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1 in 3 a gamer

gamer

On the MCV website today, the UK trade body, UKIE, speculates that 1 in 3 of UK population is now a ‘gamer.’*

I’m sure they are attempting to challenge and dispel the stereotype of the teenage boy hunched over a console in his bedroom. It’s the games industry’s attempt to mainstream and normalise gaming. Changing the perception of the ‘typical’ gamer from the ghetto of adolescents to middle-aged woman is (possibly) shrewd marketing – it creates an air of respectability, permanence and familiarity – “see, games are not so bad after all!” it says.

But reports like this irritate me. It’s difficult to fully explain why. I suspect it is because I regularly have to respond to people contesting such hysterical reporting. It’s to do with definitions of gamer such as ‘someone who had played a game on a mobile, handheld, console, PC, Internet or interactive TV at least once in the last 6 months.'(BBC, 2005, Gamers in the UK: Digital play, digital lifestyles – which claimed 59% of the UK are gamers). Their problem is this: playing an occasional game no more defines me as a Gamer than writing a holiday postcard makes me a Writer.

playing an occasional game no more defines me as a Gamer than writing a holiday postcard makes me a Writer

The long and the short of it is there is a world of difference between the typical Call of Duty player and someone casually dabbling in Farmville.

People wouldn’t be half as upset if they weren’t blindly categorised with obsessive gamers. Attempting to ‘civilise’ the stereotype of gamer by incorporating such wildly different usage patterns is rather optimistic because only the hardcore proponents are comfortable with the label. It’s not a helpful way to encourage a more positive attitude towards gaming.

It’d be much better if we celebrated the fact that one in three are finding time to play and having a positive experience from it. Now, that feels like something worth a headline.

* Incidentally, there’s no source or evidence attributed to the claim but others have suggested similarly high figures.

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