The aim of this paper is to examine the identity of the gamer and whether it is still a relevant moniker. Since the 1980s we as a society have operated under the guise of the gamer, when it is not a true reflection of people who are currently playing video games. Studying the statistics for people who are playing games, the kinds of gamers out there and how they have deviated from the idea of the gamer are important in determining whether we should still be using the name gamer. This paper also examines the GamerGate movement and how the actions through that have corrupted what it means to be a gamer and what that has done for the identifier.
In 2006, South Park released an episode called “Make Love, Not Warcraft” which was intended as a satirical take on nerd culture. In the episode, the main characters are all playing World of Warcraft and find themselves struggling against a griefer in the game. Whilst the characters never see this person, we as the audience do. What we see is what is intended to be the typical gamer, an overweight white male. We are not provided with any more information, but we can make assumptions that the character would be straight and the reason we say this is because this forms the idea of what a gamer is “primarily young, heterosexual, White/Anglo and male.” (Shaw, 2011). This is an idea we see perpetuated throughout media and it has even led to serious and debate which we saw escalate in 2014 to the GamerGate movement. In response to this movement, we have seen a reluctance to take on the identifier of gamer from members of the community. When we look at who is playing games today, this idea of the gamer is not reflective of the actual demographic. The market is opening up to a new kind of gamer, mobile gaming is providing new opportunities. What it means to be a gamer has changed, the world has moved on from this stereotype and created a more diverse community, despite the attempts of what GamerGate embodied and has created the next step in how people who play games identify themselves.
What is a “gamer”?
When we look to the history of what it means to be a “gamer”, we go back to the start of the video gaming market in the 1980s and 1990s to find that gaming was being advertised to the white, heterosexual, male adolescent boy (De Grove et al., 2015). When the industry was just starting out it had a strong dedication to this group as they became not only the core market for video games, but the base level standard to how it should operate (Fron et al., 2007). It is important to understand moving forward that this became the model of the everyday gamer. This excludes people of other races, sexual orientations, genders and ages. Yet being a gamer is not something that is inherently belonging to this one kind of people, it is a hobby that can be taken up by anyone. With the idea of the gamer as the young white male, it becomes highly exclusionary (Fron et al., 2007). There have been studies conducted into examining what the gamer looks like today and how they hold up against the stereotype, and even though the data shows that the image does not reflect in the people, the image holds strong (Kowert et al., 2014). Together with this idea of the who the gamer is, the types of games being played also relate very heavily to this identity. When looking at the genre of game associated with the gamer, we most commonly see the genres of shooters, roleplay and massive multiplayer online games (De Grove et al, 2015; Kort-Butler, 2020; Paaßen et al., 2017). Because all of these elements become intertwined, a lot of this comes together to form the basis of the gamer’s idea of their own masculinity. The identity and the space in which this play is occurring is a very masculine space, the importance of it grows in a perpetuating cycle (Paaßen et al., 2017). This leaves us with a highly masculinised space and focused on games that will tend to have a violent component. It is a very specific idea of what a gamer is and not at all reflective of that actual demographic of people playing games today.
So who is playing video games?
Trying to find reliable information about gaming can be difficult, especially with the reticence to be identified as a gamer. There is an added level of complexity when there is a portion of people not wanting to be identified with the stigma of being a gamer (Shaw, 2011). The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) is an organisation in Australia that advocates for the video game industry. Their most recent report (Brand et al., 2019) found that the average age of the player was 34 years old, which has increased since their 2007 report which found the average age to be 28 years of age. We are also coming much closer to a parity in gender with 47% of players identifying as female, though it should be noted that this data was collected purely using the gender binary of male or female, therefore a more nuanced data collection could provide for more varied results. Finally, I would like to note that 42% of people aged above 65 years of age reported to play video games. A cursory view of the information gathered shatters the notion of the stereotypical gamer and yet we as a society seem determined to hold onto the caricature that has developed over the years as can been seen in television, online platforms, print media and even the news (Kowert et al., 2012). A diverse crowd of people are playing video games, yet do not want or think of themselves as a gamer. As we study why people avoid the name of gamer, we need to examine a pushback from within the gamer community to see this definition change – GamerGate.
Even the gamers have a Gate moment
It started with a forum on 4chan discussing allegations made against game developer Zoe Quinn by her ex-boyfriend and exploded into public discourse after actor Adam Baldwin made a tweet with two videos on the topic with the hashtag “GamerGate” (Shaw & Chess, 2016). It was started as a movement protecting the identity of a gamer because of a fear that the core market of the gamer was being diluted through appealing to minorities and feminism (O’Donnell, 2020). When this plays out, it becomes a struggle between one group of people wanting to keep gaming as a male-dominated space against what they see as the other, and then what is actually the wider audience of individuals playing games wanting to be recognised and acknowledged. However, within those wanting there not to be change, we see extremist elements.
When we study the GamerGate movement, we need to understand the perspective of those who were on the inside of the gamer identity during the time. While on the outset this is seen as a discussion about what it is to be a gamer and what that identity is, because of the way the gamer has been shaped previously, it is not just about the association with video games. Tangential to the identity of a gamer is that of a nerd. Stereotyped much like the gamer, key characteristics of the stereotypical nerd is an understanding of technology, being socially inept and importantly, white and male (Kendall, 2011). We are not just discussing what it means to be a gamer, we are discussing what it means to be a man and masculinity.
It is important to also look at where these discussions were taking place and we can see how it was given the space in which it could fester. Many of the discussions happening around GamerGate started on the message board side 4chan as well as across Reddit and Twitter. Sites especially like Twitter and 4chan have often been used as spaces for harassment (Massanari, 2017) and it leads to very serious levels of action being taken. Zoe Quinn was the main target of the GamerGate vitriol and she notes “As soon as it hit 4Chan, they went into ‘get this bitch’ mode. They started doxxing me immediately, asking who had hacking skills.” (Stuart, 2014). Through the actions of doxxing, which is the public revealing of private information, and constant online harassment, her and other prominent names like Anita Sarkeesian were forced to cancel events and even leave their homes for their own safety. Of course, with these extreme elements, many within the GamerGate community would insist that these actions were taken by individuals not properly associated with the movement (Massanari, 2017). Yet all of these actions are taken within the accordance of what the GamerGate movement was representing, with the conflation of gaming and masculinity being eroded with the incoming diversity into the online community of the types of games being made, the people playing them and the people making them (Dowling et al., 2020). The gaming community have come together to create a networked public, but as the GamerGate movement has grown, it has developed into its own new community group. While the people who play games have change, this original core market is holding on to what they believe their identity is so strongly that a divide exists almost to the point of two separate identities of gamer, yet the isolationist GamerGate ideology means they wants to be the only ones with the title gamer.
The death of the gamer
Angry Birds was released in 2009 by the team Rovio as a game for Apple products using the touchscreen technology. It is a game about firing birds at pigs and two years later, it has been downloaded over 200 million times (Wilson et al., 2011). Since then, the company has released multiple sequels and other games, all with millions of downloads. Mobile gaming itself is exploding and we are entering what Juul (2009) calls a casual revolution. This is changing the kinds of games we see being made and no longer is there such a focus on what the original core market for video games was. In an interview with game developer Warren Spector, Juul (2009) asked about the change that casual gaming was bringing into the industry and part of his answer highlighted how this changing identity is affecting the industry as a whole, “it is harder and harder to ﬁnd people willing to fund games that only go after that narrow hardcore audience.” (Juul, 2009, pp 204). At the time of over 200 million downloads, it was shown that 53% of mobile gamers in America were women and there was a gender homogeneity developing (Bouça, 2012). Mobile gaming was opening doors to people to experience and enjoy gaming, and this begins to change who are gamers.
We can look earlier than Angry Birds to the mid-90s with the introduction of ‘pink games’ (Eklund, 2016). Early examples include Barbie Fashion Designer and Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover, games which were designed and marketed to a female audience. It is important to note here that these are games that fall under their own category. The female game was treated as thought it was a genre instead of part of the market, “This kind of targeting distances women from mainstream games” (Shaw, 2011, p.39). Other steps were taken such as the introduction of Nancy Drew games, which broaden the idea of the girl game, but the majority of the games for girls were packaged in pink (Dickey, 2006). Importantly as Dickey (2006) continue to discuss and point out, we need to examine what and whose notion of femininity is being used as the model for what to make and for who these games are being advertised.
The other end of the spectrum to ‘pink games’ is the over sexualisation of women. Female characters, playable or not, will more likely be helpless, sexually provocative and in revealing clothing (Fisher, 2015). These representations of women provide a short-sighted and stereotyped view that cannot possibly reflect real life. This can lead to greater tolerance of these attitudes and reflections as being true to life and cause many female gamers feeling forced to hide their true identity because of previous negative experiences when engaging as themselves in gaming (McLean & Griffiths, 2013). Without wider representation, it is difficult to be able to take the entirety of gaming and channel them into a single category to be games for girls. The established gamers could be provided with a variety of options for their games, be it puzzle, action, adventure or any other such category, but girls are either given the single category or made to be a person with whom they share no similarities.
It is not just gender but age that is changing in this new time of gaming. Known as the Skyrim Grandma, Shirley Curry is an 85 year old woman who posts videos of her playing Skyrim to nearly a million subscribers (Shirley Curry, n.d.) and we are seeing studies take place into the socioemotional benefits of playing games for older people (Allaire et al., 2013). We have already seen the rise in the average age of the gamer and now we are seeing the scope of that age really widening. Another aspect of the widening age of gamers is the opportunities for generations of gamers to come together. Older players have been seen in positive lights by younger games for the efforts in playing games, and it also gives the opportunity for those people to connect with younger people through games (Quandt et al., 2009). This coming together works completely opposite to the isolationist quality that GamerGate brought upon the identity of the gamer. Much to the disappointment of those who do not want to see any change, the idea of the gamer has shifted radically from what was first identified by the market.
Can we ever be gamers again?
