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Historically, the term "gamer" usually referred to someone who played role-playing games and wargames. Since video games became popular, the term has changed to include players of video games. While the term nominally includes those who do not necessarily consider themselves to be gamers (i.e., casual gamers), it is commonly used to identify those who spend at least some of their leisure time playing or learning about games.
There are many gamer communities around the world. Many of these take the form of discussion forums and other virtual communities, as well as college or university social clubs. Stores specializing in games often serve as a meeting place to organize groups of players (for example GameStop) Prior to the emergence of the Internet, many play-by-mail games developed communities resembling those surrounding today's online games.
In October 2006, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) was established as the first non-profit membership organization formed to represent American computer and video game consumers. The ECA was formed, in part, in response to the seemingly imbalanced representation of the games industry (e.g., the ESA, IGDA and others) in comparison to game consumers in the United States Congress.
Types of gamers
In the United States, the average video game player is 30 and has been playing video games for over 12 years. In the UK as of 2007, the average video game player was over 23 years old, had played video games for over 10 years, and spent around 11 hours a week playing video games. The term "gamer" comprises several subgroups.
A casual gamer is a player whose time or interest in playing games is limited. Casual gamers tend to play games designed for ease of gameplay and don't spend much time playing more involved games. The genres that casual gamers play vary, and they might not own a specific video game console to play their games. Casual gamer demographics vary greatly from those of other video gamers, as the typical casual gamer is older and more predominantly female. One casual gamer subset is the "fitness gamer", who plays motion-based exercise games.
The term casual gamer can be used to distinguish between play styles of level-based character advance in nonlinear games with respect to the amount of dedicated hours of play. MMORPGs may require many hours of grinding to develop a character to maximum level and reach the endgame, and are thus not typically suited for casual gaming. However, games like DOFUS, Eve Online and The Lord of the Rings Online try to balance leveling between any casual gamers and those dedicating more hours to the game.
A core or mid-core gamer is a player with a wider range of interests than a casual gamer and is more likely to enthusiastically play different types of games, but without the amount of time spent and sense of competition of a hardcore gamer. The mid-core gamer enjoys games but may not finish every game they buy, doesn't have time for long MMO quests, and is a target consumer. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that they designed the Wii U to cater to core gamers who are in between the casual and hardcore categories.
A number of theories have been presented regarding the origins of mid-core gamers. James Hursthouse, the founder of Roadhouse Interactive credits the evolution of devices towards tablets and touch-screen interfaces, whereas Jon Radoff of Disruptor Beam compares the emergence of mid-core games to similar increases in media sophistication that have occurred in media such as television.
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Hardcore gamers extend gaming into their lifestyle and may represent the stereotypical “game geek”. They are frequent purchasers of games, prefer to expend significant time on games, and are more likely to try to "master" their games by completing as many objectives as possible. Hardcore gamers may take part in video game culture such as competitions, events and conventions. Competitions may involve organized tournaments, leagues, or ranked play integrated into the game. An example of this is Major League Gaming, an electronic sports organization that often holds events for first-person shooter games such as Quake. There are many subtypes of hardcore gamers based on the style of game, gameplay preference, hardware platform, and other preferences.
Professional gamers play video games and deeply study the game to master it and usually to play in competitions. Professional gamers don't necessarily play for money or earn a salary, but many do. A professional gamer may also be another type of gamer, such as a hardcore gamer, if he or she meets the additional criteria for that gamer type. In countries of Asia, particularly South Korea and Japan, professional gamers are sponsored by large companies and can earn more than $100,000USD a year. In the United States, Major League Gaming has contracted electronic sports gamers with $250,000USD yearly deals.
"Newbie" is a slang term for a novice or newcomer to a certain game, or to gaming in general. Two derived terms are "newb", a beginner who expresses a willingness to learn; and "noob", a derogatory term (an alternate spelling for n00b), though "newb" and "n00b" have become opposites of each other, meaning "newb" is plainly someone who is new to the game (thus having the potential to get better) and "n00b" is a player who both lacks skill and mainly fools around (not wanting to become better).
A retrogamer is a gamer preferring playing and collecting retro games - older video games and arcade games. They may also be called classic gamers or old-school gamers, which are terms that are more prevalent in the United States. The games are played either on the original hardware, on modern hardware via console emulation, or on modern hardware via ports or compilations. Some retrogamers are in the business of refurbishing old games, particularly arcade cabinets. Some even make their own arcade cabinets.
Girl gamer/Gamer girl
A girl gamer/gamer girl is any female who regularly engages in playing video games. According to a study conducted by the Entertainment Software Association in 2009, 40% of the game playing population is female, and women 18 or older now comprise 34% of all gamers. Also, the percentage of women now playing online has risen to 43%, up 4% from 2004. The same study shows that 48% of game purchasers are female.
Usage of the term "girl gamer" is controversial. Some critics have advocated use of the label as a reappropriated term, while others see it as nondescriptive or perpetuating the minority position of female gamers. Some critics of the term believe there is no singular definition of a female gamer and that they are as diverse as any other group.
Girl gamers are often subject to sexual harassment while engaged in online play or tournaments. This harassment often consists of insults based on the gamer being "fat, ugly, or slutty", or threats of abuse, rape, and murder.
Gaymer, or gay gamer, is a term used to refer to the group of people, who identify themselves as LGBT (gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgendered) and have an active interest in video games. This demographic has been the subject of two large surveys, one by Jason Rockwood in 2006, who noted the level of prejudice that gaymers endure, and another by Paul Nowak in 2009, focusing on the content that gaymers expect in videogames.
The gaymers community provides a "safe place" for LGBT gamers apart from the isolation they feel from both the heteronormative gaming community and the gay community. They also believe that as homosexuality in video games increase, there will be an increased normalization of homosexuality in general.
An avatar, username, game name, alias, gamer tag, screen name, or handle is a name (usually a pseudonym) adopted by a video gamer, used as a main preferred identification to the gaming community. Usage of user names is most prevalent in games with online multiplayer support, or at electronic sport conventions.
Similarly, a clan tag is a prefix or suffix added to a name to identify that the gamer is in a clan. Clans are generally a group of gamers who play together as a team against other clans. They are most commonly found in online multi-player games in which one team can face off against another. Clans can also be formed to create loosely based affiliations perhaps by all being fans of the same game or merely gamers who have close personal ties to each other. A team tag is a prefix or suffix added to a name to identify that the gamer is in a team. Teams are generally sub-divisions within the same clan and are regarded within gaming circuits as being a purely competitive affiliation. These gamers are usually in an online league such as the Cyberathlete Amateur League (C.A.L.) and their parent company the Cyberathlete Professional League (C.P.L.) where all grouped players were labeled as teams and not clans.
- Entertainment Consumers Association
- Gamers Outreach Foundation
- Going Cardboard (Documentary)
- List of gaming topics
- Player (game)
- Video game addiction
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