Video games offer players a remarkable amount of adventure, entertainment and challenge. Some are classic puzzle brain busters like Tetris and Candy Crush Saga, while others transport them to exotic places or far-off times with immersive graphics and impactful storytelling. In recent years, gaming has moved away from arcades and into personal consoles and computers with diverse online communities that make for a rich social experience as well. And while the word “gamer” may evoke an image of an eternally adolescent young man glued to his Xbox in someone’s basement, the fact is that gamers aren’t all that different from other people.
In fact, the average gamer is 33 years old, exploding the myth that video games are solely the purview of teenagers and kids. But it’s still easy for people to have preconceived notions about gamers. The term carries with it the stereotype of a lonely, anti-social young man who loves anything action-packed and maintains a gatekeeping behavior that excludes women and anyone who disagrees with their point of view. This stereotype is not only untrue, it’s damaging to the gaming industry and society as a whole.
Gamers are actually a highly diverse group of people with very different interests and personalities who all share a common love for video games. Some are professional gamers who play and compete for a living, while most of us simply play to enjoy our favorite pastime. Some of us even work in the gaming industry, either creating or playing games that we enjoy.
There are also some who use video games as a tool for enhancing their real-world skills. Neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, for instance, has conducted research that shows that certain elements of video games can help gamers learn to multitask more effectively and efficiently. She describes these helpful gaming elements as being similar to broccoli and chocolate: the broccoli is the helpful part, while the chocolate is the tasty context that helps us eat it.
The largest persona in the gaming community is the Mainstream gamer, who makes up 23% of the population. This gaming persona plays a variety of games and platforms, spending the majority of their time on casual games and free-to-play games like Fortnite and Candy Crush. This gamer also spends a lot of time consuming content and esports, but is not as invested in the community aspects of gaming as the Ultimate or Enthusiasts.
This persona is also likely to be working full-time, which limits the amount of time they can dedicate to gaming. They still consider it an important hobby, though, and are more willing to splurge on hardware and Day 1 releases than the other personas. They also tend to play a mix of genres and spend more time on MMORPGs than other gamers. They are also more likely to be male.