There has definitely been a push back to the identity of the gamer as society seems determined to hold up this idea of what a gamer is, even though we have plenty of research to prove otherwise. We have seen people publicly come forward and renounce being identified with what we call a gamer in the face of this growing minority within the identity and the exclusionary culture that exudes from it (Scimeca, 2014; Parkin, 2013). How will the old and new ideas of gamers come together? Chess & Shaw (2015) were some of the academics who became caught up in the GamerGate mess when it first started, were targeted for their involvement in the attempts to dismantle hegemonic masculinity. Yet their work is not an abandonment of what it means to be a gaming and the industry of gaming, indeed they “chose to both dismantle and embrace the hegemonic masculinity” (Chess & Shaw, 2015, p.218). What they and other academics recognise is that who we define as a gamer needs to evolve. Moving forward there needs to be more discussion about how the gaming community can include and accept this new idea of a gamer. Kowert (2014) proposes a number of ideas around the steps that can be taken to improve the image of the gamer, such as calling out the behaviour that has caused the identity of gamer to be so controversial. If we follow her ideas, the community of gamers can go through a change to become more accepting and going through a form of rebranding. Whether this will be possible given some of the extreme ideas and practices that grip the gaming community, time will tell. No matter what some people may want, the new gamer fits a new definition, but with a complicated history to the idea of being a gamer, it may be too much for the idea of the gamer to have any relevance or acceptance.
A different kind of future
In a 2010 episode of QI, Stephen Fry shared the fact that biologist Stephen Jay Gould had determined that as fish were so separate from each other that “there is no such thing as a fish” (Fry, 2010). In studying what it means to be a gamer, we can see that the idea of a gamer has changed dramatically since video games took hold of the public consciousness in the 1980s. With so much evidence against what we believe a gamer to be still existing, the idea of the gamer no longer makes sense with gaming becoming such a varied activity done by people across all manners of life. It may be time that the identity of the gamer be retired so that we can find the language for a better, more encompassing moniker or even a variety of monikers. A series of descriptors that could represent the wide spectrum of players from the grandma playing Skyrim, to the person playing Angry Birds on their phone and to the young, straight, white male.
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Bouça, M. (2012). Angry Birds, uncommitted players. Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2012 Conference: Local and global—Games in culture and society (pp. 1-13). Digital Games Research Association. http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/12168.54008.pdf
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Chess, S., & Shaw, A. (2015). A conspiracy of fishes, or, how we learned to stop worrying about #GamerGate and embrace hegemonic masculinity. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(1), 208-200. https://doi.org/10.1080/08838151.2014.999917.
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Dowling, D.O., Goetz, C., & Lathrop, D. (2020). One year of #GamerGate: The shared twitter link as emblem of masculinist gamer identity. Games and Culture, 15(8), 982-1003. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412019864857.
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Fisher, H. D. (2015). Sexy, dangerous—and ignored: An in-depth review of the representation of women in select video game magazines. Games and Culture 10(6), 551-570. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412014566234.
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Fry, S. (2020, October 1). Hoaxes (Season No. 8, Episode No. 3). [Television transcript]. In QI. BBC. https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/qi/episodes/8/3/
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Kendall, L. (2011). “White and nerdy”: Computers, race, and the nerd stereotype. Journal of Popular Culture, 44(3), 505-524. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2011.00846.x.
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Kowert, R., Festl, R., & Quandt, T. (2014). Unpopular, overweight, and socially inept: Reconsidering the stereotype of online gamers. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(3), 141-146. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2013.0118.
Kowert, R., Griffiths, M. D., & Oldmeadow, J.A. (2012). Geek or chic? Emerging stereotypes of online gamers. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 32(6), 471-479. https://doi.org/10.1177/0270467612469078.
Massanari, A. (2017). #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. new media & society, 19(3), 329-346. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444815608807.
McLean, L., & Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Female gamers: A thematic analysis of their gaming experience. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(3), 54-71. https://doi.org/10.4018/ijgbl.2013070105.
O’Donnell, J. (2020). Militant meninism: The militaristic discourse of Gamergate and Men’s Rights Activism. Media, Culture & Society, 42(5), 654-674. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443719876624.
Paaßen, B., Morgenroth, T., & Stratemeyer, M. (2017). What is a true gamer? The male gamer stereotype and the marginalization of women in video game culture. Sex Roles, 73, 421-435. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0678-y.
Parkin, S. (2013, December 9). If you love games, you should refuse to be called a gamer. NewStatesman. https://www.newstatesman.com/if-you-love-games-you-are-not-a-gamer.
Quandt, T., Grueninger, H., & Wimmer, J. (2009). The gray haired gaming generation: Findings from an explorative interview study on older computer games. Games and Culture, 4(1), 27-46. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412008325480.
Scimeca, D. (2014, January 2). Why I can’t call myself a gamer anymore. Salon. https://www.salon.com/2014/01/02/why_i_cant_call_myself_a_gamer_anymore/
Shaw, A. (2011). Do you identify as a gamer? Gender, race, sexuality, and gamer identity. new media & society, 14(1), 28-44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444811410394.
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Stuart, K. (2014, December 4). Zoe Quinn: ‘All Gamergate has done is ruin people’s lives’. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/03/zoe-quinn-gamergate-interview.
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49 thoughts on “There is no such thing as a “gamer””
Overall, your paper does a pretty good job in disassembling the stereotype of “gamers” are being entirely young white male heterosexual teens. The only shortcoming I can see is identifying where this stereotype comes from
Industry data going back decades shows that older people and women have been playing games for decades, and there are multiple Pew research polls showing that people who call themselves “gamers” are actually more likely to be nonwhite and low-income (when compared with people who play games, but deny being a “gamer”)
I’d love to post links to this data, but I don’t know if I’m allowed, my past comment containing a bunch of citations doesn’t seem to have gone through.
Aside from that, the only shortcoming I can see is the description of Gamergate. Parsing through the many interviews, forums posts, and articles written by Gamergate supporters- they seem to also be of the opinion that gaming was *always* diverse. Many of the women and PoC who supported the movement also created their own hashtag (#NotYourShield) specifically to try and combat being stereotyped as a bunch of white men.
Even when I do a search of the main Gamergate subreddit for any mention of Skyrim grandma Shirley, their reaction towards her is entirely supportive. As an experiment, I searched r/kotakuinaction for mentions of other famous women game developers (Roberta Williams, Jade Raymond, Yoko Shimomura) similarly saw nothing but support for their accomplishments. Gamergate itself doesn’t seem to live up to the stereotype.
Beyond that, there’s just the question of whether Gamergate organized the harassment and doxxing of women in the industry. They claim they didn’t, and that they banned all organized harassment and doxing from the start. Zoe Quinn makes a reference to someone in a Gamergate irc chatroom putting out a request for hackers (she had also posted screenshots of this person). But for some reason, she omits the fact that Gamergate immediately denounced the person and banned them. And that’s been their stance from the start. Even when the FBI investigated the death threats sent to Anita Sarkeesian that caused her to flee her home and cancel a speech at a college, neither made any mention of Gamergate or video games. Despite that fact, the press initially reported that GG was the source of the threats, but never issued retractions when the full threats were published.
I’m not pointing this out to defend Gamergate, as it’s a hashtag movement that’s nebulously hard to define as much as any other hashtag movement. But it’s extremely important to accurately gauge and find the source of online sexism and abuse. And all evidence seems to indicate that it doesn’t take an online conspiracy for sexist trolls to act, they’ve been doing it on their own for decades before GG existed.
Thanks for reading the paper.
I’ll reply here to both of your comments. Yeah for some reason the moment you try to add a link in a comment, the site doesn’t like it. So it went through, it just needed to be approved so I have been able to look at the links you gave.
Looking back on my paper and after some of the conversations I have had in this, I do think the paper is really lacking when it comes to the discussion of race. It was involved in my original setup of the gamer stereotype but I never properly went into it in the paper as I knew that there were large gaming populations that weren’t white. If I was to do it again, I would actually love to try and focus just in Australia, but that would probably involve me collecting data as a lot of the research is online and American based.
Reading the Pew research was interesing! I wonder if there was a reason why Hispanic people had such a lead on other ethnicities when it comes to identifying as gamer. I also found it interesting that amongst people who played games, both men and women, there was a strong belief that the assumption that it was a man playing video games. I wasn’t able to see anything about the data going back years however. If you have links and still see this today, I will try to check in regularly and approve any comments, would love to see it.
Yeah in a previous thread the NotYourShield was brought up. I do think it is very valid and important to listen to all voices. I love that Grandma Shirley has gotten nothing but support, she deserves it. I guess really at this point I would want to see or even do more research into speaking with people who are active within the GamerGate community to get a thorough idea of beliefs and values. Like I don’t believe that every single person involved in the movement is representative of what I wrote about in my paper. But for instance, in the first link you posted of the reddit thread, someone wrote “So you’re telling me that a woman designed Chun Li, Cammy, R. Mika, and (possibly) Laura? So basically women are complaining about the work of other women? This is delicious.” and it is the top comment. Personally I really don’t like this argument because whoever made it doesn’t negate the effects that it has. As a broad argument, sexism isn’t purely the territory of men, women can be sexist as well. Now I am by now way calling the creator of these characters sexist, but just because a woman made them doesn’t negate the fact it was made in a male dominated industry where approval was most likely done by a male figure. Unfortunately when I tried to go to the actual article it was a dead link so I coulddn’t read more into it.
In terms of Anita, she did actually tweet that one of the threats was specifically made with reference to GamerGate https://twitter.com/femfreq/status/522218152071925760. But the other thing with Anita being held up is that I think she represents something closer to the extreme on the otherside. I have watched some of her videos that got the most vitrol and I thought she made some good points. I also thought that she made some clear misrepresentations. But I wasn’t able to engaged in any debate because it has become so radicalised that you either hated or passionately supported.
And you are right, it is very difficult because this conversation started mostly around a hashtag and the community that came from it. And yeah trolls have always exists and unfortunately will contine to exist. But I think in this particular argument, I stand on the otherside to GamerGate because from perspective, I see it as saying games can do better where inside of GamerGate think it is being cancelled and has to completely change. And I do not agree with cancel culture.
And when we bring all of this back to the idea of being a gamer, if we put aside the intricacies of the debate, the fact that it got so big and wellknown I think can play a part in the decision as to whether people want to identify as a gamer or not.
Hope you see this before the end of the day, would love to see more of that data 🙂
Hi Thomas, I appreciate your reply.
Regarding the data on the “gamer” title, ArsTechnica put out an article in 2015 based on the Pew research data titled “Survey: “Gamers” are poorer, more male, less white than “game players””. You should be able to find it with a google search
Regarding the question of whether women in the game industry can make sexist content- while it’s certainly true that women are capable of hating their own gender, I think it’s pretty insufficient as an explanation as to why they would create sexualized content. They do it either to entertain themselves, or to entertain audiences. For instance, Japan has more women comic artists and creators per capita than any other nation. And nearly half of the creators of erotic fan-comics are themselves women, the biggest comic fan convention in the world (Comiket) has an entire day set aside for women artists to peddle what is largely smut.
