“On Not Becoming Gamers”

While reading Adrienne Shaw’s article, “On Not Becoming Gamers,” I found myself agreeing with her point that the construction of the “gamer” identity limits the range of narratives and diversity of texts available in the gaming industry. This is because the gamer identity is constructed in a very narrow manner– traditionally, “gamers” have been white, male, cis, and straight. I agree for sure that this identity prevents people who otherwise love playing games from identifying as gamers, just because they do not fit into this box– which in turn creates a very heterogeneous target audience in the minds of executives and designers in the gaming industry. It is a vicious cycle, for sure.

Though the article was full of interesting insights into gamer identity, the suggested solution to the main problem left me unsatisfied. Shaw suggests that solutions can be found in recognizing that marginalized peoples’ play practices and representation matter whether or not they are gamers. Yet she doesn’t address that the logic of the market will always mean that games are created only for those who can pay up. Even as she makes this point, she does not address this fundamental issue. I don’t blame her– this is a much bigger problem than can be adequately handled in one journal article. But still, the point stands.

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