Outdated Stereotypes and the Diversification of the Gamer Identity in 2024

5 min read
Last updated: Apr 15, 2024

Since video games first emerged, the image of a “gamer” has been riddled with stereotypes: from socially awkward loners to basement-dwelling teen to trolls. While these stereotypes do exist in small quantities, the reality of the gaming community is totally different, and far more nuanced. As games have grown as a medium, so has the diversity of the community of people involved in both playing and creating games. Let’s take a look at what it means to be a gamer today, and shed some of those outdated labels and stereotypes which still get thrown onto games and gamers today.

Debunking The Stereotypes

Before we can break them, we must understand what they are. So let’s take a brief look at some common stereotypes, debunking them along the way.

Only Guys are Gamers

If you see any gaming stereotypes, especially from before the 2020s, chances are that they are of guys. This is because, for a long time, popular opinion saw gaming as a thing for boys and men. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Study after study have found that gaming appeals to both men and women, boys and girls to almost equal extents. One 2014 study found that approximately 52% of gamers were male while 48% were female—a number which has probably evened out further since then. This shatters the assumption that women can’t or don’t play games. They do. In fact, women are a vital part of the gaming community—both as players and creators.

Gamers are Lazy

A lot of media has portrayed gamers as lazy, unfocused and without future goals. While this is far harder to refute empirically, it’s easy to see that this simply is not the case for the majority of people who play games. That said, one 2014 study did suggest that gamers were actually more conventionally successful than non-gamers; being more likely to be full time employees in careers that they want to be in. Of course, such studies are hard to verify. But with an estimated 3.09 billion gamers on earth, it’s hard to believe that all, or even the majority of, gamers are lazy.

Violent Games Make Violent People

Oh boy, this was a huge debate back in the 80s, 90s and 2000s where increasingly violent games saw concerned parents, partners and others rally together to label violent video games as dangerous influences on gamers. However, since then many studies and court cases have suggested that video game violence has very little influence on making people violent in the real world. While playing ultra violent games underaged is still not allowed—thanks to age rating systems—let’s be honest, gamers aren’t stupid. They can tell the difference between violence against virtual avatars and violence in the real world.

Ultimately, these stereotypes and many others only reflect a serious minority of people who play games—if any at all. As games have become more accessible, more and more people have jumped into games to play, learn and socialise in everything from Pong to Fortnite. Building the community of gamers beyond the stereotypes which formerly occupied the public consciousness when it comes to “gamers”.

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Diversity at the Core

After shattering the stereotypes, it’s worth taking a look at who actually plays games… And the truth is; almost everyone! While creating statistics for these things is very difficult due to the grand scale of the medium, it’s clear that gaming is more diverse than ever.

From kids to teens to adults to the elderly, it seems that people of all ages play and enjoy games on a regular basis. According to Explodingtopics.com, most gamers today will be between 18-34 years old (1.17 billion). But there are still plenty of players at the extremes—with 618 million gamers under 18 and 216 million over 65. That’s almost 10% of gamers being over 65. I bet you didn’t expect that.

Looking at region, it’s also clear that people play games all around the world. Asia has the largest number of gamers—by far—at 1.48 billion. But it’s also worth noting that Asia is the continent with 60% of the world’s population; so it’s no wonder that they come in first. This is followed by Europe, Latin America, North America and then the rest of the world. This roughly aligns with global populations—apart from Africa being notably underrepresented.

In terms of identity, gaming has become a much more diverse and inclusive space over the past 10 years. With many gaming influencers coming from many different backgrounds, genders and identities. The accessibility of platforms like Twitch have helped to foreground new personalities and identities; allowing gamers to more easily find communities which resonate with them.

Embrace the Diversity

From our brief look at gamer statistics, it’s clear that gamers are everywhere—from every part of the globe, every age group, every background and every identity. And this is a wonderful thing. As gaming has become increasingly recognised as a space for diverse voices, expression and play, we have come to see a variety of exciting developments in the gaming industry. A trend which will only continue as we continue to embrace the diversity of the gaming community.

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