Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The High School demographic of gaming

Well here's a bit of tenuous superficial social analysis that I pulled out of my ass today so check it out. Now anybody that's familiar with shallow but infinitely popular high school movies such as '10 Things I Hate About You'  and that other one with the pies in it will also be aware of the very caricatured range of cliques that are always portrayed in these movies. Now although the temptation is to tar all gamers with the same 'Nerds' brush (and I'm not denying that gamers can be very nerdy) I feel that within the population of people who play games there is definitely a spectrum of personality types that conveniently conform to these archetypal high school tropes.

The Jocks of gaming don't half love a good bit of 'pwning some n00bs' and delivering some good old fashioned punishment whether it be with a meaty submachine gun or a big ol' bludgeony melee weapon of some kind. Through sheer brute force repetition and sheer hatred of being the loser these action gamers are the dead lifting, all-american football playin, muscleheads of the gaming universe. Often abrasive and trash talking the analogy is complete. Jocks aren't traditionally good with menu screens other than upgrade screens which say 'Make Gun More Gunnier' and 'Buy More Gun Points' and God forbid they ever come across a puzzle segment.

I typed 'shooty games' into google images for an FPS image... I got this. 

The Cheerleaders of this high school metaphor are not merely 'casual gamers' as you might expect but more a special type of (possibly casual) gamer who goes above and beyond the call of duty and makes gaming cool so like y'know cool people who do cool things enjoy playing. I'm talking about that one cool girl who can get everyone playing with a dance mat, balance board or karaoke microphone. They're the one's that wear hipster clothing on the London Underground playing Pokemon White on their custom coloured Nintendo DS that makes you want to get out your bog standard model and gesture it in their direction from your scruffy triforce hoodie as if to say 'Look me too! Let me board your ark of social acceptance!'. Forget it man, the dream of gaming being cool has arrived but not for the likes of you. Might as well just go home and build that effigy of yourself crying in Minecraft and finish building that scale model of GLaDOS.

You have to be at least this cool to be a Cheerleader.

The Future MBAs and Preppies know how to take gaming to the next level. They're going places and no one can stop their ruthless advance to the upper echelons of society once they graduate. They've got plenty of Flash and Actionscript under their belts and you've probably spent a little bit of time playing that indie game they made that one time. They go to all the big gaming conferences and rub shoulders with big hitters like the guy who designed the artwork for the cover of Deathspank and the guy who leaked the first Skyrim trailer way back when. They're well connected and have got in their foot in the door of the industry. Watch this space for their name in the credits sequence of the next Meat Boy game.  Mark my words.

The Nerds were always going to make an appearance in this article and it took me some degree of thought to select the gaming demographic that best fits the mould of what actually classes as a nerd among nerds. We're talking pretty nerdy here so it's going to have to be an amalgamation of those people who are full-time shift workers on the factory floor of the MMORPG sweatshops and those who roleplay in such games. I mean that's roleplaying within roleplaying so it makes perfect Inception-sense to pair that up with nerds within nerds.

Is this the top of your wedding cake? Nerd! (and awesome)

The Band Geeks are probably the best of the bunch. They are also probably the most easy to get along with and should be nurtured and protected against the malevolent forces surrounding gaming. Like a true band geek they don't even think to check themselves before declaring their enthusiasm for a particular thing casting all fear of vilification aside. They wouldn't necessarily memorise the weapon stats for Final Fantasy 11 but would probably have a Silent Hill 2 T-shirt tucked away somewhere and would probably put a decent amount of effort into a single cosplay outfit for a night out. They enjoy the games they like and as long as you avoid rubbish movie tie-ins and 50 Cent Blood in the Sand, they probably won't be too judgemental about your own choice of games as long as you return the favour. In my opinion, the ideal student of this school.

That's it. Go away.