Coming up with definitions for labels is never an easy task, even more so when that label is part of your identity. In this case, it is the label of a â€œgamerâ€. The first entry on Urban Dictionary defines a gamer as â€œsomeone who plays video games when bored â€¦ usually very good at itâ€, or â€œsomeone who plays video games as a hobby.â€ The second definition expands on this category by defining multiple types of gamers: â€œcasual gamers,â€ â€œhardcore gamers,â€ and â€œtrue gamers.â€ The author has a very negative definition of casual gamers, stating that they are gamers who buy consoles to play sport or racing games, donâ€™t enjoy fantasy games, and makes up the bulk of the gaming community. The author also defines them in such a way that reminds me of stereotypical frat boys. To the author, hardcore gamers arenâ€™t actually as hardcore as the claim to be, since they are the type to complain about new â€œ3Dâ€ gaming technology and debate the minutest details between two games in a series. Finally, the author defines true gamers as those who have gaming as a â€œtrue hobby,â€ play the finest games available, own high quality PCs, and play PC games.
In comparison with the definition given in the Oxford English Dictionary, these definitions are very narrow minded. It lists four definitions, but I will only focus on two: a participant in a war-game or role-playing game; a player or creator of such games and a person who plays video, computer, etc., games esp. habitually. I prefer this definition, since it allows for a much wider range of people to fall under the category of gamers. This is partially due to my earlier experiences with my gamer friends. I was told multiple times that by primarily playing The Sims, I was not considered a gamer, even though I met (and still do) the criteria listed in this definition.
Ultimately, the use of the gamer label is rooted in the desire to shape oneâ€™s identity, both personally and socially. In â€œHow to be a gamer! Exploring personal and social indicators of gamer identity.â€ Frederik De Grove, CÃ©dric Courtois, and Jan Van Looy used social identity theory to explore â€œwhy people attribute a gamer identity to self and othersâ€ (p. 346). They point out that video games are different when compared to other forms of media when it comes to identity, since video games provide a platform for expressing and experimenting with oneâ€™s identity (p. 347). What was interesting about their research was that, early on in the article, they pointed out it was easy for gamers to not attach the gamer label to themselves. Their study primarily focused on adolescent gamers, and they ultimately concluded the following: older adolescents were less likely to identify as a gamer than younger adolescents, males were more likely to identify as a gamer than females, and those who had played games in the last month were more likely to identify as a gamer than those who hadnâ€™t played. Finally, they determined that adolescents who had gamer friends were more likely to identify as a gamer as well, which emphasizes the social aspect of being a gamer (p. 354-357).