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Table of Contents
Level 1: Introduction
Level 2: Cultural Turbulence
2.1 Intracultural Boundaries
2.2 Characteristics of Subcultures
Level 3: Concerning Gamers
3.1 Gaming Stereotypes
3.2 Gamer vs. Video Game Player
3.3 A Gamer's Identity
Level 4: The Role of the Mainstream Media
4.1 Approaching the Media
4.2 Analysing the Press
4.3 Spreading Stereotypes and Prejudices
4.4 Conesquences of Stereotypes and Prejudices
4.5 The Ambiguity of the Press
Level 5: A Perspective from Within
5.1 Analysing the Gaming Community
5.2 The Gamers' Hierarchy
5.3 A Restricted Identity
5.4 Escaping Real Life
Level 6: The Consequences of Stigmatization
Level 7: Conclusion
Appendix A: Newspaper Articles
Apendix B: Twitch Transcripts
Level 1: Introduction
The gaming branch has been exploding in the last decades like no other. While in the beginning, gaming was something practised by a small marginal group that possessed a computer and fully understood how to use it, a whole culture emerged in the last years. As the 2020 Global Games Market Report states, there are 2.7 billion people all over the world playing video games, and it is expected to grow up to 3.2 billion in 2023. Also, having been one of the fastest-growing markets for years, the report shows that worldwide the video game sector is more lucrative than any other entertaining media (“2020 Global Games Market Report”). Since 2018 it has been worth more than half of the United Kingdom's entertainment market and is, therefore, bigger in value than the video and music market together (“Gaming worth more than video and music”). Organised events like trade fairs where gamers can meet each other in real life, tournaments of so-called Esports, where they compete against each other in video games, and many other major events fill huge halls and do not miss a thing to any other activity. For example, one of the most significant gaming events, the gamescom in Cologne attracting 370.000 visitors is bigger than most other trade fairs for books and the Esports finale in League of Legends in 2019 has had, at least online with 205 million viewers, higher ratings than the football world championship finale in 2018 (Ziegler). All these facts summarized, it seems that gaming has found its way from the margin of society into the heart of the mainstream.
Still, it does not feel right to reveal to be a passionate gaming fan when introducing oneself to one's parents-in-law while admitting to being a football fan is relatively unproblematic. Erlandsson has studied the gaming attitudes and habits of consumers for over ten years. He noticed that many people who were playing video games denied being a gamer. The reason for this behaviour, he assumed, was the stigma of the undesirable, socially incapable nerd that is often associated with people who play video games. Although the origin of the term nerd is unknown, the first written reference that can be found in the poem “If I Ran the Zoo” from the famous children's book author Dr. Seuss in 1950, has had a different connotation. The term nerd comes from an “alteration of 1940s slang nert [which means a] stupid or crazy person” (“Origin and meaning of nerd”). The meaning and usage of this word must have changed when computer technology has found its way into more and more people's homes. Since then, the word has still been used in a negative way but refers to “an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept” person (“Nerd”). This picture has stuck with the gaming scene for a long time and is still, at least partly, existent. In order to counteract social harassment, the gaming subculture internally turned it into a compliment. Just like the word punk, which originally meant something in bad condition or a synonym for a prostitute, the linguistic appropriation of a word that had been used against the subculture of punks, took the unfavourable connotation from it. Even more, it became a symbol. The term nerd, therefore, might have vanished as a negatively connoted word for people playing video games, but the image behind it stayed.
Furthermore, Erlandsson mentions the stigma of the gamer “who was absorbed by their games”. With that, he refers to the controversial debates about the harmful effects of video games starting in the early 2000s. These included several different concerns about video games ranging from health-related topics like gaming addiction and gaming disorder to the representation of sexual orientation, gender and religion in videogames, and above all, the relation of video games and violence. After more and more psychological research had been done, the media psychology division of the American Psychological Association stated that “scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities” (“News Media, Public Education and Public Policy Committee”). These highly intense discussions slowly decreased, though never to be silent. Shortly after both terroristic assaults in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio in August 2019, President Trump gave a speech at the White House in Washington which showed that the debates had lived on:
Second, we must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life. That is what we have to do. (Trump)
Here, Trump does not only directly connect video games with violence, but he also speaks of a consistent youth culture that supports violent activities which must be reduced. Backed with few and mostly unconvincing arguments, many other politicians all over the world shared Trump's opinion and demanded to have a closer look at the gaming culture (Becker). This triggered international criticism, stating that Trump only tried to “distract us from real causes” (Timm) like the gun law. However, video game sceptics have a point. The games and their contents may have been studied thoroughly, but the culture I depicted in the very beginning, behind video games, has not.
It is not surprising that there are only a few studies on people playing video games. First, culture has substantially changed in the last years and is still evolving rapidly. For example, in 2010, with 69%, most video games were sold physically in a store. In 2017, it turned to 79% download proportion (Turow 424). When that changed, the last gaming activity that required leaving one's computer had gone, which leads to the next problem that complicates research. Secondly, to study cultural practices, it is necessary to get access to them. When researchers tried to study the subculture of skateboarders, they were looking for them in the pedestrian zones, city centres or skating parks (Schwier and Kilberth). But how to get access to practices that happen alone at home? Indeed, this is an indisputable problem. Opposed to the common misconception, studies have shown that gaming is not an antisocial activity (Turow). It has never been unsocial, it was merely hard to get access to gamers' practices. Since the internet is capable of connecting people from different locations all over the world, it has become the place where gamers socialize. Alexis Pulos had taken advantage of that in 2003 when he confronted heteronormativity in video games by analysing 400 messages posted on a World of Warcraft discussion board. Without doubt, he got a fascinating insight into the video game culture, still, his approach is only adaptable for one single game.