“In terms of Anita, she did actually tweet that one of the threats was specifically made with reference to GamerGate https://twitter.com/femfreq/status/522218152071925760. ”
I should probably provide more context, the FBI investigated this specific threat and found it to be not credible, for a number of reasons. For starters, it was a meme-filled email that threatened to drop “over 9000 bombs” on Anita Sarkeesian. Secondly, it was clearly written with the intention of implicating Gamergate. The author signed it with the name of an individual who had supported Gamergate, but constantly denounced any threats against Anita. He was visited and questioned by the FBI, whom noted that he was clearly not the author. You can read the threat email for yourself and come to your own conclusion. It’s on page 16 of the FBI’s file on Gamergate:
The FBI also documented a number of other threats, none of which mentioned Gamergate.
As an aside, Gamergate to date has been the only group to have successfully identified the source of death threats being sent to Anita. They had traced them to a Brazilian clickbait blogger, and had passed his info and the proof onto Antia:
Overall this is a pretty good paper, although there are some assumptions being made that I have to question. Such as the stereotype that gamers are primarily young, white, male, and heterosexual. It’s important to ask, who exactly holds this stereotype? As detailed in the paper, industry data shows that older people and women have been playing games for decades. Further studies show that even people who describe themselves as a “gamer” are more likely to be nonwhite and low-income. Whereas people who play games but deny the ‘gamer’ label are more likely to be white and middle-class:
That, and most gamers on the planet are currently living in nowhite countries. But while the perception of outsiders that it’s dominated by nerdy white teenage males, how do members of Gamergate see themselves and their hobby? Because it seems to be the perception of Gamgergate supporters that gaming was *always* diverse and inclusive, and they don’t seem to hesitate to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the industry when presented:
Even the PoC and women who supported Gamergate had to create their own hashtag, #NotYourSheild, to remind the press to stop assuming they’re all white men.
Out of curiosity, I did a search of Grandma Shirley Curry in the main Gamergate subreddit, and ever mention was positive and supportive of her.
Wrong. The hordes of casuals playing mobile games does not erase “Gamers” from being a thing, it puts even more emphasis on “Gamers” being a thing in order delineate from the masses.
A “Gamer”, someone who has a passion and hobby for gaming, is not the same as someone playing a mobile game for a couple minutes while waiting for something else. Nor are the PC/Console markets the same.
I think this comment may be in response to someone else’s comment in a thread below.
So if playing a game on a phone doesn’t count as being a gamer, to your mind what qualifies for the name?
What constitutes a gamer is someone who is enthusiastic about games, and someone who is willing to play other games and change it up. You don’t call someone a cinephile if they just watch films occasionally, you call them a cinephile if they’re passionate about films, research films, and enjoys the medium surrounding films. That’s not to say you can’t have preferences, but if you play just the one game, or just one genre of games, and you’re not really interested in testing other genres or games and indifferent to other games as a whole, or you just play once in a while to pass the time, then you’re not a gamer. Simple.
This idea that the label of ‘gamer’ encompasses anyone who’s played a game or currently playing a game, be it mobile or console or PC, has given the false impression that the male and female demographic’s interests are pretty much the same in every respect, and that they play every game with equal measure. There apparently is no difference between the demographic who play Call of Duty and the demographic who play Sim games on Facebook because female players make up almost half of the gaming market (according to the data).
It is, of course, wrong, as anyone willing to delve into the data would tell you, as is the notion that gamers are and/or were homogenous in identity and complexion and sexuality. The only ones who implicate this (with no evidence, mind, none) are seemingly obsessed with race, sex and gender and as far as I’m concerned, mentally unwell.
So just to expand on your idea a bit, what about people who do only play the one game, like Starcraft for instance. People who devote a lot of time and energy into the one game, know it completely inside and out and everything related to them, would they not count as a gamer? Or even those who play games within the one genre, so someone who maybe knows every real time strategy game?
Do you have any links to data on women playing Facebook games taking up such a large percentage of it? I would be interested to see it.
I don’t know if we need to start saying people are mentally unwell. This is a discussion around stereotypes which people engage with on a daily basis.
There are some gender disparities in the types of games and forms of entertainment that men and women prefer. Of course, this is a generalization, and none of these genres are better or worse than any other. But industry data exists and is pretty interesting:
So, raises some interesting points. It seems that women form their game preferences mostly based off the actual gameplay and genre, rather than the presence or omission of content that could be considered sexist. Racing games and tactical shooters are pretty devoid of sexism but get next to no interest from women. Whereas Japanese RPGs and MMOs are immensely popular with women despite openly pandering with sexualized women characters and ‘bikini armor’, etc
Wrong. The hordes of casuals playing mobile games does not erase “Gamers” from being a thing, it puts even more emphasis on “Gamers” being a thing in order delineate from the masses.
A “Gamer”, someone who has a passion and hobby for gaming, is not the same as someone playing a mobile game for a couple minutes while waiting for something else. Nor are the PC/Console markets the same.
I finally got around to reading and commenting on your paper! Thanks for the interesting and well researched read. The structure and flow were great, and I particularly enjoyed your thorough overview of the topic.
‘Gamer’ has always had more negative than positive associations, especially from the outside looking in. I completely agree with the points you have made in your paper and understand that the word limit only allows for a certain number of examples to be considered or discussed within the paper. In the interest of furthering this discussion, I have a few points that I would love your opinion on.
I feel as though the inherent nature of ‘fun, play and games’ and the view of games and gaming being associated to purely leisure time has exerted a fair amount of influence on the negative connotations. There does not seem to be a great deal of social capital attached to gaming or being a gamer. This is obviously changing with the increase in eSports and popularity of games streamers, streaming services, and content producers on the likes of YouTube. I mean just look at PewDiePie for example. However, this again provides another point of contention for me as it has taken the ability of some individuals to make large sums of money from gaming and game related content for the idea of being a gamer to have a more valued or solidified position in society. Gaming still holds its ties to being an activity purely of leisure, or in many cases time wasting (have a look at Joe Rogan’s latest comments on gaming being a waste of time if you’re interested in a recent and typified example of how gamer still holds its negative connotations) and this remains a problem with the idea of people attaching themselves or identifying with the term gamer. What do you think?
I also wonder how many people who play mobile games or just casually game would still be keen to identify themselves as a gamer? When I think about it, I personally would consider myself a gamer, I play video games pretty much every day, but would certainly not attach myself to the term or consider it one of my defining features. It makes me think of how I would introduce myself to someone. I would never say “Hi, I’m Simon. I’m a gamer” but I would say “I’m a Uni student” or “I’m a Chef”. I guess this is purely because of the negative connotations and associations the term gamer still carries. Despite the increase in diversity of gamers, to me there remains this stigma. In this sense I do completely agree with your concluding remarks (I especially love the fish analogy!) and believe that if we were to leave the ‘gamer’ associated identity behind, or at the very least drop the continued naming of this demographic, the negative associations may in time dissolve. I am slightly pessimistic on this front, as I believe that there are still far too many inherent hurdles to simply dropping this moniker, but at the same time I understand that greater and improved appreciation of the diversity of people who play games, or the ‘gamer spectrum’ if you will, may follow.
Thanks again for the great read Thomas. I hope my comments make sense, allow for further discussion on the topic and I look forward to your reply!
Not the author here, but I wanted to respond to one of your points.
“It makes me think of how I would introduce myself to someone. I would never say “Hi, I’m Simon. I’m a gamer” but I would say “I’m a Uni student” or “I’m a Chef”. I guess this is purely because of the negative connotations and associations the term gamer still carries. Despite the increase in diversity of gamers, to me there remains this stigma. ”
Why did you think of this example? Is it not typical to introduce yourself with name and profession?
Why would you think that gamer – presumably a hobby of yours – would be more important to use except for “the negative connotations and associations”? Would an elderly gentlemen who fishes as a hobby choose to introduce himself as “I’m a fisherman”, rather than “I’m retired”? Would a non-gamer introduce themselves as “I watch TV” or “I build plastic models”? Playing football is pretty prestigious, I think, and yet only the professional league players would introduce themselves that way.
Are you afraid to discuss video games with your friends? Would you go out of your way to conceal or hide it? I think these questions are far more important.
I totally agree that many would talk up what they do, a Youtuber may describe themselves as “editing video for online consumption”, in the same way that a programmer would become a “software engineer”. But I do not understand the logic of your particular example.
Thanks for replying to my comment even though you aren’t the original poster!
In regards to your comment, I feel as though you have taken this select quote out of the context of the rest of my comment in order to pick apart the general argument of the reply and the conference paper itself. Not that I’m suggesting this is necessarily a bad thing, but I feel as though it goes in much the same vein as your “devil’s advocate” response post.
I used that example to show that the term gamer does indeed carry some negative connotations. I am a Uni student, chef and gamer. I feel as though all of these identifiers would be an adequate way to describe my ‘profession’ so to speak, either that or they are some of the things that I do that perform a defining role on my character – they are just some examples of the things that make me who I am. It’s just that out of the 3 I would not choose gamer. And despite it being a big part of my life and who I am/what I do, I understand that when most people think of gamer, they automatically have a preconceived notion of my attitude and beliefs concerning subjects such as females, casual gaming etc. that are associated with the negative representation of the term gamer that continue to be perpetuated in todays media and elsewhere.
I understand your point about the old man not calling himself a fisherman, but rather retired, but I also feel as though he may choose fisherman over retiree – it all depends on how he wishes to be seen. And this is exactly the same as my example. Although I do game, and in a overall sense believe that I am a gamer, I would choose not to use this as a starting point in conversations with others.
I am certainly not afraid to discuss video games with my friends, they obviously know me well. And yes, at some times it is worth while going out of your way to conceal or hide it if the word/identity carries with it the very negative connotations that myself, and Thomas, the author of the paper are suggesting.
Your response is indeed justified, albeit leaning on the slightly negative and poke-the-bear side in my opinion, and I look forward to seeing your response – I’m sure you’ll be happy to provide.
Thanks for responding, Simon.
“Your response is indeed justified, albeit leaning on the slightly negative and poke-the-bear side in my opinion, and I look forward to seeing your response – I’m sure you’ll be happy to provide.”
