Computer gamers are a group of people sharing a common interest in computer gaming. They are composed of both adolescents and adults. Computer gaming goes beyond the barriers of age and gender, thus, gamers have been stereotyped into various characters. It is said that they have a culture of their own because of specific characteristics and behaviors they exhibit that typecasts them into specific stereotypes. Media depicts games and gamers negatively claiming these are causes of violent crimes and that users are not in touch with reality.
For its part, media has a lopsided view of what and who games and gamers are. Computer gamers are often depicted as young boys who do nothing but play computer and video games at home or in computer shops. Often, they are seen with their joysticks or any kind of game controller as they play with friends or complete strangers. They either engage in individual or multiplayer games. However, this school of thought is already changing as players of varying age groups and from both genders participate in computer gaming. Hartney (2012) revealed that the common notion is that American teenagers comprise the highest number of computer game players. However, studies reveal a different story in that among the perceived percentage of players, the 18 year old and below age group is comprised of only about 25% of the gamers. The same study exposed that “the average gamer is 35 years old, and that 67% of heads of U.S. households play video games” (Hartney, 2012). What may also be surprising is the fact that women are also immersing themselves well in computer games and that the number between male and female gamers is narrowing down. According to statistics, 49% of computer gamers are women and 51% are men (Lewis, 2013).
On the other hand, when games and gamers are reported on the news, they are often depicted negatively. Yee (2014) reported that one aspect of the story color gamers as children who become homicidal criminals because of violent video games. Wellings (2010) reiterated that the “position of the media is that video games are violent and playing video games may lead to violent behavior in ‘real life’” (p. 16). This was very much evident during the Sandy Hook shooting when people associated the brother of the real killer with the actual shooting simply because he was a computer gamer and liked a computer game called Mass Effect (Magnusson et al., 2014). However, reviewing the official Sandy Hook report revealed that Adam Lanza, the real killer, was not much of a guns and knives computer game player but rather preferred “Dance Dance Revolution, which he played for four to 10 hours” (Magnusson et al., 2014) at a time.
A similar thing occurred in the U.K. when newspapers blamed video games for the recurrence of rickets, a skeletal disease more popular during the 19th century. Now, media is “citing a study from Newcastle University claiming they found a correlation between rickets and gaming” (Magnusson et al., 2014). This is because computer games are mostly played indoors, minimizing the players access to natural sunlight. After establishing that there is no correlation between the two, Gamesbrief contacted the scientists who made the study and they found out the scientists never said there was a correlation between the two. Instead, in an attempt of play with words, media associated the scientists’ “condemnation of sunscreen, an appeal for people to get more sunlight, and a suggestion to feed children cod liver oil” (Magnusson et al., 2014). With that, media connected the importance of getting enough sunlight with computer gaming mostly played indoors as a cause of the recurrence of rickets.
Media has also depicted computer gaming as man’s detachment from reality (Magnusson et al., 2014), considering that with computer gaming, gamers play with relatively unknown individuals. Sometimes, they begin to develop relationships and fall in love. There is also the question as to why people would pay real money just to have access to virtual war gears. Although gamers play in virtual worlds, this is also a communications venue for millions of people assuming a different persona while at play and using various kinds of avatars. Magnusson et al. (2014) reasoned out that these virtual avatars are ways for people to live a second life away from the real life they maintain, such that “people who watch their doppelgangers exercise on a virtual treadmill are more likely to exercise, college students who interact with an aged digital version of themselves are more willing to save up for retirement” (Magnusson, et al., 2014). Thus, although “people” live in virtual worlds, it is their way of coping with life in general.
Computer gamers are a culture of their own. They defy what society calls normal in the sense that they have their own persona, style, and identity. They follow special decorum that identifies them unique from other individuals through their manner of speaking and their actions in public. These gamers are very knowledgeable when it comes to the goings-on in the computer gaming industry, including playing techniques, and gaming lingo. At other times, they imitate the attitudes and characteristics of computer game characters they play. While media believes that computer gaming is a male dominated industry, women are slowly making their presence felt as new members of gaming club. These distinctiveness may soon change as the computer gaming industry changes and regardless of what media dictates.
Hartney, E. (2012). Characteristics of addicted gamers. About.com. Retrieved from http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/videogamewho.htm
Lewis, H. (2013). Are computer games being taken over by women. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/10086627/Are-computer-games-being-taken-over-by-women.html
Magnusson, H., et al. (2014). 5 Ridiculous things the media blamed video games for. Cracked. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article_20927_5-ridiculous-things-media-blamed-video-games-for.html
Wellings, E.H. (2010). Negative stereotypes of online gamers and their communication consequences. Digital Library. Retrieved from https://digital.library.txstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10877/3284/fulltext.pdf?sequence=1
Yee, N. (2014). How the media consistently gets games wrong. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-yee/video-games-media_b_4572231.html