Not All Gamers Are Teenage Boys…They Just Act Like Teenage Boys

It's true that not all gaming fans are teenage boys and yet, it's easy to make that mistake.
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For just one moment, consider this from an outsider’s perspective.

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Let’s say someone has no idea about gaming culture or the industry in general. To get an idea of the audience and targeted demographic, this person heads online and checks out some of the more prominent gaming communities.

… and then they either laugh or cry, depending on their mood.

While gamers everywhere are combating the mainstream stereotype that not all gamers are merely teen boys (per some comments made by Ubisoft boss Jade Raymond), all outsiders are just shaking their heads. They’re not paying us any attention. And why?

Because we come across as nothing more than petulant, immature, insecure, hostile, and even potentially dangerous individuals. Sadly, that is what outsiders see when they choose to research us.

All entertainment groups have their fair share of immaturity, but nothing tops video games

Examine communities and forums that are designed to cater to fans of the film, television, music, sports and book industries. Go right ahead. I’ve done it. I saw a pretty appalling level of immaturity in some of the sports-oriented communities, but it was typically tempered by plenty of civil, passionate discussion. On the other end of the spectrum, checking out writing and book club forums resulted in basically zero bad behavior of any kind. One could argue that’s because such forums are comprised of older individuals, but what’s that say about the decay of intelligence in society?

Anyway, the point is that if you compare video game forums and communities to any other online group focused on another form of entertainment, we always emerge looking like complete morons. Not only do we exhibit unbelievable stupidity (the most unintelligible posts are found in gaming forums) but we also play into every lingering stereotype out there.

“Video games don’t make us violent,” “playing video games doesn’t mean we have poor social skills,” “playing video games doesn’t mean we don’t have a life”

We all say these things to defend ourselves against the ignorant accusations from various politicians, lawmakers and anti-game activists. I’m usually right there, too, leading the, “you have no idea what you’re talking about!” charge. And yet, when I step outside this little gaming bubble of ours and try to see things from an outsider’s perspective, I really can’t blame them.

Games don’t make people violent? No? Then why is everyone attacking everyone else all the time in the world of gaming communities and forums? Playing games doesn’t hamper social development? Really? Then why does it seem like 25-year-olds have the social tact and ability of an 8-year-old? Playing games doesn’t mean we don’t have a life? Well, given the amount of time some people seem to spend screaming at others online (when playing games online, and when talking about games in online communities), that accusation is difficult to counter.

We’re doing it to ourselves, people. We really are.

The mainstream press is still ignorant, but it’s easy to report on what they see

Sure, they spend much of their time trying to prove that video games are a dangerous force, and they focus their efforts on all the GTAs of the world. Games like Journey don’t even register a blip on the mainstream radar. And yes, it’s their fault for not digging deeper and seeing all the great things gaming has to offer. That being said, it’s hard not to blame them when they make assumptions about gamers.

All you have to do is view their behavior, which is available to the public online. When you do that, the results are mind-bogglingly awful. No, we’re not all a bunch of teenage boys but you know what? Based on how we act, we’ve got some growing up to do before we even reach the teen boy maturity level.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.