To study the whole gaming culture, we must find access that is not restricted to one genre. With the progress of the internet, new online platforms1 appeared where gamers could socialize outside of specific video games. One of them is Twitch, a free online streaming portal of gaming content founded in 2011. With 100 million users in total and twelve million users daily, it is one of the biggest online streaming platforms. There, anybody can go live and stream gaming content to an audience of up to hundreds of thousands. On Twitch, gamers can choose the game they want to watch and get an overview of several streamers. There they can communicate through a chat function with the streamer or other viewers. If gamers want to socialize these days, Twitch is the place to be.
Erlandsson's final conclusion states that in the last ten years, people who played video games have changed in their reluctance to declare themselves gamers. While at the beginning of his research in 2008, his test subjects stated that they do not like to reveal to play video games, in 2018 they did not care that others would consider this to be weird. This shows, on the one hand, that stigmata have persisted but, on the other hand, that it has become easier to talk about gaming interests in the public. Gaming has found its way into popular culture. The Guardian, for example, lists in its section for culture next to books, music, TV and Radio, Art and design, film, also news for games. This progression is not surprising. The term hegemony in cultural studies states that “popular culture is struggle and negotiation between the interest of dominant groups and the interests of subordinate groups” (Storey 4). In this context, people who play video games were, and still are, a subordinate group that is in the process of establishing itself in Western popular culture.
In the Eastern civilization, video game culture already has a much better standing. For example, the Olympic Council of Asia agreed that Esports is going to be a part of the Asian games 2022, which is still unimaginable in Europe (Graham). One can see that the powers of hegemony are at work when the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, states that video games will not be Olympic as long as he is in office. Without going too deep into the hard-fought discussion of the recognition of Esports as a sport, Bach's argumentation is strongly influenced by the stigmata I depicted earlier (Au). This conflict of acknowledgement between popular culture and the gamer's subculture is a field in which hegemony is at stake (Storey 4). Culture is always a dialectical process. On the one hand, gaming as popular culture is structurally pushed by profit-orientated industries. On the other hand, the gaming community wants to be acknowledged by the popular culture, for example, by trying to become Olympic. Hebdige adds that subcultures are also bound to that process (85-86). It is the media that spreads certain images of subordinate groups. At the same time, these images refer back to the lives of individuals in these groups, framed in the ideological discourse. Subcultures, therefore, are “representations of representations” (86) that are constructed by external ascriptions, for example, through the media, and also internal ascriptions, through internal communication. In order to find out if there is a gaming subculture, both must be analysed.
This paper aims to find out why many people refuse to identify as a gamer publicly. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate how the gaming community is structured, where the dominant culture positions it and how members themselves perceive their social role. This paper starts off to theoretically examine how social groups work by using subcultural theories, which include Ken Gelder's six criteria of subcultures, to lay the groundwork for better understanding the video game culture and how one can approach it (3). As stated in the very beginning, the community that plays video games is enormously large. That is why a closer look will be taken on the term gamer, to comprehend to whom it refers. The central task of this paper lies in the two-part analysis. Firstly, supported by the evaluations of the mainstream press, the external perspective from the dominant culture on the social group of gamers is being captured and discussed. Secondly, an examination of internal communication on the online gaming platform Twitch shall gain insight into the mindset of a gamer which is subsequently interpreted. Finally, this study contrasts the results of both perspectives and evaluates them to one conclusion.
Level 2: Cultural Turbulence
“Culture is a notoriously ambiguous concept” (Hebdige 5) and is used quite frequently in different situations, every day. It can refer to any human image or activity like food culture, sports culture, art culture, drug culture, knowledge culture, and uncountable more. Aleida Assmann names six different concepts of culture, divided into two groups depending on the relation to value judgements (12-16). Culture as upgrading cultivation, a geographical or political distinction, or as an all-embracing term for everything that is done by humans, does not include value judgements. The concept of high culture, civilization, or the critical perspective of the Frankfurt School, in contrast, provides value judgements. Cultural studies operates with excluding value judgements (Assmann 12-16). For instance, British cultural studies, as the term suggests, is taking a British, or at least a Western, European perspective on culture that differs from other geographical locations. Video game culture has, as mentioned earlier, a different social tanding in Western society than, for example, in Asian society, which demands a different perspective. Also, culture is not a selection of indispensable “texts”, “it pays attention to the practices and processes of making meanings with and from the ‘text' we encounter in our everyday lives” (Storey 3). Cultural studies, therefore, does not set up a canon of “text” which gives access to culture. Instead, culture is seen as everything that is connected to the actions of humans. Consequently, cultural studies does not distinguish between “good” and “bad”, or in other words, “high” and “low” culture. However, culture is also not objective, on the contrary, ‘texts' that make culture are always “multi-accentual” (Volosinov et al. 23), and can therefore mean something different from individual to individual. This implies that everybody constructs meaning based on their own perspective, which inevitably results in a conflict of the “right” way to live. Cultural studies' main interest lies in this conflict of power and culture. That is why popular culture is the main subject of investigation in cultural studies.
