Historically, the term "gamer" usually referred to someone who played role-playing games or wargames. More recently, however, the term has grown to include players of video games. While the term nominally includes those who do not necessarily consider themselves to be gamers (i.e., casual gamers), it is commonly used to identify those who spend much of their leisure time playing or learning about different games.

There are many gamer communities around the world. Many of these take the form of web rings, discussion forums and other virtual communities, as well as college or university social clubs. Stores specializing in games often serve as a meeting place to organize groups of players . Prior to the emergence of the Internet, many play-by-mail games developed communities resembling those surrounding today's online games .

In October 2006, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) was established as the first non-profit membership organization formed to represent American computer and video game consumers. The ECA was formed, in part, in response to the seemingly imbalanced representation (e.g., the ESA, IGDA and others) of gaming in the United States Congress.

Types of gamers

Types of video gamers

In the United States, the average video game player is 35 and has been playing video games for 13 years. In the UK, the average video game player is over 23 years old, has played video games for over 10 years, and spends around 12.6 hours a week playing video games. However, the term "video gamer" is composed of many other subgroups of gamers:

  • Casual gamer: The casual gamer is a person who plays games designed for ease of gameplay (such as Tetris) and doesn't spend much time playing computer or console games. The genres that casual gamers play vary, and they might not own a specific video game console to play their games. See Casual game.
  • Hardcore gamer: A person who spends much of their leisure time playing games. As a consequence of the large amount of time spent, these gamers often become very proficient at playing games. There are many subtypes of hardcore gamers based on the style of game, gameplay preference, hardware platform, and other preferences.
  • Retrogamer: A gamer who enjoys playing or collecting vintage video games from earlier eras. Retrogamers are partly responsible for the popularity of console emulation. Some collect old video games and prototypes, or are in the business of refurbishing old games, particularly arcade cabinets. Some even make their own arcade cabinets (see MAME arcade).
  • Import gamer: A gamer who enjoys playing or collecting video games produced internationally. The most common imports are from Japan, although some European and Japanese gamers purchase games from North America. Depending on the gaming platform involved, these gamers may use devices such as modchips, boot disks, and/or Gamesharks to bypass regional lockout protection on the software, though some prefer to purchase imported consoles. A number of these gamers import games that fall into genres generally not released outside of Japan, such as dating sims or anime/manga-based licensed games.
  • Cyberathlete: A professional gamer (often abbreviated "pro gamer" or just "pro") that plays games for money. (The term electronic sports is used to describe the play of video games as a professional sport.) Whether a cyberathlete is a subtype of the hardcore gamer largely depends on the degree to which a cyberathlete is financially dependent upon the income derived from gaming. So far as a cyberathlete is financially dependent upon gaming, the time spent playing is no longer "leisure" time.

Gamer tag

A gamer tag, username, game name, or handle is a name (usually a pseudonym) adopted by a video gamer, used as a main preferred identification to the gaming community. Usage of user names is most prevalent in games with online multiplayer support, or at electronic sport conventions.

Similarly, a clan tag is a prefix or suffix added to a name to identify that the gamer is in a clan. Clans are groups of gamers brought together by a common interest, perhaps by all being fans of the same game, or merely gamers who have close personal ties to each other. A team tag is a prefix or suffix added to a name to identify that the gamer is in a team. These gamers are usually in a ladder of some sort and are trying to increase their skill. These kinds of people are more serious.

The reasons for a player using a game name are similar to those for actors using stage names. As the usual form of address in multiplayer games is not by a person's real name, some are prompted to think up a creative and unique alias that they wish to be universally known as.

Screen names differ from game names in that they are primarily used to identify a user account in a computer system, rather than provide an alternate name for a player. The only exception to this is if a player chooses to make both the same.

See also


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