The stereotype of a ‘gamer’ has long been the young man holed away in his bedroom, playing games in the dark for hours on end by himself. Yet, new research has found that we might be smashing the stereotype.
When I think of a ‘gamer’, I always think of people who consider gaming to be a hobby. Perhaps they might spend a few hours a week or more playing games, either on a PC or a specific games console. However, it may be time to revise the term, as casual gaming has taken off in a massive way across the UK.
The rise of casual gaming
So what is casual gaming? Put simply, it’s a term coined to explain the huge range of easy-to-pick-up games for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Ever heard of Angry Birds? It’s a great example of a casual game, designed to be accessible for people of any age and with any level of gaming experience. The gaming industry seems to be reacting to this trend by producing a string of highly addictive, easy-start games that you can spot on devices everywhere you look.
Apparently, the huge rise in popularity of casual gaming has also caused a similar shift in female gamers taking up the hobby. According to the BBC’s research, gaming could even be a female-dominated hobby by the end of 2013.
When polled, 75% of women said they felt that gaming no longer had anything to do with gender. But I have to wonder how much this dramatic increase in self-identified female gamers has to do with a shift in the stereotypical view of gamers in general.
Reassessing the ‘gamer’ stereotype
Personally, I’ve had to review my own application of the word ‘gamer’. Until today, I probably would’ve scoffed at anyone who labelled themselves a gamer on account of their playing Angry Birds while travelling to work. But why am I any more qualified to call myself a gamer, just because I prefer to play more complex, in-depth games on a PC or console?
I need to be less precious about the term, and instead embrace the increase in women who are identifying as gamers. I hope that this will also reduce the stigma attached to the hobby in general, and help women see their way into an industry that is almost entirely dominated by men. In fact, only 4% of games developers in theUKare women.
Do you think that the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other portable devices has increased the amount of time you spend playing games? Would you identify yourself as a ‘gamer’?