2.1 Intracultural Boundaries
Where there is culture, there is also a chance for possible subcultures. Even though there is not a generally agreed definition, subcultures can be described as subordinate systems that exist within a bigger system. They unite people of common interests and activities or regional affiliation. For instance, a community that lives in a specific geographic region within a larger whole, like a territory in a country, can be classified as a subculture as well as sports clubs which set up their leadership system for a selected group of people in a society. These examples of subcultures, however, take place within the dominant system, and must therefore be distinguished from other forms of subcultures that try to set themselves apart from the broader culture. So-called countercultures come to be through the hegemonic conflict between small groups and the mainstream culture. Hebdige calls this conflict a “crime against natural order” (Hebdige 77). His subcultural theory states that especially youth coming from the working class with everyday difficulties in the mainstream culture are likely to join subcultures. They want to escape the power gap which their parents underlie. Therefore, specific practices and styles are being developed which carry their secret identity. At some point, the media encounters the subcultural styles and report about those practising it. In that way, the surrounding society creates narratives from long- established members and for new members of the subculture (Gelder 2). All subcultures carry such narratives. They can have different effects, but they are never neutral, and often spread moral panic. Over time, subcultures expand and slowly find their way into the mainstream. Then, the subculture becomes yet another commercial product of the masses, and the media takes the subculture's integrity. At the point when subcultures lose their rebellious nature, balanced hegemony is restored.
Thus, the dominant culture has certain pictures of how members of a subculture ought to be. These perceived thoughts, opinions, or beliefs about social groups are called stereotypes which help people categorize groups of people through their knowledge and experiences about those groups (Corrigan and Rao 464). Even though other terms like prejudice and stigma are often used as synonyms, they mean different things. Stereotypes are mostly created by the broader society and are not necessarily negative. Any individual of society has their own knowledge about those stereotypes because everyone usually makes their own experiences with the affected social groups. That means not everyone believes them to be true. However, the people who do believe in those stereotypes often develop a negative attitude towards those groups and show emotional reactions like fear towards them. Then it becomes a prejudice (Corrigan and Rao 465). Sometimes, it just stays a negative feeling with no considerable consequences. Still, there are many examples of social groups that are being discriminated against because of prejudices. In that case, a prejudice becomes a stigma (Corrigan and Rao 465).
Hebdige notices that all subcultures share striking attitudes of consumption and a stringent refusal of certain types of consumption. Through these rituals, members of a subculture make their secret identity visible. Only those who also understand the hidden meanings of these rituals can see this identity. Hebdige compares this procedure with Claude Lévi-Strauss' term of bricolage. Gamers use bricolage in many different forms to identify as such. In the real world, as explained earlier, gamers rarely identify themselves as such and if they do, only modestly. Some, for example, wear shirts that carry images, or inscriptions whose meanings can only be understood if one is a gamer. A shirt print like “stay awhile and listen” for example, would not attract much interest to the mainstream. For most gamers, however, it refers to a famous quote from the classical video game Diablo. The quote comes from a character in the game called Deckard Cain, who is leading the player through the game. To get the information that is necessary to come further in the game, it is necessary to talk to him, as he will always start the conversation with the quoted phrase (La Cruz). People who wear such a shirt therefore almost want other gamers to communicate with them.
Due to the anonymity on the internet, it is rather difficult to identify oneself through the style of one's appearance. Instead, people have found more textual forms of bricolage to identify as gamers. Most platforms on the internet require registration before getting access to them. Therefore, every user gets to choose a name, a pseudonym that is “the most salient aspect of users' virtual identities” (Subrahmanyam and Smahel 64) which is also commonly used as bricolage. Yet again, “AWPMadara”2 a possible name on an online discussion board, would appear to the mainstream as a word of randomly composed letters. However, the user has hidden two fragments of his or her subcultural membership. One fragment is “AWP” which refers to a weapon in the shooting game Counter-Strike. The other fragment “Madara” refers to a character in the anime series Naruto. With this name, the user states that he or she has an affiliation to the video game culture and the comic culture which is, by the way, a common combination called ACG subculture, standing for “Anime, Comics and Games”. Additionally, on some platforms, online users can choose a profile avatar that represents their identity more detailed than a mere name. Often, however, nicknames on the internet are not encoded with hidden symbols that can be analysed quickly, and for most cases, they contain no remarkable meaning at all. The style, as Hebdige calls it, therefore, cannot be analysed in the gaming culture that easily. That is why it is necessary to have a broader understanding of the term style.
Ferdinand de Saussure's sign theory states that any sign consists of a signifier, a linguistic vehicle, and a signified, the meaning of that vehicle. The relation of both reveals an unequivocal meaning of the sign because the signifier refers “unanimously to a fixed number of signifieds” (Hebdige 108). Hebdige argues that this theory cannot be transferred to the punk subculture, which used signs entirely randomly. The contemporary gaming culture, which communicates through online chats with uncountable combinations of symbols, behaves similarly. An excellent example of this is the controversial usage of emoticons on the streaming platform Twitch. The platform provides the viewer with many different symbols that are meant to support the relation between streamer and viewer. One of the most used emoticons is called “TriHard”. It depicts the smiling African-American streamer called “TryHex” who became famous on Twitch because he was trying very hard at different video games in his streams. In this context, Twitch added a picture to the list of usable emoticons, to provide the viewers with a symbol that can be used when a streamer is extraordinarily focused (“TriHard”). Recently, however, some viewers distorted the meaning of this emoticon to write comments with racist intentions against African-Americans (Miceli). There are many other emoticons on Twitch that are not inherently racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminating, still, many are perverted. This shows that language can be an “active force” (Hebdige 109) which never comes to a stop. Although there must not be an overall agreement inside a subculture, a group can only exist if all members speak the same “language”. Since “whenever a sign is present, ideology is present too” (Volosinov et al. 10), a common language gives insight into the ideology of a group. Therefore, the communication between gamers is one of the most essential aspects to describe their internal unity.
