Surprisingly, not everybody dares to call him or herself a gamer. According to Pew research focusing on the US population in 2015, equal men and women do play video games, however, men are twice more likely to call themselves “gamers”. Moreover, both genders believe that men tend to play more than women, which… is not the case. If you take a look at the numbers, the share is almost identical (50% men, 48% women). The strong association of online gaming and male gender can be traced back to stereotypes nourished by social norms, literature and even movies. Unfortunately, those stereotypes have been kept alive ever since Protestantism in Northern Europe rose to power. Why? Because it fostered a social duality linking masculinity to science, logic and reason, whereas femininity to arts, myth and fiction. Even though this dichotomy is still present, there have been efforts to engage both genders equally in the world of mind gaming.
At this point, another stereotype can be eliminated: age. Mind gamers are not necessarily young teenagers! A cross-cultural study including Germany, France, Spain and the UK showed a significant rise in gaming amongst the older generation. In only four years (2012-2016) the number of 35-44 year old people reporting gaming activity grew by 13%. In particular, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the average American gamer is 37 (female) and 33 (male) years old. And there’s more, since “women age 18 and older represent a significantly greater portion of the regular game-playing population than boys under age 18.”
It seems that men and women, as well as younger and older people have discovered the positive the impact of mindgaming. And undoubtedly, with the current highest overall earning being $2,727,796.47, gaming can be a profitable activity. Nevertheless, the psychology of gaming is much more complex, and profit is not the only motivation for enjoying the sensation of strategy and intelligence games online.
The six types of Gamers
In his book “Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design”, gamification consulant Andrzej Marczewski, attempts to classify gamer types and suggests six main types of Gamers. Can you spot yourself?
Socializers are the networkers of the mind gaming world. Following their inner urge to connect and interact with others, they enjoy the Relatedness they gain to their co-players. A Socializer constantly tries to fulfill the deeper psychological need for contributing to something bigger, for overcoming one self’s individual limitations by building a greater, common good. Thusly, he or she socializes in order to build a society on the long term.
Who hasn’t stumbled upon the one gamer with the most extravagant and conspicuous avatar? Chances are that you have come across a Creator, a gamer striving for creation and innovation. The same applies on the Explorers, who are attracted by the liberating feeling of freedom in online gaming. Battling against fictional characters, real players, laws of nature or even themselves: For Explorers, anything is possible. This is why Free Spirits, Creators and Explorers alike, love mind games for the autonomy and self-fulfillment they offer.
Achievers seek online gaming for their own personal improvement. Motivated by Mastery, they strive for the reward of developing the most successful strategy. Interestingly, Achievers do not wish to show off, because they do not care about social recognition and admiration. They’re in for the system, not for the players, since both teamwork and battling fulfill only one final goal: improvement. For them, the game is a personal challenge, and they want to master 100% of it.
Have you ever wondered who is replying to all those questions on internet forums, being always online, always there for a helpful advice? That is the Philanthropist. He or she is strongly motivated by their self-efficacy, which means seeing the actual impact and value they have for others around them. They are driven by Purpose, as they enjoy the gratitude for their teamwork much more than the game itself. Philanthropists might not be the full-blooded players, but they keep the heart of mind gaming alive thanks to their valuable support.
Those are the pure gamers. The ones playing for the thrill of solving a riddle, developing a plan, attacking and eventually winning. Rewards are a Player’s exclusive and strongest motivation.
Disruptors are classified in many subtypes, but they have one thing in common: They want to change the game. Influencers and Improvers aim for overall improvement, while Griefers and Destroyers…don’t. Griefers are those players you usually hate in the game, they are uncooperative, rude and harmful. They enjoy their power and its consequences on others, and they are driven by the Purpose of poisoning the entire game. At the same time, Destroyers wish to exploit their skills and status too, but choose to attack the whole system instead. This is why hackers are usually classified as Destroyers. Disruptors in total are fascinated by the idea of their own power and its effects, the positive and the negative ones.
Socializers, Achievers, Philanthropists, Players, Disruptors… All of those categories, as well as their numerous subtypes, are vital for the art of mind gaming. Despite their intersocietal differences, mind games have become a meeting point for people motivated by purpose, change, relatedness, reward, autonomy or mastery. By that, a global community is built; A global community in which each and everyone has his or her role, and a very personal space for growth.