That’s the point, in my view. The conference has been tending towards highly supportive of every paper and point brought up, but I’m almost certain that is not the intended outcome of this exercise. We were instructed to provide essays that were not fair, but one-sided essays intended to promote a perspective. We were instructed to “be both prepared to defend it during the conference and to use the position as a way of engaging with other people’s papers.” (Unit Outline page 4)
Essentially, I understand this to be an informal peer review, where we are supposed to engage with each other critically, and argue against any point we do not fully support. Supporting things you fully agree with – with full understanding of the topic – and arguing against details you do not fully support; both seem to be the goal.
So, yes, I am adopting a negative view, intentionally.
That said, this was a very honest criticism on my part. You, who do not hold negative views about gamers from your own personal experiences, are using your own avoidance of mentioning your gaming hobby in an introduction as evidence of a negative stereotype against gamers. This isn’t an experience that supports the essay, but an expectation.
In contrast, I have been been shown as a gamer to many people – relatives, and strangers – who were not engaged with gaming at all, with no hostile response. Admittedly, the term was never spoken aloud, but my familiarity was more likely to provoke requests for advice when dealing with their relatives.
You can understand that I’m not particularly sold on your argument. I’d like to know, has that ever actually gone negatively for you?
Thanks for the reply Joshua,
I am genuinely pleased that we have been able to have somewhat of a debate about this topic. Without your comments and “arguing against details you do not fully support” this conversation would not have been possible. You are similarly correct that that was the point of the whole exercise, and while I agree with you that from the papers, responses and comments I have read that there is a “highly supportive” trend, I felt compelled to reply to your comments and call out your negative response for this exact reason – to allow debate and discussion.
I do not necessarily agree with your comment “You, who do not hold negative views about gamers from your own personal experiences, are using your own avoidance of mentioning your gaming hobby in an introduction as evidence of a negative stereotype against gamers.” I do in fact have negative views about the term ‘gamer’ and by association ‘gamers’ in the context that you have used it. There are numerous scenarios online where I have witnessed others who strongly identify as ‘gamers’ perpetuating the negative stereotypes both myself and Thomas, and for that matter a multitude of academics have discussed. It is not just online, but in conversations I have had with a more generalist audience – asking other people in another unit I take at Curtin what they think of when I say gamer and they automatically see the stereotype like that suggested in the South Park episode. One response was actually “a fat guy still living in his Mums basement getting upset online”. And this is the crux of the argument – it is these individuals and groups that harass, troll, grief, feel emasculated by women who game or believe that their ‘safe-haven’ of the gaming world is being threatened by the changing tide – increased inclusivity, better representation and shifting societal conscience – that perpetuate the negative stereotype, cause me to hold onto some of my negative views, make me not want to identify myself as a ‘gamer’ (in or out of an introductory scenario) and are not reflective of the increasingly diverse individuals and communities that actually play video games.
I agree with you that the introductory scenario that I initially used in my first response to Thomas’s paper may not be the perfect way to explain the negative association myself and many people have to using the identifier ‘gamer’. It is not often that I would shake someone’s hand and say “Hi, I’m a gamer”, but it was a simple scenario that I believed would illuminate the fact that the word itself does carry certain connotations when you attach it to your identity. I, like yourself, was responding as honestly as I could to a topic that is obviously close to my heart and attempting to illustrate this to any reader of my comment in a generalized, fashion, allowing for further comment.
I know we are coming to the close of the conference, but I would love to hear your response if you do find time. I will say it again, while I did find your initial comments to seem less constructively critical and rather more cynical, you are absolutely correct that this was the idea behind having an academic debate. I thank you again for allowing this conversation to evolve and for your considered responses!
Thanks for taking the time to give it a read!
I definitely get your point with the leaisure side of gaming taking over the whole experience. When you think of people taking an afternoon to read a book, yes it is a leisurely activity, but you would think it is a perfectly acceptable to way to spend an afternoon. I know in my own experience playing games have brought me on the same kind of experiences as other forms of relaxation. I know that when I played Red Dead Redemption 2, finishing that story off I cried multiple times. The game took a long time but I loved every moment of it and being in that world. But then when you try to explain it to someone who doesn’t play games, that can really be difficult. And when you try to say it’s the same experience as reading a book or like the Marvel Cinematic Universe of something, when the other people don’t get it or just see it as that waste of time, completely ruins the expereince.
Seeing platforms like Twitch and YouTube giving more legitatmcy to games is great, but I can also see it as a double edged sword as it making gaming become playbour. Instead of being a space where you can purely relax and enjoy a game, there is a need to make content out of it to prove that it is worth the time being spent. This is a concept which I feels applies to more hobbies as well, but with so many people streaming, if you were to saying to someone, “Yeah, I’m a gamer” they could very well ask you what your Twitch streaming handle is, because (and I realise purely as I am typing and realising this paper really didn’t have enough words for this full argument) the identity of gamer is changing to become more of that professional label. Yes we can say pro-gamer, but to a wider audience who doesn’t play games, it all starts to become the same thing.
The mobile games thing is interesting. Where previously playing a game was done at an arcade where you physically had to go there and enter into a space which could have its own hurdles or you had to invest the money into owning a home console/PC, now phones are capable of doing so much! Sure you could play snake on your old Nokia, but now you can go from Flappy Bird to games which rival some early gen home console gaming on the PlayStation and Xbox. But I am of the opinion that the context of the game might shift the conversation. I mean, my lecturor in another unit Tama Leaver edited a whole book with Michele Willson called Social, casual and mobile games : the changing gaming landscape. My personal belief is that there is a mix. I play games on my phone when I am taking the train to work because it gives me something to do, but I don’t really consider those as games as such, more just time wasters. But at home on the PS4, that is me playing games and engaging more as what I could consider a gamer.
I guess when it comes to the future, I am hoepful that we will see more monikers come up. I really don’t think gamer is a wide enough term to really encapsulate it all. There is just too much that can fall under it that it really doesn’t do a good job. But I am not enough of a linguist to know what words we are going to use and who is going to create them.
Let me play devil’s advocate for a bit.
What throws me off about this paper is it’s total dependence on a specific stereotype. It screams “Americentrism”. That gamers are more than young white males is a statement so painfully ignorant that it could only be believed by small children with no introspection, gamer parents, or female associates whatsoever. Nintendo is a Japanese company. Hideo Kojima is one of the biggest names in gaming. Games have begun with “Are you a boy or a girl” for decades.
“It may be time that the identity of the gamer be retired so that we can find the language for a better, more encompassing moniker or even a variety of monikers.”
This is about as logical as saying that “sportsperson” needs to be retired because there are synchronized swimmers, and bowls players, and we need to stop using a moniker that brings to mind the AFL.
Do people need to stop thinking of gamers as young white men, or fat white basement nerds? Yes, of course. But it’s not a secret, or something that people hide or ignore. It’s well known… but it’s also not something that people spend an immense amount of time on.
When software designers develop software, they put together “user stories”. Essentially, they commit to a demographic to market to. People they expect to buy the game.
The Entertainment Software Association put together some statistics which we can look at, and we’ll assume video game companies do as well. (2020) It’s an American organization, but we’ll just have to cope with that for a moment. fhttps://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Final-Edited-2020-ESA_Essential_facts.pdf
65% of American Adults play games, with an average age of 33. 41% Female, 59% Male. In a further breakdown, statistics lean towards console gaming being preferred by males, 18-55. (Limited data was collected on children.) Outside of that demographic, it leans towards smartphone and casual games.
Quantic Foundry, 2017. https://quanticfoundry.com/2017/01/19/female-gamers-by-genre/
Here, we have a breakdown of what genres female gamers play. On the high end, we have “Match 3” and “Farm Sim”. On the low end, “Sports”, “Tactical Shooter”, “Racing”, and “FPS”.
VentureBeat, quoting the NPD group. https://venturebeat.com/2021/01/15/npd-reveals-the-best-selling-games-of-2020-in-the-u-s/
In short, the overlap between genres women enjoy, and top selling games of 2020 was… low. Top two games were both Call of Duty, which was one of the lowest genres preferred by women, at 7%.
Combined, we start to see an issue. There is an extreme lean towards certain demographics preferring certain technologies and experiences. It’s far from homogeneous. This is going to have an effect on how things are marketed.
The “white” part is almost certainly an issue with Euro-centrism and Americentrism. If you go to Asia, that opinion will break down immediately. South Korea is a massive gaming hotspot. China is immensely powerful in gaming. Japan’s impact on gaming is inescapable.
Pulling this data together, I suspect a lot of people think about white, young male gamers, because there are a lot of them, on consoles and PC, talking about games. Obviously, the stereotype is wrong, but we can see why people believe it. It’s far easier to market these massive, expensive, major titles, to this massive, dedicated, mostly male audience.
In addition, presumably, many mobile gamers are downloading games off the apple store and aren’t particularly interested in being in a community about solitare, Candy Crush Saga, or the like. Or perhaps there is, and this paper would benefit about explaining the divide between these communities. They aren’t coming in to gaming stores. They aren’t going to conventions, which focus more on consoles, PC, and new hardware, like VR. They likely don’t congregate in “gaming spaces” at all, without playing on PC or console.
Sure, there’s a Skyrim Grandma… but Skyrim sold 50,000,000 copies, and has 22,000 Thousand players on Steam (not even PC, just Steam) at this very moment. Exceptions are not evidence of a substantial demographic.
Now, don’t get me wrong, mobile games make tons of money ( https://sensortower.com/blog/top-mobile-games-by-worldwide-revenue-december-2020 ) and have tons of players (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-played_mobile_games_by_player_count) but they’re invested in entirely different games, on entirely different hardware. With presumably some overlap, but there doesn’t seem to be enough shared interest to be integrated.
Yes, there is no One True Gamer. But only the foolish believe the stereotype is fact.
In any case, I’ve said too much. Congrats on your paper.
Thanks for giving this a read and I apprecaite a different opinion being thrown out there.
It is interesting how you say this paper throws you off because it is all based around a stereotype, where that is in a way the focus of my paper, the fact that we have this stereotype and hold onto it.
You make a good point about the sportsperson argument. I am not sure about what it is that should be used as an identifier, but right now gamer can be seen as a generic term which does what is says on the label of encompassing the hobby. Yet at the same time, while we have sportsperson as a general term in nomenclature, we can also say swimmer, footy player, basketball player and so on which is a very common term. When it comes to games, I definitely know of people who have a preference and focus, such as FPS shooters and RPGs, but speaking anecdoctally, it is spoken of as something that a person does and not as attached to part of an identity. However this all just comes from personal belief.
