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A gamer is someone who plays interactive games, usually video games, although games can also come in other forms, such as tabletop or physical games (in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the term "gaming" can also refer to legalized gambling, which can take both traditional—i.e. tabletop—and digital forms—akin to video games). There are many gamer communities around the world. Many of these take the form of Internet forums and other virtual communities, as well as in-person social clubs.
In the United States, the average video game player is 30 years old 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. According to Pew Research Center, 49% percent of adults have played a video game at some point in their life. Those who play video games regularly are split roughly equal between male and female, but men are more likely to call themselves a 'Gamer.'
Female gamer/gamer girl
A female 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 playing online had 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.
Gaymer, or gay gamer, is a term used to refer to the group of people who identify themselves as LGBT (gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender) and have an active interest in video games. This demographic has been the subject of two large surveys, one in 2006, who noted the level of prejudice that gaymers endure, and another 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.
It is common for games media, games industry analysts, and academics to divide gamers into broad behavioral categories. These categories are sometimes separated by level of dedication to gaming, sometimes by primary type of game played, and sometimes by a combination of those and other factors. There is no general consensus on the definitions or names of these categories, though many attempts have been made to formalize them. An overview of these attempts and their common elements follows.
- Newbie: "Newbie", (commonly shortened to "noob", "n00b", or "newb") is a slang term for a novice or newcomer to a certain game, or to gaming in general.
- Casual gamer: The term "casual gamer" is often used for gamers who primarily play casual games, but can also refer to gamers who play less frequently than other gamers. Casual gamers may play games designed for ease of gameplay, or play more involved games in short sessions, or at a slower pace than hardcore gamers. The types of game that casual gamers play vary, and they are less likely to own a dedicated video game console. Notable examples of casual games include The Sims and Nintendogs. Casual gamer demographics vary greatly from those of other video gamers, as the typical casual gamer is older and more predominantly female. "Fitness gamer"s, who play motion-based exercise games, are also seen as casual gamers.
- Core gamer: 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 rise in popularity of mid-core games. 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.
- Hardcore gamer: Ernest Adams and Scott Kim have proposed classification metrics to distinguish "hardcore gamers" from casual gamers, emphasizing action, competition, complexity, gaming communities, and staying abreast of developments in hardware and software. Others have attempted to draw the distinction based primarily on which platforms a gamer prefers, or to decry the entire concept of delineating casual from hardcore as divisive and vague.
Professional gamers generally play video games for prize money or salaries. Such individuals usually deeply study the game to master it and usually to play in competitions. A pro 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 China, professional gamers and teams are sponsored by large companies and can earn more than US$100,000 a year. In 2006 Major League Gaming contracted several Halo 2 players including Tom "Tsquared" Taylor and members of Team Final Boss with $250,000 USD yearly deals.
A retrogamer is a gamer who prefers to play, and oftenly enough collect, 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 on the original hardware, on modern hardware via emulation, or on modern hardware via ports or compilations (though those 'in the hobby' tend toward original hardware and emulation).
Classification in taxonomies
The Bartle taxonomy of player types classifies gamers according to their preferred activities within the game:
- Achievers, who like to gain points and overall succeed within the game parameters, collecting all rewards and game badges.
- Explorers, who like to discover all areas within the game, including hidden areas and glitches, and expose all game mechanics.
- Socializers, who prefer to play games for the social aspect, rather than the actual game itself.
- Killers, who thrive on competition with other players.
The MDA framework describes various aspects of the game regarding the basic rules and actions (Mechanics), how they build up during game to develop the gameplay (Dynamics), and what emotional response they convey to the player (Aesthetics). The described aesthetics are further classified as Sensation, Fantasy, Narrative, Challenge, Fellowship, Discovery, Expression and Submission. Jesse Schell extends this classification with Anticipation, Schadenfreude, Gift giving, Humour, Possibility, Pride, Purification, Surprise, Thrill, Perseverance and Wonder, and proposes a number of generalizations of differences between how males and females play.
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.
