Hi, I’m Michele… and I’m a gamer. Chances are you play games too but don’t identify yourself with the term “gamer”. The Internet changed the way we game over the last 30 years in a GOOD way, but with that also came anonymity and detachment. So, the term has been hijacked by a small group of individuals, creating a stigma and therefore displacing a large number of would-be “gamers” from an enormously creative and productive community.
The last three decades have defined, redefined, expropriated and finally settled on subdividing the terminology of the “gamer”. I’m here to help you figure out: What Kind of Gamer Are You?
So first, let’s talk some history about what being a “gamer” means.
Games! They started in childhood. Almost all of us experienced outdoor games like ‘Hide and Seek’. As kids, we’re hardwired to play. Games teach us to build trust, allow us a sense of accomplishment, awaken us with a rush of emotions and give us a set of rules that we agree to accept… or occasionally break.
Breaking rules wasn’t usually on purpose. Unknowingly, kids can be accidentally creative. I didn’t know that Barbie and He-Man weren’t star-crossed lovers. My Barbie just wanted more excitement and adventure than Ken could offer her. And thankfully, I didn’t have anyone telling me this was “wrong”. To this day, the blissful couple are still happily married and live in my parent’s basement.
As we got older, we played board games and many of those board games involved dice. Dice are the oldest gaming equipment that our current civilization is aware of. According to Dice-Play:
“In ancient times, the throw of a dice was not just considered to be luck, the outcome was believed to be controlled by the gods… The Roman goddess, Fortuna, daughter of Zeus (known to gamblers as Lady Luck), was believed to determine the outcome of a throw.”
Although I was enjoying outdoor games with friends, creating storylines with my toys and throwing dice in board games, I was fascinated by video games. I distinctly remember saving quarters to play the Ms. Pac-Man arcade at our local Pizza Hut, subconsciously watching the first female video game protagonist dominate the screen.
To put things in a gaming perspective, Ms. Pac-Man just turned 30. So in three decades, how has the gamer of the 1980s changed into the gamer of 2012?
Firstly, the Nintendo Entertainment System resurged the gaming console. On my 10th birthday I became the first kid on the block to have one. It came packaged with what has arguably become the most prolific video game of all time, Super Mario Bros. I spent hours of my childhood in this whimsical Mushroom Kingdom, trying desperately to save Princess Toadstool – the ultimate 8-bit damsel in distress. As a 10-year-old girl, it was challenging, magical and empowering to quest and conquer via my controllable super-hero plumber, Mario. I loved my NES. Like I had learned in childhood, the video games each had separate rules and if you made a mistake you could always try again. I was obsessed with The Legend of Zelda. And I attribute all my organizational skills to Tetris. I would bet that many of you out there have fond memories of these games yourselves.
Thanks to Nintendo, here’s what happened: people started building competitive gaming consoles. Computers were also exploding onto the scene. As if a game within a game, all these companies were rapidly competing for the consumer. At its core, this is creation at its best. Technology began to evolve faster and faster. You don’t have to be any type of gamer to appreciate the effort and team work it has taken to create these games (featured 2010/2011 titles below: Skyrim, SWTOR, Rift, World of Warcraft Cataclysm)
However, the more “epic” the game, the more demanding the game became for the player. It wasn’t just “save the princess” or “avoid ghosts/eat pellets” anymore. It became crazy controllers, tons of buttons, graphic cards, macros, gamertags, avatars, super violence and misogyny (I’m lookin’ at you, Grand Theft Auto). Although video game sales have soared in the last decade, the audiences of these titles have become too narrowed and specialized.
However, with the recent advent of Nintendo’s Wii and the accessibility of mobile games like Angry Birds, casual and nostalgic gamers have been brought back into the fold. We’re finally re-examining what it means to be a “gamer”.
According to an October 2011 survey, for the first time in history, more women are playing online games than men. The survey also shows that we’re happier and more social due to it. And if you fall into this demographic, you’re apparently having more sex!
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) did a 2011 survey too, concluding, ”42% of all players (not just online) are women, with women over 18 years of age being the industry’s fastest growing demographic.”
And for you moms out there, a study by NPD group in 2011 shows 91% of kids aged 2-17 play games. 91%!!
According to Jesper Juul, author of “A Casual Revolution”:
“This is the moment in which the simplicity of early video games is being rediscovered, while new ﬂexible designs are letting video games ﬁt into the lives of players. Video games are being reinvented, and so is our image of those who play the games.”
While Jesper Juul writes mostly about Nintendo Wii and mobile game titles, Jane McGonigal writes about online games. Although many online games may demand more from a player, a very casual and social experience can take place. Online titles such as World of Warcraft are specifically designed to invite all levels of players into their community. I personally began playing Warcraft as a casual player, but over time developed strong friendships and therefore a “team”. We’ve accomplished seemingly impossible tasks together. I never thought I’d be this kind of gamer, but it’s incredibly rewarding. In her TED speech, Ms. McGonigal talks about this emotion:
“[People feel] good as in motivated to do something that matters, inspired to collaborate and to cooperate. And when we’re in game worlds, many of us become the best version of ourselves, the most likely to help at a moment’s notice, the most likely to stick with a problem as long as it takes, to get up after failure and try again.”
So…. what kind of gamer are you? Check out the list below, leave some comments and next week I’ll discuss some games you may be into according to your type. I promise you, there’s a game for everyone. And I’ll help you find it.
1) Newbie Gamer
Newbie, or “noob”, is a slang term for a novice or a newcomer to a certain game, or to gaming in general. If you’ve never played video games before in your life, let me know.
2) Casual Gamer
A Casual Gamer is a player whose time, interest or knowledge of playing games is limited. Casual Gamers tend to play games designed for ease of gameplay or for “killing time”. They don’t usually play 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 Gamers tend to like mobile based games. However, more complex games could interest them for a social or family aspect (like World of Warcraft), but at the lowest level of effort of gameplay possible.
3) Mom Gamer
A Mom Gamer is interested in finding educational games for her children. Mom Gamers typically like mobile devices to keep kids occupied on-the-go, but are also interested in console or computer games. Usually very keen on details, Mom Gamers will want to know as much about a game as she can prior to purchasing it.
4) Mid-Core Gamer
A Mid-Core Gamer is a player with a wide range of interests and enthusiastic toward creative and diverse games, but without the amount of time spent and sense of competition as a Hardcore Gamer. The Mid-Core Gamer enjoys complex games but won’t buy every novel release. A Mid-Core Gamer may show an interest in video game culture, comic books, fantasy or science fiction, and they may even have a past or mild curiosity in tabletop, dice or card games.
5) Retro Gamer
A Retro Gamer is a gamer preferring to play and collect old school games and arcades. Some Retro Gamers are in the business of refurbishing old games. Some even make their own arcade cabinets.
6) Hardcore Gamer
If you’re a Hardcore Gamer, you already know who you are and I won’t need to offer any game titles or advice to you. But for those who are curious, Hardcores take gaming very seriously and have a strong desire to complete the game. Some of these people have been known to build their own computers and take part in tournaments. Also worth noting, they’re often very opinionated on forums and blogs. But don’t let their bark scare you, they’re actually a very generous and caring group of people. Just think about all the time and effort they put into a game – if tasked, they will give back effort to people too.
7) Pro Gamer
Pro Gamers play video games for money. They even have a professional sports league: Major League Gaming. In Asia, particularly South Korea and Japan, professional gamers are sponsored by large companies and can earn more over $100,000/year. In the United States, Major League Gaming has contracted Electronic Sports Gamers with $250,000USD yearly deals. A really great female example of Pro Gamers would be The Frag Dolls.