I Game, Therefore I Am (A Gamer?)

For a long time videogames were a hobby you had to fully commit yourself to; not only were games long, hard, and with few (or no!) save points, but you also had to be ready to defend your passion to the non-believers.

We’ve all been there, whether it be explaining to your parents that you aren’t spending too much time on that game, to your partner that a $100 game isn’t a waste of money, or to your co-workers that you actually spent your evening on a videogame. But more and more videogames are being seen as a more acceptable and “normal” pastime for people of all ages. This has been helped in no small part by casual games.

Yes we all complain about casual games supposedly not being real games; we sneer when someone refers to themselves as a gamer because they love Angry Birds. But times, they be changing bro. Whether you cringe at the clinking gems of Bejeweled or you actually use your copy of Wii Fit, the explosion of casual games in the videogame universe has certainly normalised the idea of being thoroughly engaged with the an electronic, interactive medium.

Earlier this year Latitude˚ Research launched a study of Smartphone owners who think of themselves as at least ‘casual gamers’ (although almost half labelled themselves “game enthusiasts”). The aim of the study was to see why they play games, how the stereotypical view of a gamer has changed, and how games are connecting more with real life. The overall purpose, to suggest to game developers and other industries where they need to be heading.

Well the results are in, and they have kindly provided us with some infographics of the hip new gamer and the potential for the gamification of life. The future view of gamer is that of “untethered,” “social,” “fun and goal-oriented” individuals, whose reasons to play include enjoyment, meeting new people, achieving personal goals and doing good for society. Really these are the kinds of people you see in Wii commercials; laughing while they play and wearing a sweater tied over their shoulders.

Who are the new gamers?
As Natalie Stehfest, a senior research analyst who led the study, pointed out:

“The gamers of tomorrow won’t be limited by platform or location. As technology becomes more seamlessly integrated with our lives, everyone will be a gamer, and the world around us will become the ultimate playing field,”

One part of this is that people want games to be integrated more with real life in the sense of their connection to you and where you are. This could be along the lines of the games that make you exercise without it seeming like exercise, games that are overlaid real world images through your Smartphone’s camera, or even games that react to your fear or excitement as you play.

The other part of this is the implications that everyone will be a gamer. On the plus side this view of a gamer is not the irksome stereotype we’ve all heard in some form before; the “petulant and portly adult playing a viscerally violent game in his parents’ basement” as one of the study’s participants noted. It is closer to the reality that any type of person can be a gamer, yet at the same time it takes away ‘gamer’ as an identity and possibly misunderstands gamification as being the same as videogames.

However you read it, society’s view of the gamer is becoming more positive. The question is where game developers are going to take this information;

  • Will they expand the range of stories and experience in games to cater to different people?
  • Will they use casual games as a stepping stone to draw people into different types of games?
  • Will they get caught up in the gamification of real life and forget to actually make fun games?
  • Or will they simply make more casual games and begin to step away from the ‘hardcore’ market?

Check out the summary of the results on the Latitude˚ website and let us know what you think (this is just my opinion after all). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what this research could mean for the future of games, and even how you feel about this future view of gamers.