I did find that that report from The Entertainment Software Association however I was interested to find in an Australian counterpart, the IGEA, we have a far greater diverse representation of people who are playing video games https://igea.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DA20-Report-FINAL-Aug19.pdf. I believe I see the point you are trying to make in that because of a demographic crossover between what people like to play and what sells, that the market will skew towards to sell. However an interesting point I read in the Quantic Foundry paper who gave said:
“…but there may be a lot more going on. For example, games on the bottom of the chart tend to not have female protagonists, tend to involve playing with strangers online, and tend to have a lot of rapid 3D movement which can lead to motion sickness (which women are more susceptible to). ”
Ignoring the third point as it doesn’t really relate to the argument here, these first two points work specicically with my argument in that. With a market that is focused on this old idea of the “gamer” it can make it harder for other people to come into the space and feel like they belong here. In this thread of comments we have multile examples of people who feel like they wouldn’t be welcome in playing games with other online and that comes from what we accept as an idea of what identites are. Because this idea of the gamer still exists, people think they won’t be welcome in a space which is actually made up of a lot of people just like themselves.
Yes the part of race in this paper is very lacking and is taken from a largely Western perspective. If I was able to do this again and had more space, I would take some more time to do a deeper dive into race representation amongst the idea of being gamer. However as a large part of this paper was in reaction to the GamerGate movement, that is where I based a lot of that on.
It is interesting, as I read through your comment where you propose to play devil’s advocate, I actually think you are more on the side of my paper than you think. The point that I am trying to get across is that what has been held up as the idea of the “gamer” isn’t reflective of the wider gaming community, but that it does still hold stock as a stereotype and that stereotype, even though the numbers are changing has effects on people who play games, but more importantly the identifier of “gamer”. Again as we have seen in these comments, people play games, but they don’t think of themselves or would refer to themselves as gamers and I think that is interesting. Hence do we need to have a different name for it? As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been a giant lashback at being a sportsperson, but we have seen it for gamers.
I’m a bit unsure by your point on Skyrim Grandma. I was using her as an example of the older demographic playing video games, not so much for the game itself. Could you please elaborate on that part?
I understand that you may think only the foolish believe in the stereotype, but that stereotype has and does exist, it has done harm (in my opinion) to the video game industry and we are seeing the effects of it still.
Interested to hear your response if you have the time this weekend 🙂
Well considered and fair response Thomas.
You have certainly been able to articulate some of my thoughts concerning Joshua’s comment and reply better than myself. I too am interested to see the response.
“Yet at the same time, while we have sportsperson as a general term in nomenclature, we can also say swimmer, footy player, basketball player and so on which is a very common term. ”
JRPG fan, shooter fan. Simple, but I don’t think this basic terminology is much different from “footy playet, basketball player”.
“Ignoring the third point as it doesn’t really relate to the argument here, these first two points work specicically with my argument in that. With a market that is focused on this old idea of the “gamer” it can make it harder for other people to come into the space and feel like they belong here. In this thread of comments we have multile examples of people who feel like they wouldn’t be welcome in playing games with other online and that comes from what we accept as an idea of what identites are. Because this idea of the gamer still exists, people think they won’t be welcome in a space which is actually made up of a lot of people just like themselves.”
Ignoring that it’s clear there’s no evidence backing that up – it’s the writers supposition, and an avenue for future research – let’s break that down a bit. None of those, I think, are a complete match for that logic.
Grand Strategy is very much not any of those (Civilisation).
FPS can be, true, but not often at the same time. Quick trip to the Call of Duty home page (https://www.callofduty.com/au/en/home) or any of the four games listed under the “games” banner, immediately throws a female character or two in my face. (Except Mobile, which is too fast to tell either way.) Call Of Duty *really* wants women to play more. Depending on whether or not Borderlands counts as FPS, that’s not true. I guess Halo doesn’t have a female protagonist?
Racing doesn’t typically have protagonists, in my experience. Except Mario Kart, which I understand to be more popular among women, and has several female and non-gender-specific playables. Online play exists, but has no voice chat in games I’m aware of.
Sports… is entirely real-life-derived. Like, okay. I think there’s more correlation between female sports fans and female sports game players than there is because of “female main characters”.
I am not entirely certain what a Tactical Shooter even is. I can’t think of a 3rd person shooter that’s not a platformer, and FPS wouldn’t be a separate category otherwise.
But on the other side, we have MMOs. So that more exposed form of online is apparently okay, but not shooters? Japanese RPG and Western RPG are unusually high considering they’re not that much more prone to female protagonists. Female playables, yes, but I don’t think anyone is going to tell me that Tifa is the protagonist of FF7, though she is very important to it.
“However as a large part of this paper was in reaction to the GamerGate movement, that is where I based a lot of that on.”
While we’re on the subject, what’s your opinion of Not Your Shield? (https://ggwiki.deepfreeze.it/index.php?title=Not_Your_Shield) Or GG wiki in general? (https://ggwiki.deepfreeze.it/index.php?title=Main_Page)
Personally, I see GamerGate as reporters trying to push back on a small group of people (trolls and other online assholes), who they saw as the “gamer” stereotype, and offending a lot of people who were very much a completely separate group. Then failing to identify the distinction.
“As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been a giant lashback at being a sportsperson, but we have seen it for gamers.”
Yes, being physically fit is, and always has, been popular, but there’s also the association between the big, burly buff guy, and picking on the smarter intellectual.
And, yes, there’s been lashbacks against gamers… like Night Trap. (https://screenrant.com/night-trap-game-esrb-rating-creation-1990s/) Play Night Trap. It’s insanely mild. Oh, or Dark Dungeons. (https://darkdungeonsthemovie.tumblr.com/post/79938568880/faq-about-dark-dungeons-the-movie) Or just generally the “tabletop RPGs are the devil”. Or “Pokemon and satanism” (https://filmschoolrejects.com/pokemon-satanic-panic/). My point is, much of the lashback is pretty stupid, and we shouldn’t immediately believe they have a point.
“I’m a bit unsure by your point on Skyrim Grandma. I was using her as an example of the older demographic playing video games, not so much for the game itself. Could you please elaborate on that part?”
Just a simple “yes but”. I think I got more into devaluing it’s importance than seeing a need to argue it. It’s true, but it doesn’t undermine the term “gamer”, it just exposes the shallowness of the stereotype.
“I understand that you may think only the foolish believe in the stereotype, but that stereotype has and does exist, it has done harm (in my opinion) to the video game industry and we are seeing the effects of it still.”
And I feel that the stereotype can only be pushed back against with honesty and truth, not with trying to change the term itself. It’s people’s understanding, not the label. The label is simple, easily understood, and functional. People’s understanding, however, changes with the times. What was once looked down upon becomes widely accepted.
In short, “gamers” are very much a real thing. The stereotype, however, is not. And the average person needs to align their thinking with the truth, not for gamers to abandon ship and pretend to be something new. (If I was going further, I’m sure there’s plenty of evidence on that simply smearing the stereotype into the new term, not changing anything.
Here’s a really interesting paper I found breaking down a few different articles. I don’t think it’s immediately relevant, but interesting reading. Some cases are very much contradictory. (Males and Females spend more time playing… than each other. Different papers came to that conclusion, obviously.)
I think that’s everything, but I haven’t given it another read over.
I want to start by saying I still think for a large part we are arguing the same point just with different words, but I’ll address a few things you raise first.
Yeah I can see that point. I guess it doesn’t instinctively occur to me because I don’t hear it as much. And I think it does come down to the specific phrasing of it. In the example you gave you have a footy player, which is someone activitively involved in sport but a shooter fan which doesn’t have that same connection. I know that it was just you’re typing out a response and I am reading very heavily into it, but that initial articulation from you does highlight that we treat it differently. And in response to that itself, I know you could say a shooter player or something similar, but right now trying to think of a way to phrase it that involves active engagement by the person, I’m not coming up with something that sounds right. Curious if you have any ideas.
So I will admit I’m a bit lost with the game breakdown section, but I’m assuming you are looking at the gender representations in the games that how low female play?
So for Grand Strategy they looked at Europa Universalis IV, Crusader Kings II, Stellaris. On the Stellais homepage, the only characters I ever saw were undetermined aliens. Crusader Kings II did have a female leader in the back of the main image and Europa has Queen Victora in one of the expansion packs advertised on the main page but the first main image was of four men. The male heavy aspect makes a lot of sense in these games due to history and leaders being male heavy.
In the FPS games of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Battlefield 4, Halo 5: Guardians, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, COD had an armoued man on the page, Battlefield 4 showed only men, but did have a woman in the ad for Battlefied 5, Halo had fully suited people, Counter-Strike had some, mostly in relation to an expansion which I looked into, and in the skins for those characters, there were 13 male, 4 female and 3 unidintified on their website. And of course TF2 is a full male roster.
The racing games were all ones where you are just in a car and the three sports games chosen were all of male league sports.
So for the lower section of the table, we have games that are dominated by male characters where characters exist (purely looking at this study).
As for MMOs, to me that make sense. These games operate on such a large scale that players are able to seek out like minded people and find those who they can identify with. Same with the RPS. The Western ones (Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.) four out of the five you can have a big degree of customisation over how you look and the gender you play. Japanese (Fire Emblem Fates, Bravely Default (series), Tales of Zestiria, Pokemon Sun and Moon.) three out of four have gender options.
I think this is the point you were trying to make but please let me know if I have misunderstood.
I like the idea of NotYourShield but as to how much I believe it was authentic I don’t know. I always try to remind myself when thinking about this that one, I am just a single voice and two, I am a white cis straight guy. And I think there are voices that often get silenced and something like this can really help to raise it up. Do I also believe some of those voices came from fake accounts due to the actions of 4chan and 8chan, absolutely. As for the GamerGate wiki, I’m not a fan. My understanding of wikis is that you want to try and convey information in a neutral manner, presenting the facts of that situation. You can have different opinions but not have them attack. Yet on one of their featured articles I found this “Thanks to Kotaku being it’s usual corrupt, colluding, self-serving self” which really just tells me this is going to be very biased. Yes there is bias in all things, but that really just tells me I can’t take it seriously.
