, I find it interesting that we as a society at least seem to be moving towards this disposition that what religious belief one possesses is a purely genetic inclination, where his or her preference in media and pop culture is certainly only the product of an abstract, isolated individual's preference. So far as I could be religious, it would be because I must have 'inherited' it from my parents, but my appreciation for Lady Gaga and Air Force Gator would be exclusively because I am an abstract, idealized individual, free from outside influence or bias, having preferences almost platonic in their purity. Setting aside the sarcasm, with apologies if I offended there with, I mean only to here suggest that it is not a little disingenuous to dismiss religion and politics as something so predetermined and immutable for us as to render them factors over which we have no control while at the same time heralding pop culture as our one true expression of radical freedom. Indeed, let me remind you we are discussing a medium and its associated industry which drops millions and millions of dollars on advertising as readily as one does the metaphorical hat, and every one of those dollars directed towards effecting an interest in individuals like ourselves. Why do you think the #jointheconversation buzzword is so prominent? These industries have made billion dollar businesses of manufacturing this passion and resonance and the community which that passion creates and the identity which that resonance instills.
Now understand that I do not mean to delegitimize the sincerity of our appreciation for media. But don't for a moment suppose it is meaningfully less genetically fallible than the tacky old immutable identities you may or may not be inclined to dismiss. In the end, I am still left convinced there are things more worthy than others of being elevated to the core of our identity. I seem to have given the impression that resonant ideas and moving mediums of expression are not worthy of being considered significant. I apologize for my failure in communication. Let me clarify my thoughts on identity.
There are some elements of our experience which I would argue are so central that to remove them would compromise our very conception of ourselves. That is to say, X is so important to me that I would have a enormously hard time recognizing myself as the same person without X. It is very easy to see how race could fit this sort of quality, since altering one's race would so transmogrify their life experience thitherto—in America, at least. You might dispute how well nationality fits this bill, but I would caution against mistaking any identity as insubstantial sheerly for being difficult to articulate. I was reading George Orwell's essay England Your England recently. He's writing in the middle of the blitz, perhaps at a time where England has never been more struck by nationalistic fervor, and still he struggles enormously to articulate this general sense of Englishness:
Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning – all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?
But talk to foreigners, read foreign books or newspapers, and you are brought back to the same thought. Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.
Anyhow, I suppose what I mean is to question just what it looks like for a hobby or medium to legitimately overtake someone's identity to the degree a lot of these historic institutions have in the past. I will not call Socrates irrational for being so devoted to a resonant idea, nor will I ridicule Renoir for finding a medium of expression so compelling. But I do not think we have yet seen what the gamer equivalent of these sorts would be; the kind of person so transfixed by the medium that he could not have existed at any point prior in all of history, or at the very least it would have been a tragedy had he been so prematurely born. At the very least, the demographic of hostile and abusive 'gamers' of which we see these many writers decrying and dismissing as toxic do not constitute any such example. They have not found what there is to find sacred in video games, and instead they have sanctified their mundane and vulgar qualities.
P.S. Apologies in advance for issues in spelling, grammar, and word choice. It's midnight here, and I have 5% battery left.