Monday, July 23, 2012

"You Don't Look Like A Gamer": Trying to Understand the Gamer Image

If only I got a dollar every time someone asked me "You play video games?"...

I know am not the only one that gets that sort of response when games casually come up in daily conversation. The question itself doesn't bother me; it's a good conversation starter if used innocently. But the suspicious tone or shocked face that sometimes accompanies that question is a whole different story.

That simple question makes me wonder what it really means to be a gamer...

It implies that the person on the receiving end could never know the first thing about gaming. Or that they shouldn't be interested in it to begin with. Assuming that the question is inspired by gender seems too close-minded; it is 2012 after all. But the video game market is dominated by and tailored to the male audience. And that doesn't seem like that's going to change any time soon.

So if someone asks if I play video games, I always try to smile and say yes in the most assertive tone possible. Shake the person's disbelief off with strong confidence. Some people leave it at that. Others might start a conversation about recent releases and personal favorites. But more often than not, the other person will say something I've heard time and time again: "You don't look like a gamer".
What does that even mean? What is a gamer supposed to look like?
Is looking like a gamer a bad thing? Should I be glad that I don't look like what I am?

The only time I got the nerve to ask a person to explain what they meant, they failed miserably. Their answer was unsure, probably because they didn't even know what they were talking about. This image is a stereotype that's so distorted that no one can quite understand it anymore.

That is, if people did once before.

What does a gamer look like?


  1. I think people tend to think of the word "gamer" as referring to someone who plays "hard-core" games like, I dunno, Halo? Call of Duty? Shooters in general? Games that girls like to play aren't typically thought of as "hard-core". Mario. Zelda. Pokemon. Wii Sports (or Play, Motion, Music, etc.). I also think these perceptions are narrow-minded, but what can we do?

  2. That's true. And when you really look at the market, many of the games directly aimed toward females are overtly feminine and meant for young audiences (like any Barbie game ever made, for example).

    When did games become "masculine"? I don't think games like Pong were gender stereotyped...

  3. I get a lot of, "YOU played WoW? You just don't seem like the type.."
    I usually counter this with, "Yep for almost 5 years. Why is that surprising?"
    Them: stutters/mumbles/no coherent answers.
    Me, "Yeah, just checking."
    If someone asked me what a gamer looked like I'd point at myself first, then at random people around me.

  4. Games directed towards females are not made often because of the bitching behind it. Some games are like cooking momma which are frowned upon because of furthering gender stereotypes but when the opposite is done, the new tomb raider for example, it is said to " promote violence against women". There is no winning with women when it comes to video games so companies dont make very many women related games. Sorry but this stuff is true. Sorry if i offended anyone :(


Questions? Concerns? Disagree with me completely? Think that video games and fashion is a horrible combination and that I should go back to my (non-existant) day job?

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