What is a “gamer”? And what does it mean to be a gamer today?

These questions are ones that have been nagging me for some time now. While the term “gamer” is often thrown around as a synonym for “player”, to me these concepts are vastly different. While I would argue that a player is someone who plays videos games, the term gamer refers to one’s social identity with a community of players.

Over the last few years, I have wanted to explore the gamer identity on a deeper, theoretical level and this week in a new article published in Loading… Jan Grooten and I addressed these topics through a theoretical discussion of the gamer identity in terms of its construction within society, both virtual and within offline communities. Largely drawing from social identity theory, we argue that the gamer identity is multifaceted and extends beyond game playing habits or preferences. The article concludes with a presentation of the first multi-modal model of gamer identity that incorporates the relationships between the various contexts in which the gamer identity is developed and maintained.

As discussed by the editors:

In “Going beyond the game” Rachel Kowert and Jan Grooten broach the contentious topic of gamer identity. The authors explore the notion of a ‘gamer’ and gamer identity, treating it as a complex and expansive concept that comes to function both as a personal identifier and as a social identity. They conclude by presenting a multi-modal framework for thinking about gamer identity, one that reflects the complexity and heterogeneity of the gamer while still articulating its relevance as a personal, social, and virtual moniker.

If you are interested in learning more, the article can be freely accessed here.