2.2 Characteristics of Subcultures
After summing up what subcultures in general are and how one can approach gamers, it is important to define what sets them apart from other social groups. Therefore, indications of subcultures are summed up in the following. Subcultures are vague networks with loose memberships and no leaders. Anyone who feels as if they belong to a subculture can identify as a member and participate (Haenfler 16). The internet is, therefore, an ideal place for subcultures because, due to online anonymity, nobody can be excluded because of their background. The participation, however, can enormously differ between members of the same subculture. Some members may want to escape society or their family and firmly commit themselves to their subculture. Others, however, only participate as a pastime (Hebdige 113). Therefore, just as in dominant cultures, hierarchies occur that divide authentic from unauthentic members. Those who participate more intensively in the practices and strongly hold on to the values of the subculture stand above those who do not. Great differences between a subculture and a dominant culture, as well as within one subculture, are created through specialized vocabulary. Those who understand and frequently use vocabulary that is only used and understood in the subculture are automatically more authentic members (Buckner et al.).
Furthermore, subcultures are commonly marginalised. As mentioned earlier, it is very often not clear if a subculture was ostracised because its members did not fit the norms of the dominant culture, or if a subculture chose to be marginalised. As a result, subcultures show forms of resistance against the dominant culture. J. P. Williams, therefore, distinguishes between three different dimensions of resistance. Firstly, depending on the willingness of the subculture, their resistance can be active or passive. Secondly, depending on the scale, it can target the dominant group on a micro or a macro level, which means either on smaller personal or a more general political level. Thirdly, the author distinguishes between overt and covert resistance, depending on the dominant culture's awareness of the resistance. One of the most significant indicators for subcultures certainly is the shared identity. Even though members of any social group feel a certain affiliation towards the other members, subcultures, describe a strong bond between each other that comes close to family (Buckner et al.).
In addition, Ken Gelder has worked out six criteria that all subcultures share (Gelder 3-4). These criteria can help systematically analyse cultural texts. First, he states that subcultures are understood and evaluated to have a negative relation to labour and work. These ascriptions, like “parasitic” or “criminal” towards a subculture, come rather from the dominant culture than from the subculture itself. Secondly, he states that subcultures have an ambivalent relation to class. Additionally, subcultures associate with territories where they usually meet, instead of with personal property. Furthermore, the author argues that members of subcultures move away from home and look for forms of belonging outside their family. Also, they are closely tied to forms of excess. Finally, participants refuse the banalities of ordinary life by rejecting massification.
What else could gaming be than a subculture? To be thorough, some alternatives must, at least shortly, be presented. A counterculture, for instance, is quite similar to a subculture. It means a marginalised social group whose norms and beliefs strongly differ from the dominant culture. The difference, however, is that countercultures are “deliberately opposed to certain aspects of the larger culture” (Zellner 7). Zellner argues that the Amish in America are living on the margin beside the dominant culture and are therefore a subculture. The Ku Klux Klan, on the other hand, has a fundamental conflict with the dominant culture so that it cannot coexist peacefully and is thus a counterculture. A peer-group, less radical, is also a social group of people with the same interest, however, just like youth culture, it highlights that members are approximately the same age and it is limited to the youth. Even though especially youths are likely to get in contact with subcultures, they are not limited to that age. Many of them even stay in a subculture for their whole lives. Subculture also differs from the term scene, which is much more frequently used today. Scenes are social constructs that are less binding than subcultures and allow for switching between groups more generously. Scenes are stronger connected to certain locales where they take place than subcultures (Leach and Haunss 265). Neo tribes are similar. Members are sometimes described as nomads in postmodern times because memberships are only temporal and bound to a lifestyle in a certain territory (Hitzler et al.). However, all those different terms, although they primarily mean something different, can never be distinguished from each other completely.
The latter terms have recently become more popular because theorists of postsubculture state that globalization has made culture a commercial product. As a result, anybody can choose from a whole range of subcultural practices that can therefore hardly be distinguished from the mainstream. However, these thoughts reduce people and especially the youth to the role of a passive consumer. Post-subculturalists, therefore, underestimate the authentic identification processes the youth goes through and thus fail to recognize that “participants both resist and uphold mainstream culture and politics through their participation” (Buckner et al.).
Level 3: Concerning Gamers
3.1 Gaming Stereotypes
Before analysing gamers, it is necessary to define what exactly a gamer is. Video games have gained tremendous importance in popular culture. Nearly everybody all over the world has come in contact with them. There are still lots of stereotypes about video games, e.g. that gaming is an Asian phenomenon. The analytics of Newzoo shows that the Asian market is the fastest-growing one and that, with 1.5 billion people who play video games, it also has the highest absolute proportion. Still, considering the amount of around 4.5 billion citizens, only a third of the Asian population plays video games. In comparison, in Latin America, with approximately 500 million citizens, 259 million people play video games, which is more than half of the population. This shows that video games have found their way to the mainstream, not just in Asia.
