Believe it or not, gamer culture has existed as a niche within the broader scope of the entertainment industry for more than sixty years. Although the style of gaming we know now stems back as far as the seventies, the first video games were already being created at the tail end of the 1950s.
In that time, the world of gaming has evolved – almost beyond recognition. As at-home consoles and, a short time later, handheld consoles broke out onto the scene, gaming began its most significant transformation, and the momentum first garnered back in the eighties continues to this day.
For a long while, the term ‘gamer’ was pretty clear cut phenomenon. While there have always been those who exist against the grain, the overwhelming impression of gamers was that they were men, likely in their mid-twenties to early thirties, and relegated to the nerdier subculture that existed apart from the rest of modern life.
The same notion was applied to gamer culture as a whole, which seemed to preclude those who did not adhere to the stereotype, and which existed on the fringes of popular culture – something for those who invested many hours into their screen time, and had honed their dexterity to almost wizarding levels. In many ways, ‘gamer culture’ was something of an oxymoron due to the self-contained nature of gamers’ experiences.
Gaming is No Longer a Self-Contained Experience
Consider the extreme rise in gaming streamers on popular platforms like Twitch and YouTube, where thousands of viewers login to share in an experience – not unlike sporting fans gathering at the side lines.
Similarly, much of gaming takes place communally. Online play is available in a staggering number of games, and players can work together – or compete directly against one another – without ever meeting in person. The biggest titles draw in a staggering number of players. For instance, the best live online casinos, where the digital collides perfectly with the physical by connecting users with real players and dealers across the world, have experienced tremendous popularity among new and expert players
Even when gamers play for themselves, there exist a broad range of titles that are so entangled within popular culture that the experience can no longer feel isolated. Consider the extreme popularity (particularly on Twitter) of InnerSloth’s ‘Among Us’, or the ways in which Mediatonic’s ‘Fall Guys’ has permeated meme culture. For anyone who lives out a portion of their life online, existing outside of the broader milieu is incredibly unlikely.
How Things Have Changed
To some extent, gamer culture has surpassed all other areas of the entertainment industry in terms of proliferation and inclusivity. While once gamers would represent a clearly defined niche, the default has changed: most of us are, to a greater or smaller extent, gamers – we have collectively joined the original niche to the point where those who exist within it significantly outnumber those who don’t.
It is, in many ways, comparable with the movie industry. We assume others are fans of watching movies without needing to ask; the same now goes for gamers. Whether we play on our phones as a way of killing time when we’re out and about, or whether we invest many hours into our consoles or custom PCs, existing within popular culture means existing within gamer culture – at least to some extent.
From Twitter threads to real-world gaming tournaments across the globe, gamer culture has permeated into every area of our lives – both on and off screen. Far from the original stereotypes that once defined gamers, the world of gaming includes everyone and offers infinite scope for creativity, a sense of community, and inclusivity – whatever your interests.