The Different Types of Gamers
These days the media seems to lump all types of gamers into one composite blob, one simple and easy target. But the truth is that we as gamers constitute a variety of blobs, and a variety of easy targets.
All too often I have happened into a conversation with someone where they utter those oh-so tantalizing words: “Yeah, I play games.” But upon further discussion I discover that our gaming tastes do not overlap. Where I would discuss Cole’s exploits in Infamous, they might espouse reasonable trading practices for Eve Online. Where I might rave about my Gran Turismo cars, they might boast of their Draw Something pictures.
‘Gamer’ as a title is can be misleading now-a-days. Here I shall attempt to categorize all the different types of gamers as they exist in reality.
First off we have the casual gamers who, although they constitute the largest demographic, are definitely the least interested in games (and most likely not reading this article on a dedicated video game website). These are the people who play Angry Birds on their smartphone while they wait for the bus, or flip on Farmville when they’re waiting for their hopeful facebook lover to reply to their message. This is the soft-core version of a gamer, the gamer by happenchance, who does not actively seek the intricate experience that games offer, but fills the downtime of their lives with elaborate versions of pong.
The next type of gamer is the casual console gamer. These are the people who live in a house where, for whatever reason, there is a Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360. In these houses the consoles sit idle and neglected, serving mainly as an occasional present idea generator. “Oh,” says the pop-culturally ignorant grandpa, “they have one of those PS3s. I’ll just pick up any random old game for it and they are bound to like it.” A popular among this demographic are games like Singstar and Rock Band, or maybe the occasional Mario game. By large these consoles go untouched, except for nights when company is over and no one can remember where they keep the board games.
The casual specific gamer, we all know one. This is the person who plays one game –maybe two– to the exclusion of all others. There is a favourite game, or series, among this demographic, and I don’t think I have to tell you what it is. But, I’ll tell you anyway; Call of Duty. Though sometimes the casual gamer’s love of this game entices them into purchasing other similar games like Battlefield. And although Call of Duty is a mainstay of casual specific gamers, it is not the only one. In many cases the casual specific gamer is dedicated to a sports game, the latest version of Madden in the U.S. or the latest version of FIFA in Europe. Of course there is crossover between these selective gamers, and they will occasionally play other games, but the main idea is that they tend to see their console myopically. It is the Call of Duty machine or the Madden machine, not the multipurpose thing it was intended to be.
Then there is the gamer. This category has several tiers of dedication. These are the people that like videogames in general, and although they may not be up to date on the latest news of even their favourite series they consume a variety of games. These are the people, often young, who go to Gamestop and pick out a game based solely on how appetizing its cover appears to them. They play videogames because they enjoy what video gaming as a medium has to offer. They are somewhat casual in the sense that they do not make a distinct effort to follow gaming culture, and instead hear about games by word of mouth. This gamer was in massive quantity during the last console generation, but has somewhat petered out since the dawn of the new consoles. Favourite games include Grand Theft Auto, and random titles like Mirror’s Edge or Psychonauts.
That type of gamer is the proto-stage of a more dedicated gamer: the interested gamer. This is the gamer who knows about the greats like Zelda, Mario and Final Fantasy, though they may not actually have played them. This gamer is very aware of the small series’, Sly Cooper, Kingdom Hearts, Persona (to those who are reading this it probably sounds preposterous to call those small, but to those outside the gaming community these names are meaningless). These are the core gamers, in the sense that they are the people to whom most games are marketed. These gamers are the reason series’ are so popular. They know about the climate of the industry and can probably name several developers, publishers, and gaming figures. These people may spend the gamut of time actually gaming, but their identifying characteristic is that they are ever aware of the gaming industry and climate.
And there are the PC gamers, a lot of whom are niche gamers dedicated to their own market, but only marginally aware of all others. Star Craft, League of Legends, Total War, World of Warcraft, Diablo. This is a mostly MMO and RTS crowd. Typically, but not as a rule, they do not play console exclusive games like Uncharted or Gears of War. This is by far the most esoteric group of gamers you will find, and in some circles you’d need a lexicon just to be able to communicate with them. They are often devoted or hard-core, even more than their interested gamer brethren, though their dedication is usually to one specific game. They may change game allegiances from time to time but when they chose an allegiance they focus on it and only it.
In close relation to the PC gamer is the PC broad market gamer, those who play games that are predominantly associated with consoles the console market on the PC. Such games include Assassins Creed, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty. These gamers are by no means reserved to big budget hits. No, these gamers are also very interested in smaller games and indie games. It comes as no surprise then that this gamer calls Steam its home base.
These categories only specify types of gamers in terms of marketing demographic and not genre preference. It goes without saying that within each of the categories are dozens more types of gamers who all have their own niche. But all of these gamers are valid gamers, ultimately grateful for the wonderful pastime.