As far as stereotypical American families go, you can’t find one that fits the template a whole lot better than me. My wife and I met in college, graduated, saved up and purchased a house, then finally had a kid. While it may not seem as such, these are all major – and optional I might add – life decisions. Along the way we have had countless friends, some that followed our exact path and others that have gotten off the path after certain similar life decisions and finally those that never even started it. I don’t mind whether you’re married or not, have a child or not, or even what you do for a living, but for some reason many of the people I’ve met in life do. They are constantly trying to recruit their own peer group. You know who I’m talking about, those people who want you to be married because they are or have a child because they do. I hate these people with a passion. Gamers are like this too; now that we are not solely a group of people who share the same hobby, diversity within gameplay has resulted in diversity among peers.
From what I can tell there are a few core groups out there:
- Traditionalists – These are gamers that typically play games for the unique gameplay style or the story. Most likely they played the classics, may or may not be a retro gamer, favor the RPG and adventure genre, and don’t play many online games. This doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy, appreciate, or play the other groups, they just prefer the solo plot-driven experience. I would classify myself as one of these players and can be guilty of switching my online status to “show offline” from time to time.
- Socialites – A new type of gamer that started in the early 2000s and has significantly grown with the online features of this generation of consoles. Unfortunately lumped together regardless of genre or title of choice, these are your players that want social interaction while gaming. They tend to fluctuate between a handful of games and are often playing competitive titles in large blocks of time. Different from MMO players, although similar, these players need other gamers to enjoy their playing experience and thus tend to migrate to the most popular title in their genre of choice. Call of Duty and Halo are the simple examples but it expands far beyond that and into several diverse genres and titles like StarCraft and Monster Hunter being outlier examples.
- Sporties – Gamers that have probably been around since the beginning. They tend to play sports titles of all kinds from Madden style pro sports to more obscure examples like simulated racing in Forza. What’s compelling about this group is that they can typically adapt to any gaming circumstance: single player, online, or when friends are over.
- Party gamer – This group is most interested in recruiting gamers. They like to bring out video games in social situations, like parties, and play “on-the-couch” titles. In the era of the Wii, the Kinect, the Move, Rock Band, and several other examples these gamers are able to get people involved and not sacrifice social norms. It’s entirely possible that this gamer won’t play under any other circumstances and may not be long for the hobby with the direction gaming is going.
- Casual – Often identified by those that don’t want to think of themselves as being gamers. These players are addicted to small, bite-sized experiences that don’t cost much and require little attention. Anything in flash, anything on iOS or Facebook, and pretty much anything that can be played while in line at the DMV qualifies. This is quickly becoming the biggest group in terms of population, especially with society’s current obsession with mobile platforms.
- MMOers – A hybrid of the Traditionalist and the Socialite, they want ongoing living worlds out of their games. Each title they play are no longer a game, but a lifestyle. Sadly they are the most criticized due to the compulsive personalities demonstrating addictive personalities with negative life consequences.
- Indies – The only good game is a game that you haven’t heard of before, is usually unappreciated, attempts to either turn traditional gameplay on its head or justify games as art. Most of these gamers are extremely dedicated to the cause and prefer the independent title over the big budget streamlined game. Despite the elitist nature, I’ve often seen them joked about as the “hipsters of gaming,” these gamers appear to be the most open minded to trying new experiences and not concern themselves with what console or format the game presents itself in.
Quite a list, right? It’s not gospel, just the main types of gamers that I seem to notice out there. It’s high time we accept each of these gamers for their preferences and not try to recruit someone from one category into yours. I absolutely hate my Black Ops buddies bugging me with invites for hours on end when they see me playing Skyrim, but at the same time this is the nature of the Socialite and I can’t blame them for that. Basically it’s all about tolerance, so just like a dysfunctional family Christmas we need to learn to tolerate each other and embrace the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Any gamer type I forgot? Did I get a group completely wrong? Let us know.