Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Debunking Gamer Stereotypes

I blame the video "Roll a D6" for making me think of this, but there are a lot of gamer stereotypes out there that by and large aren't true. Shocking, I know. Stereotypes that don't actually fit with the majority of the group, who would have thought? Anyhow, I thought we could take today and poke holes in some of these stereotypes, as well as ourselves at the same time. So, let's start debunking some of these stereotypes.

#1 - It Is All The Same Game
This is a less harmful one, and one of the few that actually looks at the games we play instead of us. Basically, the myth/legend/stereotype is that it is all one game. You have one character, which you move from game to game and power it up. Meaning that if you have a Level 13 fighter in your home game, when you join a new group in college you would just bring that level 13 fighter over and continue his story.

Now, there are some large, international groups that allow this (heroes of rokugan, rpga, etc). However, these are the exceptions not the norm. Most games, you make a new character for that game and that game world specifically. As for everyone playing the same game...umm, no, just flat out no. Lots of games, lots of genres, and lots of different player types.

#2 - We All Love Anime
Personally, I like anime (at least some of it), and yes, there is the whole idea of homophily  which is essentially "like attracts like". However, this doesn't mean that every gamer at a table is going to be like all anime just because it is anime, or even like anime at all. This can be a good warning for us anime-liking gamers ourselves. Do not just assume that everyone at the table is going to like the things that you like, get the references you are making, or otherwise just be a clone of you.

#3 - Nary a Girl In Sight
This is an old stereotype that I've never understood, especially along with the next one on the list. Up until recently, I had never played in an RPG group that didn't have at least one girl in it, if not more. Those recent games where it was finally an all guy game? The reason for that was because the GMs hand picked the groups, and the female gamers in the group that had been invited, were otherwise occupied or just in too many games to join.

Female gamers have long been a staple in the RPG community, that I'm not sure how this could have lasted for anywhere near as long. Except, of course, as an extention of..

#5 - A Bunch Of Anti-Social Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks
This one has been played up since RPGs were born, i think, and I'm sure you all know the imagery I'm talking about. A bunch of GNDs sitting around a table, laughing in quirky ways while talking in overly exaggerated tones about what is going on. I can honestly, and perhaps thankfully, say I've never been exposed to even one gamer like this. Sure, a few people have been awkward socially at times, but never to the degrees you hear about in the stereo types. Most gamers are just people who enjoy this particular hobby, and I think I've met more military people who like gaming than Computer Science majors. I've definitely met more people who, outside of their gaming habit, would not be qualified as a geek, nerd, or dork than those who would. Than again, by my view, People are People. Leave it at that.

#6 Overweight Neck Beards!
Speaking as an overweight gamer that can grow a massive neckbeard, I can see where this one comes from (hello!). However, I'm also often the rarity at the gaming table. Sure, other gamers at the table may be over weight or not in perfect physical condition, but how many of us are in perfect physical condition? Right, I thought so. This goes back to People being People, but gamers come from all walks of life. Does our hobby lend itself more towards being overweight than other things? Sure, maybe. We do sit around for our hobby. However, there are lots of fit gamers, and even groups out there to help those of us who are overweight get fit. (+5 Cha anyone?)

What Else?
I'm sure I've missed a whole bunch, so I'll leave it to you guys. What other stereotypes about gamers do you want to go ahead and debunk while we have the time? Go nuts!


  1. A portion of #1 (all one game) stems from the stereotype that gamers cannot seperate fantasy from reality. This stereotype gives rise to the ideas that gamers (particularly fantasy gamers) actually believe they are their character or try to perform occult rituals with their games or other such nonsense. It is this same idea (and I have actually run into one of these folks) that spawns the stereotypical gamer that is so wrapped up in one favorite character that s/he will actually try to port it (with full background/history/stats if possible) into any and every game s/he plays.

    The extreme down side to this one (and the guy that I met once) is when they get so wrapped up in the character that they actually try to re-write the game world because it doesn't fit their character concept.

  2. I can think of one more... the "gamers smell bad" stereotype! It would probably fall under the socially challenged category that you already mentioned, but oh well. Unfortunately, I've encountered that one a few too many times in my years. But it's still a stereotype... not all of us have THE FUNK! :-)

  3. Not all gamers have the funk is true. In fact, a lot of gamers hate those with the funk. There's a reason it's becoming a rule in many CCG's that if your opponents BO is distracting, you can make them go take a shower.

  4. Holy crap, I hadn't heard of that rule. I want to play in THOSE tournaments! The closest I've seen is this:

    And I didn't even see it in person... which is a shame, because there are a few stinkers where I play Friday Night Magic occasionally.

  5. It is supposedly a tournament rule in the L5R CCG, and is growing in popularity in some magic tournaments.

  6. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my audience would value your work.
    If you're even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

    Here is my blog: Read full article