Furthermore, common notions of people playing video games refer to “isolated, pale-skinned teenage boys hunched forward on a sofa in some dark basement space, obviously mashing buttons” (D. Williams 2). With recent analytics, these old stereotypes can easily be dismantled. Because video games have found their way into the mainstream on every continent on this planet, people who play video games cannot be reduced to be pale-skinned. Playing video games is a practice dominated by the middle class, although the lower and the higher levels stay just a little behind (“2020 Global Games Market Report”). Gaming, therefore, is a practice that takes place in any social class, and there is no evidence that it is bound to ethical origin. African- Americans and Latinx3 overall play even more than white people (Lenhart et al.).
Additionally, the cited image of gamers refers to a person that is playing isolated on a computer or a console because only those devices are limited to isolated basements. Even though the computer still is one of the most popular platforms4 for gaming, the mobile market has become more and more important. Newzoo estimates that in 2020 the revenue of mobile games will account for half the global video game market. That means that gaming does also take place on a large scale outside of one's home.
Also, only a few video games these days are singleplayer games that are consumed alone at home. In many games, it is even necessary to cooperate with other people on the internet, or even in real life. Moreover, video games are not only consumed by teenagers. The average age of people playing video games is 33 years which means that playing video games is not just a youth activity (“2019 Essential Facts: About the Computer and Video Game Industry”).
Finally, one of the most prevalent stereotypes is that playing video games is a mainly male activity. Recent analytics, however, have shown that females are, with 47% of all players, similarly interested in video games as males.
3.2 Gamer vs. Video Game Player
One might think that gaming, therefore, is an activity that everybody engages in equally and that the stereotypes are unrealistic. However, results of research that tried to find out if gaming stereotypes were still fitting, enormously varied. These variations can be explained due to different interpretations of the term gamer that were used in various research. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a gamer as “someone who likes playing video games”. That is why many studies include anyone who plays video games regularly. The time spent with a video game is mostly not essential for the researchers, which means that people who occasionally play Tetris on their smartphone to bridge the time during a bus ride are lumped together with people who earn money by playing video games many hours a day. However, is everybody who rings a cowbell a musician? Is everybody who toasts bread a chef? That leaves the difficult question: Who then is a gamer? Different ways have been found to distinguish casuals from true gamers 5. The definition of a gamer is controversial and an emotionally loaded discussion. That is why judgemental termini like true gamers should be avoided. Paaßen et al. therefore use the distinction between video game players and gamers, which will be used in the following. Some scholars like Middelberg; Yee also divide gamers into three groups, which will not be pursued in this paper because analyses have evaluated the significance of a two-group solution (Ip and Jacobs).
The first approach used by Ip and Jacobs separates casual video game players from gamers through their knowledge about video games, their habits of playing video games, and their habits of buying video games. Therefore, they developed 15 variables and used them in practice to find out which of them were especially significant. For “knowledge and attitudes”, especially the knowledge about the gaming industry and the hunger for gaming-relevant information were evaluated to be strong indicators for dedicated gamers. Less meaningful was the willingness to pay for video games, and the age people first started playing video games. A special case was the indicator of the creative process of modifying video games because it was evaluated to be a variable that only the extreme of the scale would show any signs of. In the category “playing habits” they found out that the effort of frequently playing over long periods of time and competition against other human players are not as strong indicators for dedicated gamers as they are often thought to be. More significant are discussions about games in forums or with friends and the attitude to play games for the exhilaration of defeating a game. In the category “buying habits”, the need to differentiate from the mainstream was the most significant indicator to distinguish video game players from gamers.
Vermeulen et al. used another approach. They defined genres of video games that decide whether one is a video game player or a gamer. Therefore, shooters, fighting, action-adventure, sports, racing, strategy, survival horror, roleplaying and MMO6 games were sorted as genres of gamers. In contrast, platform, adventure, simulation, party, serious, classic and casual games were seen as genres that video game players preferred. The narrowing of video game genres may be very helpful, however, the selection with an exclusive focus on genres is questionable because those who are defined as genres for gamers are also the most played genres. Analytics have shown that more video game players than gamers exist which means “core genres” must not be understood as genres that are only played by “core gamers”, but rather as genres in which they are more likely to find.
As a third approach, Juul, instead of excluding whole genres, defined certain design elements in video games that can differ casual games from hard-core games. His first element is the fiction of a game. He argues that gamers prefer grim fiction like war zones which are challenging to overcome. Video game players, on the contrary, prefer optimistic fiction that causes good mood. Secondly, Juul states that gamers prefer great difficulty in video games. Furthermore, the author describes that gamers play video games that have low usability and no strong visual rewards for the player's achievements. Finally, he adds that gamers can be distinguished from video game players through their time investment. Gamers allow fewer interruptions while playing a video game. Video game players can easily interrupt or turn off their game if they want to. Gamers have to commit themselves to a game for a certain amount of time. For example, a round of League of Legends takes between 20 and 40 minutes during which gamers, just like a football player in a match, cannot pause or quit.
Paaßen et al. give a final distinction based on skill in video games which was rarely directly studied because of the problematic comparability. Within one game, it might be possible to compare the skill level between video game players and gamers quite well. Many popular games even have rankings that have become more complex than simple high score charts. There are sophisticated leagues where gamers can compete against each other. Gamers who usually are on higher ranks, therefore have a stronger desire to get better to reach better positions. Between games, however, the skill can hardly be compared because all games have their difficulties. In general, it is to say that gamers have higher aspirations and therefore want to improve. That is why gamers are typically more skilled than video game players.