Another part that I don’t like about GamerGate, is that in what I have witnessed and experienced, one side wants to look at a changing industry and the otherside wants to attack the individual. For instance, Anita Sarkeesian who was one of the biggest people caught up in it. Now, I have watched a number of her videos that caused such high emotions. I found some of it to be truthful and enlightening, other parts I disagreed with and felt she was misrepresenting. But there was no way to engage in that sort of discussion because of the extreme level of anger that she was saying the video games were sexist. Did the anger comes from extremeists? Of course and I know that extremisim can exist on both side. But I try to look at the intentions and I don’t understand why we can’t work towards making something more inclusion? Change can be good.
Okay yes there is the jock stereotype in films and tv shows where we often seem them as bullies, but in the real world I would argue it isn’t really there. A lot of societies come around and lift sportspeople up. Yes we are starting to see the shift in gaming now on that front with esports picking up, but the amount of gaming scholarships to get to good schools, the pay that the sportspeople get and the way society treats them as idols can trickle down to make the hobby much more acceptable.
Okay now I am getting to the section where I really think you and I are saying the same thing. I raised up the idea of Skyrim Grandma specifically to show how the stereotype is shallow. It is the same reason why early in the paper I talk about how the people who are actually playing games absolutely does not fit the stereotype of what South Park did in 2006. The point that I am trying to make in this paper is that people who play videos games are all completely different. All walks of life come together to play a game, but Joe Average watching the news and being told the video games corrupts people will start thinking that video game players are bad. Then going into the office the next day shares these views and the people who play video games might realise that it can suck to be associated with all of this. Did I get hyperbolic in my writing? Absolutely, that is just me as a writer. But I am not asking those who players games to jump ship or to change who they are.
And the end of my paper I proposed two separate ideas. One was following what Kowert propsoed and that was reforming the image of the gamer and the other one came out of the fact I had a funny title for my paper and wanted to finish it off that way. I believe in both options, but my main point is that the stereotype has done harm to the gamer identity. I truly think we are saying the same thing, but just coming from two different perspectives of being on the inside of the gamer identifier and the outside.
Hope this all makes sense, also haven’t given it a second read over.
I really, genuinely enjoyed your paper! You give such great explanations of the issues you dissect here, which I really appreciated as a reader, because I wasn’t aware of a lot of them. This paired with the examples you disperse throughout the piece, such as the South Park example at the start, made your piece so compelling and engaging!
It was particularly interesting to see how you broke down what is considered to be the ‘stereotypical gamer’, because subconsciously, I think I held this view too, despite knowing that it was far from the reality of the majority gamers, including myself. This meant that I was never really comfortable telling people that I played games, and never did I consider myself to be a ‘gamer’, because I didn’t fit the stereotypical image in my head. It made me feel like an outsider and ashamed that I couldn’t fully commit to this aspect of my life because I was scared that I wouldn’t be accepted. This internal battle ‘minorities’ (I say this in quotations, because as you’ve discussed, these numbers are significantly changing from traditional perceptions) in the gaming world go through in search of acceptance from a term that’s just not very inclusive, I believe is all the more reason for there to be a ‘rebranding’ of sorts, like you suggest.
I also loved how you phrased this, that “we are not just discussing what it means to be a gamer, we are discussing what it means to be a man and masculinity”. In regard to the Gamer-gate movement, it’s fascinating to see the fragility of those who so desperately held onto that identity, in fear that if the term broadened its meaning, they would lose their own sense of self, even outside of gaming. To be so dependent on a term for stability, and as a sense of comfort in a way, sets the individual up for discontent as the term gradually evolves from away from its narrow origin, as most labels do.
Your example of Grandma Shirley made me think of Grandma Audrey (Hubans, 2019), another elderly person that enjoys playing games. It’s funny that so many people get enjoyment out of seeing an older person play games, because it breaks this stereotype that I think many of us subconsciously hold. It shows that we actually do want to see the meaning associated with this label widened, and not gatekept by those it currently prioritises.
Again, such a pleasure to read! Thank you!
My paper is also within the identity stream, but I look at what happens to our online self when we die in ‘real life’, do check it out! https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/when-are-we-truly-dead-online-the-complexities-of-finalising-death-in-the-online-context/
Hubans, P. [phuban]. (2019, January 13). 87-Year-Old Grandma Shows Her 3500+ Hour Animal Crossing Town [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/Uwimf72h5qA
I’m glad that you enjoyed the paper! I felt that finally having an assignment not be an essay I could be a bit more colourful with my language.
It is really interesting the way that the stereotype has been held onto the general consciousness. There is a whole other paper in the way that the media and other outside factors have helped to reinforce this idea of what a gamer is. But it is a very strong image that people hold onto. I am also another person that even before these serious conversations were happening around being a gamer were happeing, I didnt find myself comfortable in giving that identity to myself.
It is surprising when I really think about how much the GamerGate movement and the whole idea of being a gamer became so removed from the actual games. Everything got so heated and intense that it just completely shifted and twisted things. And really, we are a number of years on and what did it all actually achieve?
Grandma Audrey is so cool! And what a commitment to a game!
So when it comes to games, do you think that now having a better grasp on just how diverse the player field is that you would be more comfortable calling yourself a gamer or do you think that there still needs to me more time done and a better rebranding/diversification of labels for when it comes to people who play games?
Hi again, thanks for the response!
About the GamerGate movement, it makes sense for things to become so heated and disconnected from games because people have intertwined their identity into it so much. I mean, even gaming in itself is more than just the game on the screen, it’s the set-up, the monitors, the chair, all the physical items that are in your ‘real life’ and maybe even in the same room as where you sleep. I don’t think it’s unexpected for something this intimate to take up not only a fair portion of your time, but your identity too.
This label then takes on new meaning to the individual, and acts as a vessel for their more deeply ingrained beliefs and prejudice. So, when someone tries to change the meaning of that term, if it no longer aligns with how that person was using it, especially after they had dedicated so much of their time and identity to it, I think naturally it would turn into a debate beyond just gaming. But in saying that, I agree with you, what really did it achieve, other than showing the complexity and fragility of identity?
In terms of calling myself a gamer, I don’t think I’m quite there yet. It’s still quite a significant mental block to overcome and relearn what it means to me, not to society, to be a gamer. I think as a general term, gamer is an appropriate label because ultimately that’s what you are if you play games. But as with most things that are plagued by stereotypes, the best thing for it is education. Providing realistic gamers and game culture better exposure in the mainstream media could potentially alter this perception, which I think we are on route to achieving. Being a gamer can mean different things to each individual, as long as there is not one narrow stereotype that is being enforced onto everyone else.
I quite enjoyed your paper as it covers all the points I would expect to be covered when discussing the identity of a ‘gamer’ in a clear and concise argument. I was also personally drawn to your paper as the ‘gamer’ identity could be used to describe both myself and many of my close friends although we would all be reluctant to use the label ourselves.
In particlar I found your discussion regarding GamerGate interesting as I would argue that this event was core to many individuals such as myself begining to dislike and avoid the ‘gamer’ identity due to many of the negative connotations that have been linked to said identity.
I also liked your explanation of the fish idea and agree that the ‘gamer’ identity has became outdated leaving me intrested to see how as you have outlined different monikers will potentially arise to better represent the vast range of individuals who play video games.
I’m glad you liked the paper!
I am curious if you and your friends have ever had any conversations about being gamers or purposefully rejecting the identity? I know that when I was younger I had friends who would definitely think of themselves as gamers, however I moved across the country and fell out of touch and never really found myself in a crowd of people who regularly play games again, so I am just curious whether all the changes that started to happen brought any real life discussions or if it was just an implicit and unspoken change.
Thanks for the reply, the converesation has come up a few times usually surrounding a reemergence of the topic within online communities such as ‘Twitter’. It is a consensus among us that we have rejected using the identity because it’s primary interpretations and connected connotations are overwhelmingly negative and often inaccurate to the reality of the majority of ‘gamers’ as you have outlined in your paper. Therefore while we all do see ourselves fitting to some degree we dont feel as though the indentity is representative of those who often fall within it.
Yeah Twitter is such an interesting beast when it comes to games, especially when you look at it was really kicked off in a big way by a single tweet from a somewhat recognisable actor.
If you’re talking about Adam Baldwin; he didn’t kick off GamerGate, he just coined a name that stuck.
He didn’t start GamerGate but he definitely helped to boost it into the public conversation.
Thanks for such an informative and interesting paper Thomas. I really enjoyed it!
I have no background in gaming, so I thought I would dip my toe in and learn more about it. I now know what a ‘griefer’ is! And am totally flabbergasted that 42% of people over 65 play video games!
I’ve never considered the ‘identity’ of gamers. I am frustrated to learn that gamers haven’t avoided the habit of humans to stereotype others, particularly those that they have little contact with and thus no knowledge of them. Do you think the stereotype drove the types of people who became gamers because that is who the industry marketed to initially, or did the early game creators also fit into this demographic or something else? Considering that consumerism is all about the bottom line and that gaming is enjoyed by all sorts of people, why do you think the image of the stereotype ‘holds strong’? Is it the type of games (the masculine warfare, hunting and roleplay) that perpetuate this stereotype? If so, how does that affect the market? Indeed, they would make more money if they marketed to the broader community of gamers. Or, from your perspective, do you think the industry is fearful that if the culture of gaming changes into a more inclusive community, it will lose some of its pull for the young men that identify with it now? Gamergate would appear to indicate the latter.
I wonder if I was put off by the stereotype of what gaming was all about. As a feminist, a woman and someone who is not afraid to speak up against injustice, segregation or discrimination, maybe I knew the gaming community wasn’t for me. It is good to know that these times are changing, or communities form from splinters off the traditional gaming community. I’m not really into violence, shooting animals or degrading representations of women, but ‘pink games’ wouldn’t appeal to me either. To engage someone like me, game creators need to be more diverse and market a wider variety of games, which you point out is occurring. So hopefully, when I am 85, and I need gaming to keep my synapses firing and also to keep in touch with my fellow over 80s possie, there will be something there for me!
Excellent paper, well done!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I actually had a response for you last night, but my computer died and for some reason it didn’t post and then I was just so annoyed that I had to leave it, but new day, new comment attempt!
Honestly, I was also surprised at just how big of a percentage of the older population are playing games. I knew that people were out there, we even have stories in this comment thread of older generations playing the games, but to know so much was really cool.
