Video Gamer Stereotypes

In one of my other classes, a guest speaker lectured us about some of the stereotypes behind video gamers – they are mostly nerdy, overweight, violent, socially awkward, and almost certainly male. I’m sure each of us has heard at least one of these stereotypes, but none of them are true. In fact, roughly 40% of the gaming population consists of female players.

These characteristics attributed to video game players have started to drop off as the industry exploded in the past decade. More people are playing games and they’ve been incorporated into other types of media including television. For instance, South Park intertwined World of Warcraft within its cartoon in a show called, “Make Love, Not Warcraft”. The way games have been incorporated into mainstream society may have caused the decline in stereotyping video game players. However, a question popped into my mind: “How and why did these stereotypes ever get attributed to video gamers”?

Perhaps for the “violence” stereotype, our society was just searching for reasons why certain people committed violent acts, and after realizing they played violent video games, automatically associated the two without any real evidence. Maybe the casual gamer in the past played much more in comparison to the present leading to stereotypes of being socially awkward or nerdy. And as for the male stereotype, perhaps there was a much smaller female gaming population a couple decades ago and it was actually true in the past.

A recent study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many male players have a higher body mass index and more female players reported greater levels of depression. Many gamers were angered by this study as researchers admitted it wasn’t conclusive. Perhaps these types of studies also lead to various stereotyping of gamers despite the lack of conclusive evidence.

I’m not too sure about how these stereotypes came to be associated with video gamers, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.