When people ask you to picture the typical gamer, what is the first thing you think of? Do you think of an overweight, middle aged man who still lives in his parent’s basement, someone with no social life whose friends only exist online or in fantasy worlds? That has been the stereotype for gamers for ages. That was the stereotype when I was in high school over 15 years ago, and it doesn’t appear to have changed much at all.
However, I feel that this stereotype is, for the most part, completely inaccurate, as most stereotypes are. They may have had a hint of truth in the beginning, but, from my experience, it couldn’t be further from the truth nowadays. Today, there are so many types of games out there available to everyone that it is impossible to believe that the narrow stereotype mentioned above could keep all of them afloat. The wide variety of what is available means that there is definitely something for everyone.
To further breakdown this stereotype, we must look at the audiences and countries where board games are produced and played; this is mainly to argue against the overweight part of the stereotype as that is more related to the United States than the rest of the world. Looking at a list of gaming conventions around the world, the United States definitely has the lion’s share, but Europe and Australia are well represented. If you look into the manufacturers of board games, you will see German companies mentioned often. If you are looking at video games specifically, Asian countries are powerhouses for both development and players. So, as you can see, gamers come from all over the world.
To bring this closer to home, let’s take a look at my gaming groups; yes, I do have more than one. One of my WoW guilds, that I, regrettably do not play as often as I would like with, has players from all over the United States who cover an incredibly wide range of professional disciplines and lifestyles. My other WoW guild, the one I play the most often with, consists, almost entirely, of engineers who work for the same company (it’s how I met them). We are a pretty tight-knit guild because we are all friends and it is incredibly easy to keep in touch with each other.
My board game and tabletop roleplaying groups are fairly small, with more than half of us in both groups, and we play at the same house. The board game group consists of a husband and wife (board game fanatics, we play at their house), another husband and wife, our friend (single guy), and myself (the other single guy). The homeowners’ child, who does sometimes watch us play, is getting close to the age where she can start playing too; she is really looking forward to it. The other husband and wife have two kids who are very young, but will also no doubt want to start playing board games as soon as they are old enough. The ages of this group range from late to early thirties to early forties, and the professions range from college English teacher, to highway patrol, to engineer (three of us are engineers).
My tabletop roleplaying group is currently all men as my friend likes to play board games more than she likes to roleplay. However, we still cover a wide range of professions. We have three engineers, an operations officer for a small tech company, a logistics officer for a local hospital, and a public relations officer for the Navy. Although we definitely act like gamers when we are playing, you would be hard pressed to guess some of us were gamers by just looking at us.
The point I am trying to make is that, when it comes to gamers, you need to leave your stereotypes and misconceptions at home. The gaming community, while definitely dominated by men, is a community that is growing in diversity in both what we play and who plays them. I would be willing to bet that everyone, in the broadest sense, could be considered a gamer. So, when you are dealing with or meeting someone who considers themselves a gamer, remember the wide range and depth of that term. Instead of making a judgment, think about how you might also be considered a gamer and work off of that common ground.
Do you have multiple gaming groups based on what you play? How do your gaming groups differ from the stereotype? Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.
Image origin: South Park