Thursday, March 27, 2008

The New Gamer Stereotypes

This post was sitting has been sitting in draft for too long, so I'm kicking part of it out there. Consider this Part 1 of my first multi-part series ever..

Jason of Unfettered Blather has a nice little post about Gamer Stereotypes. He outlines the darkest and scariest of the two, the ones feared by the public in general, and then debunks any reality in them. Of course we all cerebrally agree that stereotypes are not the norm, there are too many people playing video games for all of them to fit some shallow descriptor of adolescent, man-child, internet trolls. But that's not my point. What he got me thinking about was all of the NEW gamer stereotypes that are starting to show up, online and in the media. Some of them are real, you may know a few, but perhaps they are not as wide-spread as the media would like you to believe.

The Gamer Girl
Yes, I know, the traditional stereotype says that girls don't play games. Any evidence to the contrary must then be fictitious, and the gamer in question imaginary. Except that with a significant number of women now playing games, both casual and hardcore, a new stereotype is arriving on the scene. You say Gamer Girl and a picture of a wiry female with punk sensibilities, freaky hair, pierced something, and a controller in her hands appears before your eyes. These are the scary women of gaming. The ones who can kick you ass at any game you'd care to challenge them to. They are tough -- battle hardened by hours of playing against the unwashed masses in their MMORPG or FPS of choice -- and ready to show you what they're made of. Oddly sexy to the inner geek in all of us, in a Suicide Girl sort of way. This stereotype has been best popularized by the UbiSoft all-girl gaming crew, Frag Dolls. Perhaps it is the extension of adolescent desires to meet our equals, our soul mates, upon the digital battlefield.

Your Mom
Now that casual games are not just an idle pass time for the workplace, but a viable market with millions in sales, the idea of a casual gamer has had to expand rapidly. All those players must have come from somewhere, and it can't all be office drones wasting their daytime hours away when they should be working. Where else to look? Who else has that much free time between the hours of 8 and 5? How about stay at home moms, housewives, retirees, and everyone else previously relegated to the sedentary home life. Previously these people may have been spotted cooking, cleaning, watching Daytime TV -- aprons around necks, babies on hips, TV remotes in hand. Now the meal is in the microwave, the vacuum is a Swiffer (hardwood floors are back, people), the baby is in the play pen, and the Soap is being Tivo'd. Where's mom? At the computer, happily plugged into her favourite gaming portal. Bejeweled, Peggle, Scrabulous, these are her new hobbies. It's not just younger women either, its everyone. It's your mom, too!

Let's take back the Game Stereotypes from the fear-mongering media. Let's make them interesting and positive. What Gamer Stereotype are you? What kind of New Gamer Stereotype do we need to have? Put it down in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a gamer girl. I'm not as scary, and not as hardcore (I likes me some casual games, too), but I'm also a gamer mom, so I think that's where the casual games come in. With all the busyness of being a parent and working full time, I think casual games are very necessary in this industry. At the same time, these new stereotypes aren't too bad. It means more people are turning to the world of gaming which can only spawn more inspiration, no?