Level UpWhat Kind of Gamer Are You: Part 1Michele Morrow

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.”

Lady Luck?!  Well, at least a Goddess was determining my fate when I rolled through the Sweet Valley High board game with my sister while listening to Milli Vanilli.

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 surveyfor 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.


Featured images via:  Wikipedia, Dangerine.tumblr, WallPaperDesktops and Blizzard Entertainment

Additional images via:  Flickr, NationalSportsReview, BusinessInsider, ForTheLoveOfGeek, EveryView, Wired.com, SkyrimPortal, Softpedia, IGN.com, InternetGames

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560415491 Becky Gilbert

    I got the first Zelda for Christmas one year when I was a wee lass, and it was and is, hands-down, the BEST Christmas present I ever got. (because I never got a pony or a dragon) I’d call myself a mid-core gamer, my BFF and I play the Sims 3 together and I’ve started back up with WoW. I don’t play first person shooters. Can’t figure out the maps and then, BAM! Shot in the back of the head. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      I never got a pony or a dragon either!! We’re so deprived

  • http://www.facebook.com/lizagillis Liz Gillis

    I would say I’m somewhere between mid and hardcore. Currently I am playing SWTOR, Assassin’s Creed Rev and have like 100 hours in Skyrim. I started playing on an NES as well, though my MMO addiction was started thanks to my hubby introducing me to WoW about 6 years ago (though I did quit, it ate all my free time!).

  • http://www.facebook.com/DiruDomo Emma Tukdarian

    Hardcore right here.
    Tabbed out of WoW to read this. Now going to go play Assassins Creed Rev.
    It’s a big relief to read that girls are stepping it up!
    And I will happily agree with the data stating happier relationships.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      Hell ya! I always tell my girlfriends that are having relationship issues – play a game together or find a game to play by yourself. It’s not only an incredible stress reliever, brain teaser and escape — it’s can also be a great way to test a relationship to see how you “play” together. It’s all about getting along, even if you’re competing it should be fun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nokomis1022 Ashley Nielson

    Definitely a mid-core gamer. I’m no good at FPS, so I lean more towards RPG. I would game all day if I could, but I don’t have time. :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/kinderwaffle Ming-Ming Ly

    Definitely hardcore. I could go on and on and on and on and on about Skyrim right now. Sucking my life up!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636186651 Clare Bamford

    I’m definitely a mid-core gamer. However, as a twist my favourite games are still original video games (primarily Nintendo), or new versions of those old video games like Legend of Zelda, Super Mario World, Kirby etc. I love these games, and would totally play them on more than a regular basis if I weren’t fully aware that life was passing me by. I also have a Yoshi tattoo on my left leg because when i was a kid I would start crying if he ever died and then immediately quit playing, cause’ whats Super Mario World without Yoshi, I mean really? Oh video games how you make me smile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=641497230 Tracy Northcutt

    I really like the game, Joust. I am an Retro Gamer and have massive skills in The Legend of Zelda. I can’t wait for Part 2 to come out. Very entertaining read! I love that you are representing gaming for all the ladies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eradler Erin Radler

    Definitely just took a break from SWtOR to read this article ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=780064602 Vandebergh Jimmy

    Hi Michele i can honestly say i’m a diehardgamer, meaning i play almost every release wich interests me even the slightest bit. Although i still take time for work, friends and GF if i had one :) Besides that i think i’m pretty normal, games (toegther with books, comics, movies) are my MAIN interest and occupation of time. For financial reasons i do buy most games at budget prices though, as i can’t afford to pay 60 euro for every new game i would like to play…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312377800 Michael Weitzman

    Really fun article on the culture of gaming! I always had more fun playing games in co-op mode like Rush & Attack, or Gauntlet. That’s something that WoW does so well – it just *feels* like you’re playing the game together with your friends.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      …. or your girlfriend. Who’s that hot babe in the photo with you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrlanier Meaghan Lanier

