Gamers? There’s no such thing.

“Gamers,” as a demographic group, exist in a different way than “readers” or “TV viewers.” Mostly that’s because everybody reads or watches TV to some extent, and it’s not terribly useful to talk about a section of the population if that section is the population.

Increasingly, though, the same thing is happening with gaming. BBC research indicates that 60% of people in the UK, of all ages, play video games. I’d say it’s safe to assume the proportion is similar in the rest of the post-industrial world. The proportion of youth identified as gamers is even higher than this, and they’re not stopping as they get older. So this proportion is going to go up.

It’s a sign of the maturity of the medium, and part of what’s driving it is that games can do more now. Not just action, not just adventure, not just pyew-pyew-pyew oh-look-at-the-body-parts blast’ems.

Ian Bogost has a good article on this in Edge:

When we acknowledge videogames as a medium, the notion of a monolithic games industry, which creates a few kinds of games for a few kinds of players, stops making any sense. As does the idea of a demographic category called “gamers” who are the ones who play these games.

The point is not whether games qualify as art or not. Nor whether games are useful tools or not.  Rather, the point is that there are lots of other things people can and do accomplish with videogames. Some are well-established, like entertainment, and some are emerging, like meditation. No matter, all of those uses taken together make the medium stronger and give it greater longevity.

2 thoughts on “Gamers? There’s no such thing.

  1. And yet, even with 60% of people in the UK playing video games, there are still many who believe video games are for kids, normally those of the older generation. But fortunately, there are some of the older generation who also play video games. And those who grew up playing video games, and still do, means the percentage rises as they keep playing and new players enter the statistics, but also when the ones who have grown up gaming, it will probably be an activity they share with their kids.

  2. I’ll definitely be playing video games with my kids. I already play regularly with my niece and nephew. It’s a great way to do something together and share a social experience – much more interactive, for instance, than watching TV or a movie together. It’s the future . . .

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