I definitely think a big component of it was because we have the core market that started who have since grown up and gone on to make games of their own. So we start to create this bubble of experience and so people think that they are representative of what the gaming market is. And then definitely from that, that market still exists and we can see that in all the Call of Duty and other war games games that come out, but just dont seem ready to let it expand.
I think another part that I just did not have the space to discuss in this paper is that it works very well for the media to accept this identity of the gamer as a fact. Despite the fact it has been disproven so many times, they love to say that video games are responsible for rises in violence and other negative behaviour seen in the community.
Hopefully once GamerGate becomes this thing that people think they remember hearing of, the fear that people have from getting involved with games will lessen a lot more and we can start to get some proper representation out in the real world.
Thanks for your reply, especially since you had to do it twice!
Having the media blame video games on rises of violence or other negative behaviour is an interesting idea. I’d hate to think that forms of entertainment are influencing kids to become more violent and I’d need to see evidence of peer reviewed research before I would 100% agree with the assertion.
But just going on logic, if kids are playing violent games, day in day out, where they are e.g. blowing up each other, or running over people, and the games are becoming even more realistic and immersive, there may be some desensitisation to violence. Desensitisation can happen in other areas of human activity e.g. slaughtering animals, the medical field or in war zones etc. It isn’t a given that they will go out and act the same way in real life, but I wonder if there is a correlation between those kids that do act out and the particular games they play. And further to this, is it that violent kids are attracted to violent games or is it the games that are making them violent?
If GamerGate was successful in bringing change in the types of games available, this would see changes in audiences and would also produce interesting data for further research, as we could study pre and post GamerGate gamer attitudes and behaviour.
I am not sure if there has been much done in the way of pre and post GamerGate studies, but I do know there has been a lot spoken about when it comes to video games and violence.
There are many different sides to the debate. You have people like Anderson et al. (2010) who argue that there is a connection between violence and video games. But on the other hand, there is Ferguson et al. (2008) who says there is no link. I think it is more important to look at works by people like Greitemeyer & Mügge (2014) who on the outset take a more nuaunced approach of saying that yes, there is a link, but it is definitely not as simple as that. There are so many different elements that come into play when it comes to this link, but because the wider mass media has access to a stereotype and a very scary headline, it realy does not help the situation to have a proper conversation. It insteads tries to paint video games as guilty and forces it to prove its innocence.
But also important in that conversation I would argue is the wider media market and not limiting studies to just games. Anderson et al. (2010) says “It is true that as a player you are “not just moving your hand on a joystick” but are indeed interacting “with the game psychologically and emotionally.”” (p.171) but this is an experience happening in a world where it is very easy to stream a violent movie or television show, war is often on the news and some countries experience vast levels of violence. I do not say this to try and shift the blame away from what role video games have in that conversation, but it becomes more of a societal role in how we treat violence.
And all of this coming back to the identity of the gamer, it is a lot of pressure to have on an individual I think, with some people thinking that you could be perputating cycles of violence and others not wanting you in the community or having to prove that you belong, being a gamer has the potential to be quite exhausting before even starting a game.
Anderson, C. A. , Shibuya, A. , Ihori, N. , Swing, E. L. , Bushman, B. J. , Sakamoto, A. , Rothstein, H. R. & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151–173.
Ferguson, C. J., Rueda, S. M., Cruz, A. M., Ferguson, D. E., Fritz, S., & Smith, S. M. (2008). Violent video games and aggression: Causal relationship or byproduct of family violence and intrinsic violence motivation. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(3), 311-332.
Greitemeyer, T., & Mügge, D. O. (2014). Video Games Do Affect Social Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Effects of Violent and Prosocial Video Game Play. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(5), 578–589.
Thanks for your reply.
It’s interesting, and may or may not be relevant, that the 2 papers that see a link between gaming and violent behaviour are from the field of psychology and the one that sees no link is from a criminological perspective.
I can see what you are saying about the media wanting to stereotype and blame gaming for increased levels of violence in society because it sells news. Gamers wouldn’t be the first group of people to get this kind of treatment. It’s great that there is debate about it, so that those who feel disenfranchised by the media, society or other gamers have a voice and can seek change to adapt what a gamer ‘looks like’.
Identity is important, and I suppose that there is a broader conversation to be had about who shapes our identity. Do you think others shape how we feel or see ourselves, or do we have some agency in how we view ourselves? I might be being too simplistic here, but for me, it is more important to shape how you view ourselves, and identify how you want to identify and not worry about what others think. Not worrying about what others think about us, or how they label us, is something that we as a society need to do more work on. I think that we need to work on our own self-empowerment at the same time as tackling those who stereotype, judge and bully others.
So if someone isn’t happy to be called a ‘gamer’ anymore, but continues to play games, purchase them, and be a member of the community, then what a gamer ‘is’ to the market evolves into something else. Or on the other hand, if someone who doesn’t fit the current stereotype calls themselves a gamer, they will also dilute the stereotype. After a while stereotypes will become redundant because they are obviously false. And the market will have to come to the party because they will lose money if they aren’t giving consumers what they want.
I think it is a combination of both. We definitely have our own agency in how we view ourselves and the way that we interact with the world, but in choosing an identity, it is also a way that you wantto be viewed by others. So in discussing being a gamer, it is a name that you can give yourself and use as a way to think of yourself, but you choose it based on your own actions and how you interact with the world. In saying that, I am sure there are people who could happily think of themselves as gamers and not express that choice to anyone else, but in being part of your own identity, I believe there is some element of engaging that identity with other people.
The last part of your paragraph is what I am hopeful about for the future of the gamer identity. We are seeing so many new and inventive games coming out that are bringing new people on board and as the stats shows, games are being played by a huge diversity of people. But whether this group of people will embrace the idea of being a gamer or the stereotype will continue to exist longer, I truly don’t know. I am hopeful that people recognise more around them as playing games and can feel more comfortable with the idea of being a gamer, time will tell.
I loved this paper! Your closing argument where you mentioned “there is no such thing as a fish” is a perfect representation of the gaming industry and something I have thought about many times. When I was growing up playing games it was definitely a predominately male hobby, with games played by girls definitely falling into the “pink games” category however, over the years of me playing games to now where I would definitely class myself as a “casual gamer” opposed to the “hardcore” gamer I would have previously aligned myself with shows just how diverse the industry has become. My friends who I would call “gamers” are a diverse group of people ranging from guys who work out 5 days a week, girls who have gaming setups that would put my “setup” to shame, my dad who at 48 would smoke me in most current games and my grandparents who now have a xbox setup in their living room to play world war games.
It would be redundant to call yourself a “movie watcher” as that gives little to no indication of what movies you are interested in and I believe that is where the gaming industry is at currently, whether the industry itself wants to admit it or not. The gaming industry is definitely experiencing an identity crisis that is hindering itself for no reason. Games are played by everyone and presenting this facade of gamers in marketing content not only under represents the market but also slows the growth potential of new games. Why pretend no female plays Call of Duty or League of Legends when that is just not true?
The most disheartening thing I see is the questioning of ones self due to this focus on white, heterosexual-males in marketing and industry representation. Whenever my granddad talks to me about playing video games he prefaces it with statements like “I know that I’m not the best” or “I know these games aren’t meant for me” and I’m always sad that he assumes I would have a negative view of his ability or interest in playing games – which further reinforces this idea that I am apart of the only group who deserves to play games (especially games labelled as “hardcore”). There seems to be a real disconnect between gamers and the industry, with even the industry’s target market not understanding this representation. My dad will constantly tell me about the people he played with online, telling me how shocked he was at how accepting random strangers are of him playing online with them. As if he should expect to be ridiculed for not being the false status quo the industry wants you to believe exists.
It is great to see papers on gaming and to see the commonality in topics being discussed around gaming, it really shows how fed up everyone is with the associations the gaming industry has tried to instil on the market. I will definitely be recommending this and papers like this to friends and family to show that the opinions they believe people have of them is in fact not the case and that this industry presentation of gaming is one that the majority of users hopes to change.
First of all, hell yeah grandparents playing video games!
And I’m glad that you enjoyed the paper and thank you for giving it a read. It really is interesting when you see the actual stats of people who are playing these games that we seem determined as a society to hold this image of what a person is who plays video games. I think personally the most astounding part is that the video game industry is one of the biggest in entertainment worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
And it is very much like you say, this identity puts other people off when they are the ones who could quite easily be labelled as gamers.
I hope that all of your family members continue to play games and feel confident knowing they are the common gamer and should be there.
I’m curious if you don’t mind sharing, do you have many people around you that classify themselves as gamers? What about your dad and grandparents? Do they have much of an idendity with games?
Great paper, it really provided a good overview of this issue. It raises some thoughts for me, and I’d be keen to hear what you think about this.
This issue, and your paper, highlights to me that a problem can arise when someone identifies with a term. In this case ‘gamer’, a term, like any, that is subject to cultural perceptions and usages and ultimately can change to those influences. It shows that when someone wholly identifies with a term, to the point that when cultural perceptions of that term start to change (which I think is a natural process, especially with videogames being an activity and artform that is constantly evolving and is itself quite young) that they lose a sense of themselves, or at least feel threatened that they will—is that then, representative of a dissonance between culture and a person’s identity?
Hope that makes some sense 🙂
Personally, while I do play games, I wouldn’t identify myself as a gamer. Anybody that wishes to describe themselves as a gamer should feel the freedom to do so, and the term should stand to be as all-encompassing as possible. I’ve always seen gaming as such an inclusive hobby, and it is sad to see that some people are threatened by this. More games, that explore the artform and the representations they convey is a good thing to be celebrated.
Cheers again for the thought-provoking paper,
Thanks for giving it a read!
Yeah I get what you’re saying. I think especially with a lot of the roleplaying games and the MMOs where people can really live out a whole other existence, it can become really easy for people to divest themselves into another life and it becomes really real. It goes further when you look to games like Eve Online where the games has such impacts that stuides and books have be written about the actions that happen in the game.
I definitely think there has been like a reaction to GamerGate in that people are trying to be more welcoming knowing that it’s important not to let GamerGate be representative of all gamers.
I didn’t really have the space or time to get into it, but I also don’t identify as a gamer but because internally I have the belief that to be a gamer you need to have a level of gaming ability, of which I can safely say I am not that great at video games, but I do enjoy them.
Thanks again for reading and glad that you got something out of it.
I Am a gamer and this title really interested me. I really like this paper as it brings perspectives to me and makes me realize so many things.
Really enjoyed it!
