He is 32 years old. He is male. He plays daily, usually for one hour. He is a Father. There are at least three screens in his household. Sometimes he plays video games to keep his mind active, but mostly he just plays to relieve stress. He is the average Australian gamer.
Today the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, together with Bond University, released its annual Digital Australia report. The headline is a familiar one: video games are mainstream. They are played by a large chunk of the Australian population. Video games are normal.
It’s ‘hardly’ news. Hardly. I say ‘hardly’ because even if the headline doesn’t change it’s still important to remind ourselves and others -- friends, family, mainstream media -- that playing, sharing and engaging in video game culture isn’t something we should ever be ashamed of. Ever. You know that, I know that. We should all know that, but somehow publicising the results of studies like this are necessary for representatives in the industry because some people still don’t get it.
As trite as it sounds, we are all gamers.
I’ve always had a strange relationship with that word: ‘gamer’. Is it a harmful word? What do we mean when we call ourselves a ‘gamer’? Does it mean we enjoy playing games? Or are we trying to communicate something else: that we take gaming seriously. That we only play a specific type of game? That we don’t bother with those icky Facebook games? I don’t know if any of those distinctions are worthwhile or helpful.
This year Digital Australia report really hit home. The numbers were the new, but they sounded eerily familiar. For a whole different set of reasons.
I am 32 years old. I am male. I play daily, usually for one hour. I am a Father. I have at least three screens in my household. I sometimes play video games to keep my mind active but more often than not I play to relieve stress.
I am the average Australian gamer.
It’s strange how we tend to define ourselves. These are the things that I do, we tell people, these are the things that make me unique. This is my job. this is what I do in my spare time. These are the things that make me different from other people. This is why you should remember me. We put these words on our Facebook page, on our websites.
My twitter bio reads, "Mark Serrels: Editor of Kotaku Australia. Video games. Climbing. Porridge". This is my job, here are the things I like. This is me. This is why I am 'interesting'.
I wonder how much longer I can keep the ‘video games’ part in there and have it still mean something.
I am the average Australian gamer. Playing video games makes me average. I think this is a good thing. It wasn’t always this way but the idea of the ‘video game’ and, more specifically, the idea of the ‘gamer’ has gone from something we use to define ourselves to something designed to exclude others. In the comments section of every news story about the increasing ubiquity of video games is a comment that reads, ‘but these people only play Facebook games, that doesn’t count’.
That is a silly old idea.
The usefulness of that word, that distinction -- the idea of the ‘gamer’ – soon it will wither and die. It will be a meaningless, dead word, or it will evolve; transform into something completely different.
I used to be a gamer, once upon a time I used that word to define myself. But now I am the ‘average Australian gamer’. I am about as normal as it gets. And if you play video games, so are you.