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Average Is What We’re Called, ‘Cause They Don’t Know Us

By J.P. "Agon Thalia" Sherman

The term “the average gamer” is one of those terms that gets thrown
around like a geek’s backpack before the school bell rings. However,
that term has always been a thorn in my mind. What is an “average”
gamer? Does an average gamer even exist? Does the term change meaning
or connotation when a politician uses it as opposed to a gamer? Lastly,
isn’t there something a little condescending about being called

The Average Gamer, From a Statistical View:

Personally, I like statistics, I live and die in a world of numbers,
figures, averages and trends. It’s what I do and I enjoy it. I’m much
more comfortable doing multi variable regressions than choosing a name
for my avatar. So, can we describe the average gamer through pure math?
Lets take a look at some of the figures.

• 60% of Americans play video games

• 47% of gamers are women

• 55% of gamers are between 25 and 44 years old.

• 70% of all video games are purchased by people over 40 years old.

• Gaming is a preferred activity over TV, movies, the internet and
sadly, books.

• 87% of console game purchasers are over 18 years old

• 97% of PC games purchases are over 18 years old.

• The average age of the MMORPG player is 26

• 25% of MMORPG players are teenagers

• 50% of MMORPG players have full time jobs

• 36% of MMORPG players are married

• 22% of them have children

These statistics were taken from studies from Jupiter Research and The
Daedalus Project. On the surface, it seems to suggest that the image of
the lone geek gamer… dateless, clueless and antisocial (a stereotype
that’s been with us for over 20 years now) is wrong. What’s interesting
is that while the gamers who were originally labeled with that
stereotype have grown up, the perception hasn’t. In fact, during my
research, some of the titles of the research projects seemed to convey
an element of surprise, there were titles like “Geeks and Gamers Grow
Up” and “Gamers End Up With Real Jobs”.

On The Outside Looking In:

There has been a lot of research about in groups, out groups and the
psychology that affects the behaviors between those groups. One of the
in group/ out group behaviors that affect all of us is the
characterization of gamers by non-gamers. These come in different

The Zealot:

Consider people like Jack Thompson, Bill O’Reiley or those politicians
that start blaming all of society’s ills on video games and the
violent, antisocial people who play them. O’Reiley went on a rant
recently and said:

“American society is changing for the worse because of the machines…
In the past to flee the real world people usually chose drugs or
alcohol… now you don’t have to do that, Now all you have to do is have
enough money to buy a machine…The newest thing is the PlayStation 3.
Now this is a machine that allows you to play games in hi-def and all
this other stuff… It’s the newest state of the art system from Sony….
It has a video game console, plays DVDs, connects you to the Internet,
tells you how handsome you are….So this is a big, big problem. It’s
going to change every single thing in this country…The have-nots are
growing. Why are they growing? Because the skill set that is necessary
to earn a decent living is being deemphasized in a fantasy world of
football games and shooting zombies and all that…. Now you have the
“knows” and the “know-nots”, because if you spend all your youth being
prisoners of machines….. you’re not going to know anything…. You’re
gonna fail…I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the
jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real
people over there.”

His basic premise is that gamers are going to be responsible for the
downfall of American society, because we’re all under the control of
the machines and letting the terrorists win… even though we regularly
beat the digital ones. This rant is not unlike the rants that were made
against paper novels, movies, rock music and other things that he just
doesn’t understand. The danger here is that he doesn’t differentiate
between the types of gamers, he doesn’t specify and he lumps us all
into a group of people that, in reality, don’t exist. You could apply
the same logic to baseball fanatics, movie fanatics or Tamagotchi
collectors. In the zealot’s world, there’s no average, there’s no
middle of the ground, there’s no grey area… there’s only binary, gamers
or non-gamers, good or bad. Fortunately, these people are often wrong
and their predictions are forgotten and society doesn’t collapse.

The Superior Person:

This person doesn’t care about games, they think they’re a waste of
time and they’re generally apathetic about video games. They’re
probably the most responsible for keeping the stereotype about the
lone, anti-social gamer alive. They warn their kids to not play so much
that they become “a gamer”. These are the people who have always seen
video games as a phase that kids enter and eventually grow out of. They
don’t know that the video game industry has grown to a multi-billion
dollar endeavor and employs some of the most creative and talented
people in entertainment today. In fact, the French government has
recently classified video games, or interactive entertainment, as an
official art form. Unfortunately, because the stereotype has stuck,
they still don’t see us as professionals, they still don’t see us as
productive, and they don’t see us as creative entrepreneurs. They see
us as kids, stuck in a habit that we should have left years ago.

Let’s Talk About Sects

When we’re talking about the average gamer, we separate ourselves in
our own in-out groups. We have powergamers, l33t dudes, casual gamers,
rp’ers, griefers, fanbois and kiddies. Each sect is a part of the
overall heading of “gamer”. We each have our own prejudices and
stereotypes for each of these gamers. All too often, I see Kinships
advertising “l33t dudes need not apply”. Because of the psychology
that’s passed through culture, it affects all of our behaviors. We have
to categorize, we have to stereotype and we have to classify “the
other”. Who cares and how does it affect you that I may have an
encyclopedic knowledge of Lord of the Rings. If I speak in l33t, does
that automatically mean that I’m not a sharp, educated person who likes
to blow off a little steam being fictitiously against the norm?

As gamers, we are just as guilty as those who criticize us. We have
just as many stereotypes about other gamers as those who look at us
from the outside have about us as a whole. The only difference is that
we ignore the broad term and focus on the more specific sects.

So, What Is an Average Gamer?

The average gamer doesn’t exist anywhere other than the statistical
calculations of those who try to measure us. Just as they try to look
at us as a whole, sometimes they’re trying to sell us stuff, other
times they’re trying to demonize us, and other times they’re trying to
just dismiss us, we continually avoid definition, we defy their
analysis and we are so much better and diverse than they could ever
capture mathematically. We are some of the best people on the planet,
and we are also some of the most disturbed. We are creative and
thoughtful and we are violent and petty. Personally, I resent being
reduced to an average, I hate being reduced to a set of behaviors… but
the minute I see someone in Bree shouting “I pwn joo”, I know that I
will shake my head and think, “freaking l33t dude”.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016