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Not all gamers are stinky, fat introverts dwelling in a basement. Not all gamers are socially awkward teens with four eyes and greasy hair. In fact, if we all took a step back and ignored pop culture’s depiction of gaming enthusiasts, we might come to see that most video game fans are just normal folks who want to be entertained.

You might roll your eyes and think, “Stereotypes exist for a reason.” Yes, on some level that is true. Stereotypes don’t form in a vacuum and it’d be dishonest to say that stereotypes can’t be true. However, stereotypes are contextual — perhaps true in a given time period or setting but never across the board.

The worst gamer stereotypes often develop based on a vocal minority. It’s not so much that gamers are jerks. Rather, jerks who play games are the most likely to be vocally prominent, making it easy to assume that they represent all gamers. It’s a classic mixture of selection bias and confirmation bias.

Here are some of the worst stereotypes that just aren’t true in this day and age.

Myth: Gamers Are Young Males

The traditional view of a gamer is a teenaged boy who comes home from school, throws down his backpack, and plops down in front of the television to play his Xbox One or PS4 for hours on end. Does that happen? Of course it does. Does it represent the entire industry? Not quite.

According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2014 video game industry survey, 59% of Americans play video games. Of them, 71% are over 18 years old with the average age being 31 years old. And if you thought the demographics were dominated by men, you may want to reconsider: 48% of gamers are female.

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The typical reaction to those stats is: “Well, those people aren’t real gamers.” That kind of thinking is a direct example of the No True Scotsman Fallacy The MakeUseOf Toolkit Against Online Trolls [Part 1] The MakeUseOf Toolkit Against Online Trolls [Part 1] How many Internet arguments have you witnessed? Or better yet, how many Internet arguments have you participated in? I visit a number of forums and communities on a daily basis, and I see arguments all... Read More and results in a strange phenomenon where we define gamers by their stereotypes rather than disarming said stereotypes because they’re no longer true.

Gamers are people who play games. It’s as simple as that. Tune into a few different Twitch live streams 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing If you don't like eSports and you've written off Twitch as "not for you," it's time to reconsider. These entertaining Twitch streamers aren't associated with eSports in any way. Read More to see just how diverse the demographic has become.

Myth: Gamers Are Lazy

This is one stereotype that really bogged me down during my own childhood. On the one hand, it’s unfair. Binging on Netflix and watching entire seasons of television at a time? Normal. Reading book after book after book? Admirable. Sinking hours into Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit? Everyone does it.

Yet once you invest time into video games, suddenly you’re a lazy loser with no passions or life goals. Not to say that gaming is any better than other forms of media, but it certainly isn’t any worse.

gamer-stereotypes-lazy-and-unmotivated

This laziness is often expressed as escapism. Of course, some people do find themselves addicted to video games Video Game Addiction In Teens - What Is Too Much and How to Curb the Problem Video Game Addiction In Teens - What Is Too Much and How to Curb the Problem Video game addiction is a serious issue. I know this because I am an ex-video game addict. Read More because they offer a safe form of mental escape. However, isn’t that true of all forms of entertainment? Just as Netflix, books, and Reddit all provide a moment of fresh air in the busyness of life, so do video games.

But some gamers are the exact opposite of lazy. For example, many competitive esports players Think You Have Skills? Can You Compare To These Guys, The Best Gamers In The World Think You Have Skills? Can You Compare To These Guys, The Best Gamers In The World Some call it competitive gaming, others call it eSports, but regardless of what you call it, one truth remains: some players are just so insanely skilled that it almost feels superhuman. Read More treat their training routines like a full-time job: at least 40 hours of dedicated practice per week. Sure, esports doesn’t demand as much physically from players as traditional sports, but the mental aspect of practicing even when it stops being fun is always there.

Should that kind of work ethic be considered lazy? No, I don’t think so. Misguided perhaps, but certainly not lazy. And as for gaming being a waste of time, there are actually several life skills gaming can help us develop 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop Video games can help you succeed at life. It's an uncommon opinion, especially in mainstream media, but it's true. Read More .

Myth: Gamers Are Socially Awkward

The basement dwelling stereotype is one that encompasses many different groups: gamers, hackers, programmers, etc. The common link is that these people enjoy spending their time in front of a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Some call them introverted. Others call them socially awkward.

But does an affinity to computers necessarily imply that one is either introverted or socially awkward? Maybe, maybe not. It’s easy to point out gamers who lack social sense 4 TED Talks To Revolutionize Your Social Relationships 4 TED Talks To Revolutionize Your Social Relationships The best TED Talks are the ones that plant seeds in your heart, which later grow into life-altering changes. These videos provide insights into social psychology and give you some food for thought. Read More when we see them, but how many “normal” gamers pass us by without us ever realizing it? Again, confirmation bias plays a big role here.

gamer-stereotypes-socially-awkward

Not to mention that approximately 50% of America is introverted. If we assume the statistic is also valid for most first-world countries, then gamers as a demographic must be more than 50% introverted if the stereotype is to hold true. Otherwise, it’d be more proper to conclude that a socially awkward gamer just happens to be a gamer who is socially awkward.

