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Why the mass market will NEVER be gamers

By on August 31, 2010

Margaret Robertson pointed me to this article on Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The article is not about the film, it’s about the endless carping about the assumed teenage, ADD, geeky males that the film must be targeted at, according to many, many reviewers.

The full article is worth a read, but this is the quote that leaped out at me:

“[I am] not a gamer. I own a Nintendo Wii, on which I enjoy boxing, tennis, being extremely bad at Super Mario Galaxy, and sometimes even playing Dancing With The Stars (deal with it), in which I have mastered the cha-cha at the professional level. If you are under the impression that this makes me a “gamer” anywhere except possibly in the sun-dappled rec rooms of some very rad retirement communities, you’re off your nut.”

The author is a lady named Linda Holmes. This is what she says about herself:

“I’m a woman, I’m in my late thirties, I can’t handle first-person shooters, I’m afraid of Comic-Con, and I really, really liked Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”

Linda IS the mass-market. She plays games. I’ve never played Dancing with the Stars, but mastering the professional cha-cha sounds like a commitment to me. I would call her a gamer.

But she won’t call herself one. When stopped on the street by a market researcher with a clipboard trying to find the elusive mass-market, she won’t acknowledge she’s a gamer.

I’m guessing (and only guessing here) that’s because Linda thinks that “gamers” own PS3s and 360s, not Wiis. She thinks gamers play Modern Warfare 2, not Dancing with the Stars. So Linda doesn’t classify herself as a gamer.

And that makes me think that the casual, mass-market gamer will *never* classify themselves as a gamer. In the same way that I watch movies but wouldn’t call myself a film buff.

In short, the mass market will never be gamers.

But they will all play games.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: