Upon hearing the word ‘gamer’, people immediately start conjuring up images and visions of overweight, lethargic, introvert, teenage boys sustaining themselves on potato chips and fizzy sodas, resting on throne-like armchairs.
Additionally, they only leave their darkened den, lit only by TV and computer screens, for emergencies like getting the new expansion pack or a newly-released game. However, if this is your idea of a ‘gamer’, you are mistaken!
Because what if I tell you that YOU are a gamer?
In this new age of technology, almost everyone is considered a gamer. Gamers are those who play any form of interactive digital game, be it on game consoles, PC’s, tablets or smartphones, to the extent that the term ‘gamer’ now has its subgroups; such as casual gamers and hard-core gamers. So whether you play at home on a 55” high definition TV screen or game you have downloaded on your smartphone on your way to school or work or even during lunch breaks, you are still considered one of the many gamers out there.
But it still does not justify the fact that gamers are teenage boys, you might think. That is where the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) comes into play. According to the ESA the average gamer is 35 years old and 74% of all gamers are aged 18 or older. Gamers are mostly men, however they win by a slim margin, since 44% of all gamers in the U.S. are female. Moreover, video games are a powerful engine for economic progression. In fact, in 2014, the gaming industry sold more than 135 million games and generated over $21.53 billion in revenue. This is more than double what the film industry nets in the US. Due to this expanding industry, other countries are succeeding in eliminating such false stereotypes about gamers.
But what is our Maltese society doing to banish these untrue labels about people who love to play games in their free time? To try to find an answer, I asked Sean Dingli, one of the top video gaming promoter on the island, and who also hosts a weekly radio show.
“Video gaming in the Maltese islands has been gaining popularity, only in recent years. Apart from game tournaments that are held throughout the year, several other activities are held. One of these is the game-themed parties in St Julian’s that are held twice a year. These are by far the most awaited activities that are organised.”
These parties are done in regular clubs so everyone can attend, however, they are of course, gaming related. But how are these a success, I asked.
“For instance, the drinks in the club are termed according to games and gaming characters; so if one is a fan of the much acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series, he or she can buy a drink related to this game.”
“Other activities involving gamers in Malta include charity events for l-Istrina and Puttinu Cares, apart from other events including the donation of blood. For example, when we launched the event for blood donating, we created a poster of Dracula, a famous character in the Castlevania game series, who is very much associated with blood. Automatically, fans of the series and gamers alike would be more encouraged to visit and donate blood, thus simultaneously helping the community.”
“Other gaming communities in Malta hold events such as barbecues, scuba diving, and karting. So, you see, gamers are not what people label them without perhaps even knowing what gaming is all about.”