Fat, 35, depressed.
Or so says a study of 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Contrast that with the traditional stereotype of the gamer, a pale, basement-dwelling orc, scrawny and unfit for polite company.
Which stereotype is worse?
On the one hand, the new definition seems to be fat-phobic and insensitive to mental health issues and the escapism varying forms of entertainment can provide. The older, more pervasive stereotype, however, unfairly pigeonholes gamers as suffering from a lack of social skills, despite the fact that gamers often can and do form normal and healthy relationships with other like-minded people (like every other human on the face of the planet). Both are sexist and assume that gamers are nearly-universally male, despite strong evidence that the propensity for playing games extends across all genders.
Is it useful to try and find a statistic mean “type” of gamer? To what use could such data be put? Targeted marketing? That hardly seems necessary, as the general populace is hardly flocking to a hobby store to buy d20s and an elf costume. Sheer curiosity? The studies are all too general to satisfy curiosity in any meaningful way as to the median class of gamer.
What criteria allow one to be a “gamer?” Must one have a max-level World of Warcraft character? Understand what the term “saving throw” means? Have a gamerscore that makes one the envy of the local teens at Gamestop?
Why is the hobby of game-playing (especially the dreaded tabletop game) so universally reviled as anti-social, unhealthy (on many levels) and in general detrimental to the participants? What should gamers be spending their time doing, if not enjoying free time as they see fit, like everyone else?
Hazarding a guess, the reason games, and, by extension, gamers, are so unwelcome in broader society, painted with unflattering and unfair stereotypes, is that the hobby of gaming challenges accepted conventions of leisure time. The studies, the veiled insults, and so forth are a form of societal conditioning. They are a backhanded way of saying, “this is not an acceptable thing to be doing with one’s time.”
So, what lies at the bottom of the conditioning? To what other end are gamers being directed? Look at the conclusion of the study: gamers are not fit enough, gamers are not happy enough, and gamers are not young enough. What is an acceptable pastime for young children is not so for adults, who should be out dating, spending money on fancy furniture, cars and other luxury items, and consumer goods. Get a facelift or some liposuction: live it up now!
Unless it’s Mountain Dew. Then make sure to buy their latest game-branded soda.
No happy upshot at the end of this one, folks. It’s jaded, bitter cynicism all the way down.