The image that comes to mind upon hearing the word, “gamer,” is undergoing a thorough transformation, both in popular culture and statistical circles. The stereotype of a reclusive, overweight man in his mid-twenties does neither holds up most people’s personal experience nor the results of demographic studies of those who play PC games.
The myth of the overweight gamer is similarly under transformation. The more hours per week a gamer plays, the more likely they are to be physically active, with a body mass index (BMI) below the national average. To be sure, some gamers might be known for their sedentary lifestyle, but the shift in numbers shows that more physically active people are turning to games for entertainment.
Many competing studies have come out in recent years, revealing contradictory results on the question of PC gaming’s mental health effects. But players appear not to be the social recluses they are made out to be. The rise of social PC games and online multiplayer options mean that games are not a solitary experience anymore, and as women become more engaged, couples are increasingly gaming together.
Those who play PC games are actually more likely to be engaged in activities and social engagements outside their virtual worlds. Gamers are also more likely than the general public to be staying up-to-date on current events and engaging in creative pursuits like writing or playing an instrument. They are also much more likely to vote.
The demographic shift in the gaming community is not because PC gamers are changing; it’s because so many more people are turning to games for entertainment. Installing and troubleshooting games is not as commonplace as it used to be. Some novice gamers do sometimes pick games that their computers cannot power. But with so many gaming computersavailable, hardcore gaming is not just for people who can build their own custom rig.
Just read the comments on any blog or news item on geek demographics. Players from across the age and gender spectrum will inevitably charm in. As more people join in, and the stigma continues to fade, PC gaming will be just another hobby.