3.3 A Gamer's Identity
Many aspects concerning what gamers are like have been named, and many more could be found. With them, even more detailed groups of gamers can be defined. Newzoo, therefore, names different gaming personas that can also determine whether one is a gamer or a video game player. For example, there is the “time filler” who plays video games in situations when time has to be filled like in waiting rooms, the “lapsed gamer” who has once liked playing video games but stopped at a certain point in their life, the “hardware enthusiast” who is especially interested in the technical aspect of gaming, the “all-round enthusiast” who tries to keep track of every gaming aspect, and many more could be found.
All these aspects show that it is nearly impossible to say who is a gamer and who is not. Regarding all the presented approaches, some interesting tendencies can still be concluded. A gamer may in general play video games for a more extended period but does not become one through the invested time with video games itself. It is how one is occupied with video games. A person can even be a gamer without playing video games for a single minute. As Ip and Jacobs found out, gamers want to get and share gaming-based information. Therefore, they socialize with friends or in online forums. This helps them stay up-to-date with what is necessary to participate in the gaming discourse. That also explains Paaßen's results. Socializing with other gamers helps gamers get to know special tricks in video games that help improve their gaming skills. This all means that the term gamer is not a title that somebody can obtain or a privilege that one must acquire through gaming achievements, deep gaming-based knowledge, or high time investment. Instead, being a gamer is an identity, which is supported by Middelberg's statement that a gamer is somebody who likes to call himself one.
This approach leaves a much smaller group of people. Only about 22% of young adults between the age of 18 and 29 would call themselves a gamer, although 67% play video games (M. Duggan 6). Interestingly, regarding this group of people who identify as gamers, some of the stereotypes that have been dismantled for video game players at the beginning of this chapter apply again. For example, the representation of dedicated gamers is much more significant among the group of teenagers and young adults. Only five percent of people over the age of 50 who play video games identify as gamers.
Furthermore, the stereotype of white gamers is very likely to be true because popular representations are, with few exceptions, mostly white (D. Williams et al.). For example, in the League of Legends world championships finale in 2019, there was not a single Black Esports athlete among the 24 competing teams of five players each. Mostly, the origin of those athletes is Asian, which explains the stereotype of Asian gaming dominance. Also, other popular media that concern gaming are led by white men. For example, in YouTube gaming videos and Twitch gaming live streams, people of colour are strongly underrepresented and fight for recognition. Moreover, by looking at the group of people who identify as gamers, the stereotype of a male- dominated gaming community applies. While 15% of male video game players identify as gamers, women are with six percent less than half as likely to do the same. Some popular gamers have commented on this problem online and see the problem in the whole gaming industry: “Video games are created by men for men” (Maddox 0:17). For them, there are too few female main characters, and those who exist are mostly hyper-sexualized. Paaßen even concludes that “feminine identity is incongruent with the gamer identity” (430). This identity conflict consequently ensures that hardly any woman is publicly performing her gaming identity. Overall, it is to say that gaming is an identity which must be developed. Even though anyone can freely identify as a gamer, certain obstacles make it challenging to do so.
Level 4: The Role of the Mainstream Media
4.1 Approaching the Media
After theoretically approaching the gaming community and what makes it unique, a further look at the stigmatization that creates the stereotypes in the society must be taken. Why do people identify as gamers? Because they think that they fit the criteria which define a gamer. The gaming community itself does not set these criteria. It is the established culture like the print media that has the power through hegemony to characterize what a gamer looks like. If dominant groups of the society publicly put subordinate groups into categories by discrediting them with specific attributes that lead to discrimination, it is stigmatisation (Corrigan and Rao 465). Different to stigmata that are linked to someone's external characteristics like overweight which is often connected to lazy persons, personality traits and traits like particular political views, or queer sexuality cannot be seen at first sight. To avoid being discredited, these stigmata are being hidden. That is also why many people do not publicly call themselves gamers because they fear to be linked with old prejudices that still stick with the gaming culture. Goepfert et al. have emphasized the power of the media when it comes to stigmatization. They state that the media has a strong influence on the evolution of the establishment of gaming by breaking down stereotypes, by integrating gaming-based topics into mainstream areas, or by an accepting attribution instead of a discrediting one.
To understand the mainstream culture's attitude towards gaming, 85 articles from print media have been analysed and categorized.7 Articles which have been published in the peak phase of video game criticism at the beginning of this millennium may have more potential of drastically stigmatising material. Nevertheless, in the interest of getting insight into the current situation, which this paper seeks to obtain, outdated conditions must be avoided. The last two years have been especially decisive for the gaming culture. Since 2018 the consequences of feminist movements like #Metoo also meant an increasing revelation of discrimination because of sex and gender in video games (Liao).
Furthermore, the accumulation of terroristic assaults that have been associated with video games, of Christchurch in New Zeeland, El Paso in the US, and Halle in Germany, had an impact on the development of gaming culture. Therefore, only articles that have been published in the last two years are seen as relevant and as more significant the newer they are. Also, to avoid a biased picture, it is necessary to look for many different perspectives because every printed medium has its readership of special interests and attitudes. For example, printed media is often categorized by their political orientation. Therefore, conservative papers like the Daily Telegraph, centreleft papers like The Guardian, as well as liberal non-partisan papers like “The Independent” are included. Broadsheet newspapers, tabloid newspapers, and freesheet newspapers have also been observed. Even though tabloid newspapers are known for not being a reliable source of information, these are especially interesting in this context because they mostly have a high amount of print products that reach many people and therefore have much influence on the mainstream culture. Furthermore, the analysis of newspaper articles is rather interested in the attitude towards gaming, not in the accuracy of the content. The selected articles stem from publications all over the English-speaking world, though the majority is from the UK and the US.
