The gamer stereotype. People who play video games – aptly dubbed “gamers” – are everywhere. Carefully hidden, of course, as they are experts when it comes to stealth. Gamers are actually just like you; although, unlike you, they might be hiding a Minecraft t-shirt under their day to day office attire. But, just like you, they’re waiting for their order at the coffee shop or looking busy in the cubicle across from you at work. Many of them don’t often announce to the world that they are gamers because when they do, they get weird looks and long silences, which makes the agonizing wait for their mochaccinos seem even longer and more awkward than usual.
If they’re otherwise just like everyone else, though: why the uncomfortable silences and public scrutiny? It’s quite simple – it’s the gamer stereotype.
What is the Gamer Stereotype?
The stereotype surrounding people who play video games is that they are most, if not all, of the following: lazy, overweight virgins with a peter pan complex who don’t work or contribute to society. They definitely don’t have girlfriends or any real-world friends for that matter – they only commune with “virtual” people. They don’t have families or children, they don’t go outside, and they are weird, anti-social hermits. And that’s being kind.
It’s no surprise therefore that gamers are, naturally, quiet about their hobby, especially when being asked directly about what they do in their spare time. It’s a tough question for gamers to answer, and they so wish they could respond with a casual: “I play basketball!” Or, cooler still: “I play guitar in a band!” Instead, gamers struggle to find a cool, hip way to simply say “I play hours upon hours of video games!”
Just to save you some time: there isn’t a cool, hip way to say that you play video games all day. Gamers around the world have already failed that quest – repeatedly.
The gamer stereotype operates in the same way that every other stereotype does: it’s a generalization concocted by the media that the public has adopted and maintained – for decades. Video games were initially created with children and teenagers in mind, not adults. But those kids grew up, and new games were released, new consoles came out, and those kids became adult gamers. No one planned it that way, but that’s what happened, and the general population believed that gamers would simply “grow out of it.” They didn’t.
The Nurtured Gamer Stereotype
The media plays a pretty big part in the Gamer Stereotype, broadcasting movies and television shows that depict gamers as losers and loners. They’re the smart kids, the physically weak kids, the kids that get bullied and shoved around. In the media, gamers are a pretty lame bunch. As adults, it’s even worse. Being labeled as an adult gamer is often considered downright pathetic. You certainly don’t get many ‘swipe-rights’ on Tinder broadcasting your gamer skills or your proficiency in leet speak.
And it’s a shame because gamers are frequently brushed off socially due to this stereotype. The truth is that video games, as well as the people who play them, actually have a lot to offer – even if socially, they may be a bit on the awkward side.
Against the Gamer Stereotype: Video Games Help Introverts “Extrovert”
Video games are also a great way for people who aren’t great in social situations, namely introverts, to expand their social skills.
Unbeknownst to non-gamer types, gaming in this day and age is actually a pretty social environment. There are hundreds of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) available that encourage teamwork and collaboration. This kind of scenario, paired with a convenient “log off” button, is ideal for a social introvert.
Introverts are, in the simplest form, people who find social situations emotionally draining and require alone time to “recharge their batteries,” so to speak. Since introverts are in complete control over their social environment when playing video games, they are in a position to socialize on their own terms. This is something that introverts yearn for and grow from, socially, and thanks to video games, they can find it in a cozy online world with other like-minded individuals.
Gamers are People, Too
Despite the evidence that proves otherwise, gamers are nonetheless plagued with what is, frankly, a dated stereotype. Lots of gamers do actually play sports or instruments – cool ones! Gamers have girlfriends and boyfriends, wives and husbands and even families. Some gamers are actually pretty cool people.
Thankfully, gamers are actively working to change this gamer stereotype – and not just by leaving their parents’ basements and having babies. In fact, some parents are even teaching their own children how to play video games. The benefits of playing video games generally outweigh the cons – gamers know this. If parents can take part in their children’s gaming hobby, they’ll discover that video games are a great way to teach kids about problem-solving and strategic thinking. They might even make some friends (both the kids and the parents).
Debunking the gamer stereotype has to start somewhere, after all. The younger generations can, under the right tutorage, help to alter this dated stereotype as they mature, and remind people that video games can actually make our world a better place – if we let them.