I’m glad that you were able to enjoy the paper and that it had led you to some new ideas!
Your paper immediately caught my attention since I am a gamer myself. Firstly, I am glad you mentioned Grandma Shirley as she is a great example of how the gamer identity has changed. This paper was super interesting to read. It is frustrating to see that people assume how a gamer looks like in real life and what kind of lifestyle they have. As a girl gamer, as well, I can be discriminated against. I could be playing a game like COD Warzone and the moment they realize am a girl they assume I’m bad at it or that I don’t belong on that game. Well, I’m not a professional but I’m not bad either. Also, I don’t understand why the pink games is a thing since they never got my attention. Moreover, the oversexualization of female characters is seriously unnecessary. What does that have to do with the story or gameplay? I just want to have armor that is effective and realistic like the male characters. We just all want to play games, have fun and make friends. I hope one day this whole stereotype would fully go away. Great job on the paper!
Grandma Shirley is the best. I stopped writing for a while working on this paper because I got caught up watching her videos.
I’m glad you enjoyed the paper and thank you for reading it!
Yeah I have seen it a lot when playing games online, you can see the shift in some players once they realise there is a girl who is playing and while some people are cool, others just get really weird.
Yeah it is unfortuante that so much of the gaming industry has been about treating the female gender almost as this aloof thing that gamer designers and marketers cannot understand, yet if they just brought in more female voices behind the scenes, it never would have been this big of a problem.
>”Grandma Shirley as she is a great example of how the gamer identity has changed. ”
Except she isn’t, she’s just an old gamer.
>”It is frustrating to see that people assume how a gamer looks like in real life and what kind of lifestyle they have.”
Everyone does that, not just with people who play games.
>” As a girl gamer, as well, I can be discriminated against. I could be playing a game like COD Warzone and the moment they realize am a girl they assume I’m bad at it or that I don’t belong on that game. ”
That’s, again, everyone, especially in a competitive environment. But at least you can receive ‘positive discrimination’ in the form of items and stuff from male players seeking your attention. You like to mention the negatives without mentioning the positives you get.
>”Also, I don’t understand why the pink games is a thing since they never got my attention. ”
I’ve heard ‘pink games’ mentioned once maybe back in 2016 in the form of a complaint, it’s not an actual thing. There are just games that women tend to prefer over others, match games and hidden object, for example.
>”Moreover, the oversexualization of female characters is seriously unnecessary. What does that have to do with the story or gameplay?”
Because “sexy” characters are great and is something almost everyone can get behind, women included. You might be on the sex negative side of things but there’s plenty of games that’ll fit your tastes as well. Also, in typical fashion , not mentioning the “sexualization” of male characters.
>”I just want to have armor that is effective and realistic like the male characters.”
First off, if you think the armor some of the male characters wear is realistic then you don’t realize just how heavy and cumbersome some of those armors can be, usually past the point of impossibility. You also have plenty of male characters going around shirtless, with something like a single piece of armor on one of their shoulders; no different than bikini armor some female characters have.
>”We just all want to play games, have fun and make friends. I hope one day this whole stereotype would fully go away. ”
Seems to me like you like to complain about and want to change games more than to just play them and have fun.
Well with Grandma Shirley, while she is an individual gamer, we are seeing a growing trend of older people getting involved in video games as seen in the report by IGEA that people over 65 are getting more involved in playing video games.
While it is true that there are stereotypes everywhere, I do not think that it diminishes the frustration that comes with it.
I am curious if you can explain more about your point on positive discrimination in games once someone is identified as being a girl? In my own experience I have seen both sides of positive and negative interactions, but I don’t know if I can recount any experience of a change in environment where men seeking the attention of a woman would give any gameplay benefit.
I am not sure about your point dismissing ‘pink games’ as there was definitely a trend of it. If you look in my paper under the section ‘The death of the gamer’ you can see that I touch on that trend of gaming, as well as further information through Dickey (2005), Eklund (2016, van Reijmersdal et al. (2013) and Jansz & Vosmeer (2009). I also wonder if you have any backing for the idea of women liking “match games and hidden object” more than others?
Do you have any backing for your comment, “Because “sexy” characters are great and is something almost everyone can get behind, women included.” Also very curious what examples of male sexualisation you are able to lead me to beacuse to my own understanding it is very limited in the gaming market. There are a number of paper out there which discuss the representations of genders in games and from what I have come across it leads more to women being sexualised (Beasley & Standley, 2009; Lancaster, 2004; Kondrat, 2015; Burgess et al., 2007). In recent years we are starting to see it shift away from this representation, but my paper was dealing with what is treated as the stereotype and so these are valid concerns for people to have.
“You also have plenty of male characters going around shirtless, with something like a single piece of armor on one of their shoulders; no different than bikini armor some female characters have.” Again I would be interested if you could refer me to these games with men being shirtless as I personally am not too familiar with any of them. But it is not a fair argument to equate a man being shirtless to a woman being in a bikini. Women has been far more sexualised than men have throughout history and society and seeing a man without a shirt is very different than seeing a woman in a bikini. For example, the character of Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. She is dressed in a bikini and some torn stockings effectively, yet counter part Big Boss is covered entirely in combat armour. Both soldiers on the same side yet completely different looks. And I understand the game has its own in-world justification through Quiet having some condition that causes her to breathe through her skin, but that is a very weak argument in my own opinion.
“Seems to me like you like to complain about and want to change games more than to just play them and have fun.” I think this is a very unfair comment. My paper is all about examining the identity of the gamer and Munika engaged with my paper from the beginning. You can still take part in something and be critical of it.
Now I am not sure when you commented on my paper as I didn’t realise I had some unapproved comments. I hope that you see this and have time to give a response before the conference is over. I would also be interested to hear from you in regards to my paper as a whole and hopefully can have a good discussion about our different viewpoints.
Beasley, B. & Standley, T.C. (2002) Shirts vs. skins: Clothing as an indicator of gender role stereoyping in video games. Mass Communication & Society, 5(3), 279-293. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327825MCS0503_3.
Burgess, M. C. R., Stermer, S. P., & Burgess, S. R. (2007). Sex, lies, and video games: The portrayal of male and female characters on video game covers. Sex Roles, 57(5-6), 419-433. http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1007/s11199-007-9250-0.
Dickey, M.D. (2005). Girl gamers: The controversy of girl games and the relevance of female-oriented game design for instructional design. British Journal of Education Technology, 37(5), 785-793. https://doi.org/ 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00561.x.
Eklund, L. (2016). Who are the casual gamers? Gender tropes and tokenism in game culture. In T. Leaver & M. Willson (Eds.), Social, Casual and Mobile Games: The Changing Gaming Landscape (pp. 15–30). Bloomsbury Academic. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/detail.action?docID=4355761.
Jansz. J, & Vosmeer, M. (2009). Girls as serious gamers: Pitalls and possibilities. In U. Ritterfeld, M. Cody, & P. Vorderer (eds.). Serious games: Mechanisms and effects (pp.236-248). Routledge, Taylor & Francis. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/detail.action?docID=448317.
Kondrat, X. (2015). Gender and video games: How is female gender generally represented in various genres of video games? Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, 6(1), 171-193. https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/gw?url=https://www-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/scholarly-journals/gender-video-games-how-is-female-generally/docview/1712852612/se-2?accountid=10382.
Lancaster, K. (2004). Lara Croft: The Ultimate Young Adventure Girl. Or the Unending Media Desire for Models, Sex, and Fantasy. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 26(3), 87-97. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3246480
van Reijmersdal, E.A., Jansz, J., Peters, O., & van Noort, G. (2013). Why girls go pink: Game character identification and game-players’ motivations. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29(6), 2640-2649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.06.046.
“For example, the character of Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. She is dressed in a bikini and some torn stockings effectively, yet counter part Big Boss is covered entirely in combat armour. Both soldiers on the same side yet completely different looks.”
As an aside, the MGS series has always had a pretty big female fanbase in Japan. The main protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 (Raiden) was deliberately designed and sexualized to appeal to women, as the director and character designer have explained in interviews. But at the time, the male fanbase in western countries complained that he was too “effeminate”, and they only wanted to play as Solid Snake (who was designed to be a male power fantasy).
The Final Fantasy series of RPGs has also built up a large fanbase of women and girls over the year, as it’s been no stranger to the sexualization of male cast members. The main party of FFXV is almost entirely made with women in mind, even though they’re all men. This is partially due to the fact that it eastern markets, a character’s gender is less relevant towards whether they appeal to men or women- and that’s resulted in a lot of games, franchises, and anime that have a mostly-female fanbase despite having all-male casts
Having looked at pictures from Raiden from the game (fan art aside) I don’t know if I would say that he was sexualised. Designed to appeal to women I could understand, but he is still completely covered in a uniform that seems to be all similar in colour tone. I guess an argument could be made that the crotch part of the outfit is slightly exaggerated and I have seen there is a mission that can be played where he is naked and holding his crotch. Then go to Quiet who is wearing clothes that are not practical for a soldier in any context and just makes no sense. I just watched some cut scenes on YouTube and in the first main one with her on a helicopter, there is a legit slowmo shot witht he camera staring at her breasts, close up.
This does make me think of a comparison I saw of Hugh Jackman on magazine covers during the Wolverine days. A Men’s Health had him super jacked and doing the Wolverine pose, looking all angry. But A Woman’s Weekly had his with a pleasant face, wearing a nice jumper and stuff. There are different ideas of what men and women supposedly want which I guess plays a big part in how a character can be sexualised, but I think it speaks to more that female characters are so often sexualised for their body but not men.
I also just went to the website for FFXV to see some of the character designs, and the closest I can see of a man getting sexualised is Gladiolus who is muscular and his shirt is unbottoned, but not really showing me. However also in the line up is a female mechanic in booty shorts, a bikini top and a small jumper not really covering anything.
What I am interested in is if there are games that treat the male body the same way that the female body is often treated, but not as a joke or satire or anything. Just pure sexualisation in the same vein that happens to female characters.
“Having looked at pictures from Raiden from the game (fan art aside) I don’t know if I would say that he was sexualised.”
No, he was definitely sexualized, according to his character designer. He has a swimmer’s body and a skin-tight suit that is designed to show off the contours of his muscles, and was also given a pretty gratuitous nude scene in the game:
“OK, next is Raiden. Mesh patterns. It says you can see through his underwear. His suit is really tight too.
Shinkawa: I wanted something sexy…even erotic. A very unisexual sexiness. “