Clans and guilds
A clan or guild is a group of players that form, usually under an informal 'leader' or administrator. Clans are often formed by gamers with similar interests; many clans or guilds form to connect an 'offline' community that might otherwise be isolated due to geographic, cultural or physical barriers. Some clans are composed of professional gamers, who enter competitive tournaments for cash or other prizes; most, however, are simply groups of like-minded players that band together for a mutual purpose (for example, a gaming-related interest or social group).
The identity of being a gamer is partly self-determination and partly performativity of characteristics society expects a gamer to embody. These expectations include not only a high level of dedication to playing games, but also preferences for certain types of games, as well as an interest in game-related paraphernalia like clothing and comic books. According to Graeme Kirkpatrick, the "true gamer" is concerned first and foremost with gameplay. Escapist founder Alexander Macris says a gamer is an enthusiast with greater dedication to games than just playing them, similar in connotation to "cinemaphile". People who play may not identify as gamers because they feel they don't play "enough" to qualify. Social stigma against games has influenced some women and minorities to distance themselves from the term "gamer", even though they may play regularly.
The Gamergate controversy concerns issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged from the hashtag. Beginning in August 2014, Gamergate targeted several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, as well as feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. After a former boyfriend of Quinn wrote a lengthy disparaging blog post about her, other people falsely accused her of entering a relationship with a journalist in exchange for positive coverage and threatened her with assault and murder. Those endorsing the blog post and spreading such accusations against Quinn organized themselves under the Twitter hashtag #Gamergate, as well as on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels and websites such as Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan. Harassment campaigns against Quinn and others were coordinated through these forums and included doxing, threats of rape, and death threats. Many of those organizing under the Gamergate hashtag argue that they are campaigning against political correctness and poor journalistic ethics in the video game industry, while numerous commentators have dismissed Gamergate's purported concerns with ethics and condemned its misogynistic behavior.
Games are stereotypically associated with young males, but the diversity of the audience has been increasing over time. This stereotype exists even among a majority of women who play video games regularly. Among players using the same category of device (e.g., console or phone), patterns of play are largely the same between men and women. Diversity is driven in part by new hardware platforms. Expansion of the audience was catalyzed by Nintendo's efforts to reach new demographics. Market penetration of smartphones with gaming capabilities further expanded the audience, since in contrast to consoles or high-end PCs, mobile phone gaming requires only devices that non-gamers are likely to already own.
While 48% of women in the United States report having played a video game, only 6% identify as gamers, compared to 15% of men who identify as gamers. This rises to 9% among women aged 18–29, compared to 33% of men in that age group. Half of female PC gamers in the U.S. consider themselves to be core or hardcore gamers. Connotations of "gamer" with sexism on the fringe of gaming culture has caused women to be less willing to adopt the label.
Racial minorities responding to Pew Research were more likely to describe themselves as gamers, with 19% of hispanics identifying as gamers, compared to 11% of African-Americans and 7% of whites. The competitive fighting game scene is noted as particularly racially diverse and tolerant. This is attributed to its origin in arcades, where competitors met face to face and the barrier to entry was merely a quarter. Only 4% of those aged 50 and over identified as gamers.
Casualization is a trend in video games towards simpler games appealing to larger audiences, especially women or the elderly. Some developers, hoping to attract a broader audience, simplify or remove aspects of gameplay in established genres and franchises. Compared to seminal titles like DOOM, more recent mass-market action games like the Call of Duty series approach the status of interactive movies, being less sensitive to player choice or skill. The press rarely calls attention to depth or features found in retro games but missing from new releases.
The trend towards casual games is decried by some self-identified gamers who emphasize gameplay, meaning the activities that one undertakes in a game. According to Brendan Keogh, these are inherently masculine activities such as fighting and exerting dominance. He further says that games women prefer are more passive experiences, and male gamers deride the lack of interactivity in these games because of this association with femininity.
Belying these trends, games including The Sims or Minecraft have some of the largest audiences in the industry while also being very complex. According to Joost van Dreunen of SuperData Research, girls who play Minecraft are "just as 'hardcore' as the next guy over who plays Counter-Strike" Dreunen says being in control of a game's environment appeals equally to boys and girls. Leigh Alexander argued that appealing to women does not necessarily entail reduced difficulty or complexity.
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