Even though gaming is one of the biggest social phenomena in the last two decades, many of us still do not really understand what a ‘gamer’ is. Whether you are familiar or not with gaming, it seems relevant to question what truly characterizes a gamer. The way gaming is now consumed is way different from how it used to be 20 years ago; therefore the stereotype of what a gamer is needs an update. This short article tries to provide a definition to what a gamer is nowadays, but also how this social profile could evolve in the future.
To begin with, we can assume that most of the people reading this article are gamers. If you enjoy playing games on your smart phone from time to time, you are definitely considered to be gamer. If you just discovered that you are a gamer, welcome to the club! This club already counts more than 1.8 billion people in 2017, and is only expected to welcome more people. When looking at the numbers, it seems irrelevant to draw a profile or to provide one definition to what a gamer is. One definition can never accurately describe 1.8 billion people, therefore a different approach seems necessary.
Gaming nowadays can be enjoyed in many different ways. Whether you play on PC, dedicated gaming consoles or smart phones, you are eligible to be a gamer. This means that gaming reaches a great range of people with very diverse profiles. In 2017, the average gamer is a 35 year old man playing mostly on PC. The stereotype of the geek teen playing alone in their room might have been somehow representative 20 years ago, but the fact is that these teens are now grown up adults and still represent the majority of gamers.
There is a fact that the gaming industry neglects and does not assume yet: gamers are an aging community and the gaming industry is only getting older with them. CNN discussed back in 2011 in an interesting article the issue that gaming fails in truly innovating video games. Virtual reality might be the latest innovation brought to market, it attracts older gamers more than younger generations. The costs involved into these gaming devices are often too high for young audiences; in this regard the gaming industry struggles to find very innovative ways to reach the younger gamers.
While gaming is now accessible to mainstream audiences, the aging trend is representative for the majority of the gamers. A gamer does not realistically fit, if it ever actually did, the image of a teenager stuck behind a screen. Gamers are now grown up adults enjoying the entertainment and sharing this passion with people around them. Maybe this is what will define a gamer in the future: an individual that grew up with this social trend and kept a gaming passion for its lifetime. We can somehow compare the growing gaming trend to any other social trend like punks, hippies, hipsters, emo, geeks,… The gamers could be considered as a subculture on their own within our society.