Is the “gamer” phrase alienating the minority audiences of games?

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It is not too long ago people identified themselves as gamers, fully knowing exactly what this word ment. The stereotypical gamer was a person who would spend ours on end playing games, and enjoying particularly difficult, brain-shattering challenges. (Juul, 2010) But more importantly: The gamer identity came with a community.
In resent years, however, with the rise of the app stores, smart phones, and the possibility to download and distribute games in a matter of minutes: Everyone is a gamer, from commuters to kids. So is the old “gamer” stereotype still relevant?

Why even identify with a label to begin with?

According to Pete Nuttall (2009), the consumption of content, brands and products, is one of the most common ways for adolescents to form their own idea of self. Nuttall has conducted interviews and research on this in regards to music, and the conclusion is, that being able to categorise yourself to be associated with likeminded people, and a widely known set of values, is indeed a basic need for the modern person.
By picking and choosing labels to wear, people can effectively communicate their selves to others, in order to create bonds and relations with minimal effort.

The major difference between music and games, is that the consumers of music has long since divided themselves into individual categories of the media they consume. This division has been met with plenty of commercial goods and brands, responding to a very specific image.
With games, however, the term is still broad and unspecific.
The closest gamers get to a categorisation currently, is being labelled either a hardcore gamer, or a casual gamer. A divide which is largely over-simplistic and vague. (Juul, 2010, Shaw, 2012)

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The Walking Dead, featuring characters of a much greater variety of races and ages than the average game.

Battling an old stereotype

Adrienne Shaw (2012) talks of this specific issue, where the producers of video games are still making games to fit an old-fashioned and outdated stereotype of gamer: The white, heterosexual, adolescent male.
This leaves minorities ignored, no matter if they do not fit the ideal market because of race, sexuality, gender, or age, and it has a significant effect on how these marginalised groups feel about not only the world “gamer”, but also the video games industry itself.

Conclusion

Forming an identity is incredibly important for functioning in a society and as part og a community.
Other media industries – such as with music – has successfully done this, but game producers are lacking behind, and this has a negative impact on how game audiences think and feel about the games they play.
In the near future, we will hopefully see more game studios recognise it’s marginalised audiences, and benefit from this new open-mindedness in return.

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BioWare’s Dragone Age franchise appealing to gay, lesbian, and bisexual audiences.

Bibliography:

Juul, Jesper (2010) A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games And Their Players. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nuttall, Pete (2009) “Insiders, regulars and tourists: Exploring selves and music consumption in adolescence”. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Issue 1, Issue 4. pp. 211 – 224. (July) University of Bath. Accessed February 17th, 2017.
Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.arts.idm.oclc.org/doi/10.1002/cb.286/full

Rougeau, Mike (2015) “How I realized My Dragon Age: Inquisition Character is Gay”. Kotako. (October) Accessed March 1st, 2017.
Available at: http://kotaku.com/how-i-realized-my-dragon-age-inquisition-character-is-1678673801

Shaw, Adrienne (2012) “Do you identify as a gamer? Gender, race, sexuality, and gamer identity.” New Media & Society, Issue 14, Issue 1. pp. 28 – 44. (February) University of Pittsburgh. Accessed February 17th, 2017.
Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444811410394

Images:

Every Eye (2013) “Recensione The Walking Dead – Il Videogioco” (January) Every Eye. Accessed March 1st, 2017.
Available at: http://www.everyeye.it/articoli/recensione-the-walking-dead-il-videogioco-18573.html

Outragezine (2015) “Gaming’s new Gay Characters look almost as real life” (July) Outragezine. Accessed March 1st, 2017.
Available at: http://www.outragezine.com/gamings-gay-characters-real-life/

Ludology:

BioWare (2014) Dragon Age: Inquisition Electronic Arts.

Telltale Games (2012) The Walking Dead Telltale Games.

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