Editorial: Joe Q. Public Crits Gamers

The gamer.

Gamers get their own horror movie now! How fun!
Gamers get their own horror movie now! How fun!

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.

How is this any less well-adjusted than collecting sports memorabilia?
How is this any less well-adjusted than collecting sports memorabilia?

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.”

FOR THE strikeHORDE/strike ADVERTISERS!!!
FOR THE HORDE!!! er... ADVERTISERS!!!

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.

8 comments

  1. I know of one fat, 30s, depressed gamer in the Seattle-Tacoma area–indeed, the only person I know from that region. So, I declare the survey ACCURATE. I’m surprised there’s not a giant picture of a dragon somewhere. Maybe it’s just outside the picture’s angle of view.

    Also, re. the picture of the systems, where is the guy’s NGage? I mean, come on, no collection is complete without an NGage!

    And what, no Atari Lynx? Atari 5200? Atari 7800? Pong Console? TurboGrafx 16?

    I also note many of his systems are later releases. This is clearly just a collector who got into games later on after trying to compensate for his midlife I’m-a-furry crisis. Where’s his original NES and his original PS1? I still have mine. This fat, rich bastard has no excuse. Especially when he probably doesn’t have to buy his games at all.

  2. I have an original Ngage ROFL, and a grand total of one game, which I played for half an hour this one time …

  3. People do have a remarkable knack for being able to feel better about themselves by tearing other people down.

    Or I could be cynical and say that other forms of competing media simply want to shame us into putting down the game controller and picking up a tv remote, magazine, etc.

  4. Lol the mainstream music industry is dying a dog’s death, and games are taking a chunk out of the film industry also. I’m well happy about both.

  5. @SN I seriously cheer every time the RIAA or the MPAA suffer a setback, however minor. And sometimes, at my most conspiratorial, I suspect that videogame-based-movies are deliberately bad, in an effort to put people off games.

  6. It’s their own fault for making insipid standadized crap. Why waste your money on music or a movie when it’s essentially the same product they’ve been releasing for the last five years.

  7. Lane raises a question that is one of the recurring debates here, and that is what it ‘is’ to be a gamer.

    I think we probably all agree that occasionally playing Wii Sports Resort is not being a ‘gamer’, but I don’t think a ‘gamer’ has to be familiar with the vast history of gaming, either.

    Of course, then this brings up casual gamers and hardcore gamers and so on.

    At any rate, once we have some sort of gamer definition, the immediate result of this is to use it as a vehicle for exhortation, so maybe it is best to not have one after all.

  8. I think to be a gamer one has to refer to themselves as being a gamer, else they’re just dabbling.

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