SASKATOON – What constitutes a ‘gamer’ in 2016? The stereotype no longer represents a teenage boy sitting at home alone in the dark playing video games. Today, a gamer is defined by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) as “someone who has played a computer or video game in the past four weeks.”
Kevin Hovdestad is a gaming and eSports journalist in Saskatoon. He explains a gamer is no longer a derogatory term.
“Today now calling someone a gamer is no different that saying someone went to a movie,” says Hovdestad. “It’s an indication of a pastime, is really all it is at this point. It encapsulates everyone, it encapsulates anything from a little kid whose learning the alphabet on those little Leap Frog tablets right up to my grandmother playing Bejeweled on her iPad and everything in between.”
According to ESAC, 19 million Canadians are gamers. That’s 54 percent of the population. In the U.S. four out of five households own a device used to play video games.
“It’s more ubiquitous than internet access and do you know anyone who doesn’t have access to the internet? It’s super common to see people have these games in their home,” says Hovdestad.
You might be surprised that most players are adults, the average Canadian gamer is 33 years old. Males still out number females, but not by much, with women making up 48 per cent of gamers in Canada.
David Mah, owner of Bartari, a new video game restaurant and bar in Saskatoon says he sees a similar gender split in customers.
“We have a ton or women, a ton, more than I was expecting even. We thought maybe twenty per cent women, but it’s pretty close to 50-50 I would say. Most of the women are better than the guys at the games too.”
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Among adult women ages 18 to 54, the most popular games are educational, like puzzles and word games. For males ages 18 to 34, role playing games top the list.
Games are becoming more social and there is a draw towards participating in active media.
“It’s amazing you see a group of people, they don’t just sit there and watch sports. They sit here and they interact with each other. They play some games and have some food and drinks and have fun,” says Mah.
Gaming is more universal than we might think and although most of us might not identify as a gamer, the reality is that it’s becoming more pervasive and normalized in our daily lives.