Given that we’re all spending more time in front of monitors and mobile screens, it only seems right to say that people as a whole are losing social sense 4 Websites For Socially Awkward People To Improve Their Skills 4 Websites For Socially Awkward People To Improve Their Skills Sometimes there are individuals who simply just don't do well with social situations that most people face everyday. Do you have trouble going through drive-thru restaurants? Have you ever had problems talking to people while... Read More . Maybe it has nothing to do with the gaming industry at all.

Final Thoughts

The gaming industry has shifted a lot over the last decade and the demographic has shifted along with it. There may have been a time when lazy and socially awkward boys were a vast majority, and while those kinds of gamers do still exist, they are no longer an accurate representation of the group.

Is it time to let these stereotypes die? Or do you think they hold just as true as they ever did? Share with us what you think in the comments below!

Image Credits: Playing computer game Via Shutterstock, Male & Female Gamer Via Shutterstock, Lazy Couch Gamer Via Shutterstock, Gamer Friends Via Shutterstock

  1. Frustrated
    January 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Here is one truth that is basically forgotten. That article doesn't show a single "gamer" in any of those pics. It shows "players". Console players to be exact. A real "gamer" is ONLY on PC. Fat Corp Execs that don't understand their target market are the ones who thought that a "player" and a "gamer" are the same thing. Naturally "players" didn't mind getting lumped in and called a "gamer" coz it was way cooler and gave them the same status as a "gamer". But they are not the same thing. I'm not saying one is better than the other but it was perceived to be that way when they got lumped together. It is really an "apples vs oranges" thing. A console player is someone that doesn't learn about the games in detail nor has any skills about how it works. They just want to be able to pick up a controller and push a power button and get some fun in. Nothing wrong with that at all! A "gamer" is looking for a much different experience. They want to invest time in a game and will customize it in many ways with mods and features. They expect a much more detailed and rich environment in a game and will spend the time to master it. That is why a gamer needs a keyboard and mouse to control their type of game. They need all the buttons of a keyboard and control of a mouse for their game. Not a small joystick and few buttons on a controller. They also learn a lot about how to install and customize games and the hardware required to run it. Some go so far as to learn how and make their own mods and customizations which earns them the label of "Hardcore Gamer!". So you get an idea why a true "gamer" is not satisfied with the low level games created for consoles and ported to run on PC. Not understanding the difference between them is largely what is killing the "Game" industry and nobody seem interested in acknowledging it. Sad really but it is true.

    Another tidbit of terminology that is annoying as hell. Cheaters vs Hackers. Was a sad sad day when people started calling/labeling "cheaters" with the "hacker" term. A hacker is someone who writes code for nefarious purposes. Usually nothing to do with games but other purposes. Hacking was the act of defeating security measures to gain access to do whatever nefarious actions the "hacker" had in mind. While it was most likely a "hacker" that wrote the scripts or built the files used by "cheaters" to cheat in games. They are still just CHEATERS!. Calling them "hackers" is to imply they have the skill required to do the hacking in order to cheat. They do not! They downloaded someone else's work and followed instructions created by yet another person to allow them to cheat. Often times actually paying money in order to do so. There is NO skill involved with that. In fact, if the person had any dedication and skill they wouldn't need to cheat in the first place. "Cheaters" are usually the retards that are being taken advantage of by "hackers". The number 2 way to get your PC infected by malware is looking for game cheats! Right behind looking for porn as the number 1 way. The issue I have it is that it basically promotes cheating among the retards. They all know they have no skill and are retarded but if they can get someone to call them a "hacker" it makes them feel better. Truly pathetic! Another thing responsible for killing the "Game" industry.

    Get rid of those 2 issues and I will gladly wear the label of a stinky fat social introverted GAMER!!!

    • Jessica C
      January 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      'No true scotsman' fallacy, much?

    • alfredogomez833
      September 1, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      I have to agree with jessica, you writing all of this plus you thinking that just because someone plays on a console shouldn't be called a gamer means you have a narrow mind and should probably get out more

    • John
      December 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I tip my fedora to you sir I totally agree with you in any aspect and try to explain exactly what you mention above in any topic of "peasants vs masterrace" I happen to participate... its not about hating the people its about not accepting the low standards of consoles that try and have succeeded in a big way in ruining the gaming industry.

    • KeroroLM
      July 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      This is the saddest article I've seen. Look at super smash brothers melee, look at pro street fighter, then look at the skill thats required for like minecraft pvp. You'll see console players have faster hands and smarter thinking. For you to say that console players aren't gamers is the most idiotic thing I've heard. The term "gamer" comes from the heart of the player not how many mods and such you can put in a game. For you to think that all console gamers are casuals is ludicris. And any type of rearranging of code and such is considered hacking. you'd be surprised to know whats considered hacking.