4.2 Analysing the Press
First of all, it is relevant in which topics gaming is concerned in the print media. The analysed articles approach gaming on different levels. Therefore, they can be categorized by the main topic they concern. As listed in table 1, every article has been put into one of the five categories: “economy”, “health”, “gaming”, “social”, and “technology”. The group “economy” contains all articles that mainly issue gaming as a new form of market. “Health” includes all articles that concern the consequences of gaming as a practice. In the category “gaming”, video games and their content become the main topic itself, like in video game reviews. If the content concerns the situation and the consequences of video games, or of the video game industry on the society, it is in the category “social”. Finally, the articles in the category “technology” are all about technical aspects of gaming, like computer hardware. Table 2 shows that the category “social” has, with an amount of 33, significantly more articles than the others. Topics that concern gaming content itself are clearly behind, with only 15 articles published. This leads to the conclusion that gaming has not completely established itself in the mainstream culture and that it is still in a social conflict that needs to be discussed.
In the last chapter, the distinction between the terms gamer and video game player has been presented. People who play video games are too heterogeneous to lump them all together, which is why it is interesting to find out how the mainstream media describes gamers and how they distinguish them from video game players. Therefore, every article has been analysed according to the context in which the author uses the word “gamer” and how they attribute gamers. An assessment system was created to make the articles comparable. Depending on how differentiated gamers are described, the articles are sorted into groups of “low”, “low-medium”, “medium”, “medium-high”, or “high”. Articles that are sorted “low” have no distinction at all and those sorted “high” include an unambiguous definition of gamers. Due to different intensities between descriptions, there is a distinction between “strong indicators” and “weak indicators”. Latter ones were distinctions based on time investment, money, age, genre, platform and gender. Even though these indicators narrow down the term gamer, they were earlier shown to be consequences of stereotypes. “Strong indicators” are distinctions based on Ip and Jacobs' term of knowledge and social interaction, Juul's design elements, Paaßen's definition of skill, and different terminologies like gamers and video game players. The appearance of a “weak indicator” in an article means that it steps up one category. The occurrence of a “strong indicator” means an upgrade of two categories. For example, Christmann states that she does not identify as a gamer and that playing on a mobile does not mean gaming (D1). Therefore, she distinguishes gamers from non-gamers through the “strong” indicator of “identification” and the “weak” indicator of “platform” which means that the article is sorted into medium-high.
Table 3 shows that one-third of the analysed articles do not differ between gamers and video game players at all, while the other two-thirds do. The majority of texts, therefore, mentions at least a minor definition of gamers that deviates from mere persons who sometimes play video games. Considering that articles sorted “low- medium” only have one “weak” distinction, only those sorted “medium” and higher can be seen as significant. Therefore, 29 out of 85 articles show a substantial and conscious distinction between gamers and video game players, among which 14 even show a medium-high and high level of differentiation. That only three articles have a “high” distinction is not surprising because, just like academic scholars, most newspaper authors also select only one “strong” distinction and sometimes add a “weak” differentiation aspect (Ip and Jacobs; Paaßen et al.; Vermeulen et al.). Combinations of more than one “strong” element only make sense in particular topics like Wong Kim Hoh's article introducing a self-proclaimed gamer and the features that make him one (A1). Altogether, it can be concluded that the mainstream press is generalizing in all topics and mostly does not distinguish between gamers and video game players. However, many authors have begun to integrate distinctions on a medium level.
As stated earlier, the inclusion of subcultures into the mainstream culture is a process. To see in what state this process is, the text's attitude towards gaming and gamers needs to be analysed. A newspaper article wants to inform and convince the reader of its content. That is why the message and position of newspaper articles are crucial in a cultural phase of integration. If the mainstream press, for example, writes positively about gaming, the chance that consumers have positive attitudes towards gaming in the future is higher, and the cultural integration into mainstream culture is accelerated. If gaming is mostly seen negatively, the process of integration is slowed down. Therefore, all the text's messages have been summed up and have been graded, similarly to the distinction of gamers, in five categories. Articles which disseminate negative messages, like Amy A. Murphy's, which sees gaming as an immediate health threat, are sorted into the category “negative” (19). On the contrary, those who cover gaming in a favourable way, like Steve Rotstein's text that sees gamers as socially advantageous, are sorted into the category “positive” (A1). Many texts are neither and therefore seen as “neutral”. However, many attitudes, like Liz Clarke's who describes gaming as toxic but gives hope that it will get better, are in between the three categories and are therefore sorted into either “negative-neutral” or “neutral-positive”.
The “level of attitude” evaluation in table 4 shows a balanced relation. With an amount of 17, there are nearly as many articles that are sorted “negative” as the “positive” ones with 13 incidents. Also, the number of “neutral” articles are, with an amount of 16, perfectly in between both margins. Since the intermediate categories “negative-neutral” and “neutral-positive” still carry a certain attitude towards gaming, it makes sense to combine them with the margin categories, rather than with the “neutral”. It then becomes visible that more articles are being written that try to influence the reader's opinion, be it towards a positive attitude or a negative one. Neutral articles that concern gaming without being valuing are, with a proportion of only one fifth, inferior to the valuing ones. This shows that the mainstream media overall is not biased in any direction. From both sides, there is a strong influence that is either trying to warn the readership of gaming or trying to establish it. This underlines the prior results that gaming is a cultural conflict of finding its place in the mainstream culture. Established activities like traditional sports, theatre, or even film have a much higher proportion of neutral articles because many are reports, critics, or reviews that do not problematize the activity itself.
