EA’s Vice President of Brand, Ellie McCarthy, has recently stated that the term ‘gamer’ is outdated and no longer relevant in a recent interview. Her claim sparks a debate about why the term is rarely used, and whether it has lost all meaning.
Despite enjoying video games myself and keeping up with gaming news, I would not describe myself as a ‘gamer’. The term feels too much for a casual player like myself, and it also gives me the ‘ick’. When I think of a ‘gamer’, I think of a man, isolated in his room, playing games all day long – and I know I am not the only one.
McCarthy has said that the term gamer does not accurately represent people who enjoy video games, adding that “gaming is no longer a medium or an industry, it is simply ‘interactive’. You can now interact with almost everything through play-from an interest area.”
I agree with this statement – while most of us perceive gamers as console gamers, statistics prove otherwise. The biggest share of the gaming market revenue is generated through mobile gamers, while console gaming only generates a third of the revenue generated worldwide. These statistics demonstrate how common gaming is and how gaming does not only appeal to young adults. The most downloaded mobile games majorly target children, with games like Subway Surfers (1 billion downloads) and teens through Pokemon Go (1 billion downloads). While billions of people play video games, it is unlikely that most of them will describe themselves as gamers.
If billions of people play video games, is gaming a niche sector?
And are all of these people ‘gamers’ or are they simply interacting with a popular sector, as McCarthy claims? In my opinion, gaming is too commonplace for the need of the term ‘gamer’. People who engage with music, TV or art are not branded as ‘music-ers’ or ‘television-ers’.
The negative implications of the term also mean that many people do not identify as gamers. Despite 48% of women in the US report playing video games, only 6% identify as gamers, compared to 15% of men who identify as gamers. The connotations of the term ‘gamer’ with sexism and misogyny have resulted in female players not wanting to adopt the label. The hesitation for female players to use the term ‘gamer’ shows that it is no longer a representative and accurate term for people who engage with video games.
McCarthy concludes, “There are no best practice rules for how to engage with these niche, multifaceted, and passionate communities. Trying to target gamers is like saying you’re targeting people who like music or people who breathe in air.”
The complex nature of people who play video games, and the negative connotations of the term, mean that the label no longer holds much relevancy or accuracy
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