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GDC: Lunch With Luminaries - 'Gamer' Label Is 'A Limiting Moniker'

At GDC's Gamasutra-attended 'lunch with luminaries' event, EA exec Rich Hilleman and IGN president Roy Bahat have been discussing why "the self-selected 'gamer' tag is a limiting moniker".
The word "gamer" is constantly used as a lifestyle-defining marketing term, with products and services pitched directly to gamers, but that term may well be counter-productive, say IGN president Roy Bahat and EA chief creative director Rich Hilleman. "The self-selected 'gamer' tag is a limiting moniker," Hilleman said during the Gamasutra-attended 'lunch with luminaries' event during Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. Bahat recalled a focus group conducted by IGN, a major game-focused consumer website, in which the company assembled four groups of the most typical "hardcore" gaming audience, and IGN's chief demographic: 18- to 34-year-old males who play games for ten hours a week or more. The focus group moderator asked the assembled participants what they spend their free time doing, and responses ranged from hanging out with friends, to seeing movies, and numerous other common activities. But "not one guy says, 'games,'" Bahat said. That changed after the moderator specifically asked, "What about games?" Then, "one guy says, 'I've got every console since the Magnavox Odyssey and I keep them all in my mom's basement. Another guy says, 'I play 40 hours of World of Warcraft a week.'" "You've got a full-time job playing World of Warcraft, and you didn't even think to mention it?" Bahat wondered. He said despite all the time the participants spend with games, it never occurred to them to classify themselves as "gamers" -- and that realization may suggest something about the way the industry markets itself. "[Gaming] is just part of the fabric of entertainment," Bahat said.

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