    I’m somewhere between casual and mid-core. I’ve beaten Guitar Hero 2 on Expert, but I haven’t laid my hands on a game in months. So I don’t play video games very often, but when I do, I get kind of obsessed for a little while. And then I forget about them again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      That’s totally normal Meaghan, you have to balance real life with in-game life. But beating Guitar Hero 2 on expert? Nice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1092931878 Francesca Papageorgiou

    I’d deffinitelly count myself in the mid core tending to hardcore gaming dynamic! Most of my free time is dedicated to world of Warcraft and league of legends but I also enjoy first person shooter games mostly in multi player. In times I find myself to grasped to wow (meaning I stay in to play) enough to make my parents worried about my addiction. I am always interested when new games come out although I wait for them to settle a bit so I can ready better reviews, hear what my friends have to say etc. so I wouldn’t say I’m that hardcore. But when it comes to wow… My gosh…. I’ve read every book have my chars name tattooed and generally I need in at everything that happens. I’m an achievement seeker rather than a gear seeker. Very nice and enlightening article. Keep up the good work and never forget Michelle as Lady Sylvanas!!! You have my vote ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001844904466 Phillip Darnall

    to post a comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001844904466 Phillip Darnall

    That was awsome Michele. And very true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.hetrick Jonathan Hetrick

    First I love the article Michelle, thank you. I’m a mid-core gamer. Been playing Wow for 5 years and my mains a Hunter!!! I started playing D&D in 1981 and have played or at least tried every major MMORPG. I was also the first kid with a nintendo and also had a Tandy trash 80 computer. My house was the neighbor hang out. I can remember me and my friends playing D&D for like 48 straight hours. Those were the days were you had to have an imagination and a set of dice. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      FELLOW HUNTER!! I hope you read http://www.warcrafthuntersunion.com and listen to the Hunting Party Podcast when you get time (free downloads from iTunes). What spec do you enjoy playing most?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyledrexel Kyle Drexel

    Great article Michelle! I think the central point is that “gaming” is an enormously broad concept, and everyone can find a game they will enjoy. Gaming used to be seen as something for antisocial boys that couldn’t make it in the more socially accepted games called “sports.” Fortunately, in the last decade, this perception is shifting. Robust internet technology & online platforms (e.g. Xbox Live) have made games increasingly social; MMOs have become mainstream; console makers have courted non-traditional gamers (Wii, Kinect), and the proliferation of smartphones have created a whole new, connected platform for casual gaming (Angry Birds, Words With Friends). These trends have made gaming far more accessible, and caused a lot of folks to realize that gaming isn’t just one thing for one kind of person. I can’t wait to see where this leads…

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      Well… it certainly started in Camelot, didn’t it? (or at least nearby) ;)
      I love your perfectly worded and beautiful response.
      “These trends have made gaming far more accessible, and caused a lot of folks to realize that gaming isn’t just one thing for one kind of person. I can’t wait to see where this leads…”
      Couldn’t agree more. <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000041396047 Tara Tate

    SKYRIM FTW! I work at GameStop, so this article is really refreshing and motivating to me! Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      That’s awesome!! I love Gamestop <3 Make sure to tell your co-workers about the article :D And yea… Skyrim is so beautiful. I've heard playing on PC is way better than console (I have XBox 360 version) – have you heard that from customers at all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathaniajohnson Nathania Johnson

    I’m a casual gamer who is becoming a mid-core gamer. I recently started playing Batman: Arkham City and Portal.

    I would add another new category of gamer to the list – mobile gamer. People who love to play Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Tiny Tower, Jetpack Joyride, etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelemorrow Michele Morrow

      I’m also loving Portal 2 right now! It’s so much fun. Great puzzle game and so very quirky. I decided to let “mobile gamers” fall into the “Casual Gamer” category for the time being – I wanted to stay broad enough so people can see what else they may find — see what else fits their lifestyle outside of mobile games. Let’s see if we can warm them up to Portal 2 at some point – amirite?? Thanks so much for your comment!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisrmiller Elisabeth Miller

    My BFF is a hardcore gamer and she introduced me to some games I never thought I’d like. I suck at most of them, but ‘, actually good at Rock Band. I also really enjoy a lot of the Wii games that require moving (like Just Dance).

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