  2. bben
    January 6, 2015 at 11:52 am

    As a moderator on a game site I see all kinds. Many women use mens or gender neutral names - and for good reason. That being the noisy, obnoxious, misogynous, homophobic, racist dorks that the mainstream media believes make up the majority of gamers. (Yes, they do exist and we ban those when we catch them) I have seen gamers as old as 85 and a few grandmas on the site - We also ban anyone we catch under 13 as we do have PG13 content. But based on forum comments I'm sure we have a lot of underage kiddies that lied about their age here as well. We actually have quite a few more women than most people would believe. Several of our moderators are women as well. Many of those who do not fit the media stereotype have learned to keep a low profile so the media just does not even realize they exist.

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 12:09 am

      I'm happy to hear that you moderate a diverse community like that. Awesome!

      Your last sentence brings up a fantastic point: so many stereotypes persist due to confirmation bias. We might see hundreds of people who don't fit a particular stereotype, yet the moment we DO see a stereotypical person, it gets reinforced in our minds. I wonder if there's a way to solve that problem?

  3. Maths Ju
    January 6, 2015 at 5:11 am

    I, personally am a gamer. Although I do play some violent games, according from my friends I am actually one of the more timid of the bunch. However, one person I know is a gamer is violent, gets in trouble often, has long oily hair, is socially awakward, and is lazy. Despite all of this he plays Mario and Sonic. I believe that it is the gamer's personality that matters, not the game they play.

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 12:05 am

      I agree completely. All media has been accused of influencing violence in people (music, TV shows, movies, and games) yet those accusations never really hold up to scrutiny. It's the individual that we need to worry about, not the fact that they play games!

  4. Victor
    January 6, 2015 at 4:55 am

    I know of two very talented young ladies who are amazing singers and songwriters with huge followings on youtube and in the world, but yet both of them consider themselves hardcore gamers, and even stream League of Legends on a constant basis! Gamers are NOT any of the above!

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 12:02 am

      That's awesome! Not just the fact that they play but that they stream as well. :)

  5. McFuzz
    January 6, 2015 at 4:19 am

    People DEFINITELY still think that gamers are violent (Just take a look at the recent Target GTA5 scandal). Stories are on the news (and news websites) all the time. Unless you're implying by the title of this article that that ISN'T a lie, and that gamers really are violent?

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 12:01 am

      No, you're right, that's not what I meant. There are plenty of other gamer stereotypes that don't hold up, including the one about violence. In a lot of cases, these kinds of stereotypes are explained by saying "this gamer happened to be X" rather than saying "all gamers are X".

      If it can be proved that gamers as a group are more likely to be violent, that would be something, but right now it's more true to say that violent gamers are violent.

  6. dragonmouth
    January 5, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I think the ESA Survey is a myth, or rather their figures are. Nowhere do they outline their methodology, they just throw numbers at us. How were those numbers obtained? Who was surveyed? Are the number actual or are they extrapolated based on a sample? If extrapolated, what was the sample size? Who is considered a "gamer"? Somebody who spends most of his/her waking time playing games or someone who plays once every couple of months? What do they consider a "video game"? Something that requires couple of $500 video cards or is it Solitaire or Freecell? Or did they just add up all the games sold since Pong was invented? (Yes, the last question is facetious.)

    As was famously stated by a few people, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

    "59% of Americans play games" Is that 59% of ALL Americans or is that 59% of American PC owners? If the former, then that's between 180 and 190 million people depending on what the total US population is at the moment. If the latter, that is still close to a 100 million. Either way you slice it, that is an awful lot of people playing games.

    • Joel Lee
      January 7, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Did you read the PDF? There's a note in it that says:

      "The 2014 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry was released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in April 2014. The annual research was conducted by Ipsos MediaCT for ESA. The study is the most in-depth and targeted survey of its kind, gathering data from more than 2,200 nationally representative households. Heads of households, and the most frequent gamers within each household, were surveyed about their game play habits and attitudes."

      I guess that's a good starting point if you want to look deeper into the exact methodology that was used for the survey.

    • Muckus
      January 8, 2015 at 12:21 am

      Saying it's the "most indepth and targeted" is a relative, not an absolute statement, and also doesn't explain how they came to that conclusion. All households in america are "natinonally representative." Not sure why heads of household is more relevant than anybody else, unless its about who controls the purse.

  7. Riley Mullins
    January 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I'd say being a certain age range should be in that list of myths about gamers. I know a few people well into their 50's that play PC or on gaming systems and can hold their own with online.

    • Joel Lee
      January 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Definitely. Gaming is no longer a hobby strictly for young'uns, whether male or female. There's enough gaming entertainment to satisfy all kinds of people these days.

  8. Findia Group
    January 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sean
    January 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I'd be interested to see some data supporting the assertion that these are myths people still believe. The article provides a lot of evidence to rebut the myths, but doesn't really provide any support for the claim that these are still widely-held stereotypes.

    • Joel Lee
      January 7, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Good point. That kind of data would be interesting to look at but I'm not sure it exists. If someone has a study that deals with how widely gamer stereotypes are still believed, please point me! I'd be grateful. :)

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