In contrast, the appearance of gaming in solely gaming-related articles is, as table 2 shows, relatively low compared to all others. That is why it is useful to have a closer look at the particular topic categories separately. Thereby, it must be mentioned that, due to the smaller amounts of articles in each of the topic categories, the statistics become less significant, which leads to the need of having a closer qualitative look on the textual basis.
The first category to be analysed is the topic “technology” since it is the smallest one, containing only eight articles. This is because most articles that count to “technology” are texts that mainly address people who are interested in video games, which is already made clear by the titles. When the Daily Tribune writes about the “Intel 10th Gen”, T3 about the “Samsung Q80T”, and WebUser “For True Gamers iyama G-master GB2760HSU-B1”, they use specialist terms that only those who are interested in hardware can understand. That explains why this category has a relatively strong distinction between gamers and video game players (table 3). Casual video game players are being distinguished from “true gamers” (“The Best Car for 'True Gamers'”) who identify as such and show it to others by having special gaming equipment or even a car that underlines their identity. Also, it is plain to see that gamers in this category are often described as people who want to become better in the games they are playing, and reduced to specific gaming platforms when they want gamers to buy a product. However, due to the permanent reduction of the hardware enthusiast by the media, no article was sorted into the distinction category “high” (table 4). Therefore, the attitude towards gaming is “neutral” to “positive” because gaming is seen as an everyday activity which should be more intensely practised.
Under the topic of “economy”, articles distinguish the term gamer less strongly (table 3). Mostly, a gamer in this category is a professional who somehow earns money with gaming, for example as “pro athlete” (N. Smith A1). The attitude towards gaming, however, is “neutral” to “positive”, which can be easily explained. Gaming is seen as a regular business sector that is booming, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a promising field, for example, to acquire a taste for STEM8 professions and to earn money (DuBose; Kharif; Kim Hoh).
Unsurprisingly, articles that cover gaming content itself are “neutral” to “positive” towards gaming and strongly distinguish between gamers and video game players (table 4). The articles that specially cover Esports or online streaming are the ones which have less distinct definitions of gamers. For example, Laurence Coulton describes an “e-sport athlete: in short gamer”, for Kellen Browning a gamer is someone who can earn much money with gaming, and in Marc Anthony Reyes' article an Esports athlete is as much a gamer as anyone who plays video games (Coulton; Browning; Reyes). Opposed to that, articles that cover content from video games have more profound interpretations of gamers. For instance, Emre Basaran describes gamers as people who patiently wait for games, like to play and talk about gaming with others, and “look forward to their take on a dystopia” (1). He thereby combines the indicators of knowledge, social interaction, and the design element of dystopia to describe a gamer. Combined with Samantha Christmann's thought of a gaming identity that depends on how someone plays, and Ian Oxborrow's understanding of gaming as a time-intensive struggle to get better in a game, nearly all distinctions between gamers and video game players come together. Most authors' own commitment to gaming contributes to the neutral attitude towards gaming. Others, like Trapunski, who argue, contrary to many negative critics, that video games are a sort of art feel the need to publicly defend their often criticised activity which leaves a positive attitude towards gaming in their texts.
The two topics with the most proportion of articles show a different tendency. In the category “health”, articles tend to use the word gamers for anybody who is playing video games (table 3). If gamers are described at all, articles define them as people who “spent excessive time playing video games [and have] difficulty disengaging from them” (D. Duggan). Considering the general attitude of the texts in this sector, it becomes clear why authors reduce gamers to a high investment of time and low tolerance of interruptions in video games. Most articles that cover gaming from the health perspective have a negative attitude towards gaming. This is because of the criticism of unhealthy gaming which has always been there and persists. With a few exceptions, dealing with that topic is nearly impossible without taking a position. Mostly, the press takes a stance like Nadeem Badshah, M. Murphy, or Mandy Squires who only list risks of gaming. On the contrary, some authors like Shannon Green reply to these accusations by completely denying those risks (A15). Overall, the category “health” contains much controversy, which leads to a consistent picture of gamers who exaggerate their gaming activity.
Similarly to the category “health”, but even more significant is the category “social”. Since “social” comprises all articles that cover the interaction and relation between society and the gaming culture, it is not surprising that it is the category with the most articles and therefore, it is also the most significant one (table 2). The level of distinguishing between gamers and video game players is “low” to “medium”. While approximately half of the texts do not define gamers, those who do mostly distinguish gamers based on the level of skill, their need for socialization with the gaming community, and especially gender. For example, Jake Seiner uses the term “elite gamer” to describe professionals, and Keza MacDonald speaks of “organised core gamers”. The attitude towards gaming is split. There are hardly any neutral articles that cover gaming as practice in society. Nearly all of them are taking a position in the controversial debate about the gaming community and industry. Thereby, the negative attitude overweighs. Almost all the texts with an opposing position define gamers as male. It is also striking that the articles that sympathise with gaming also have higher distinctions of gamers who can be any gender, and see gaming as a societal help. In this category, controversial and emotionally charged debates with strong accusations dominate.
It is to note that gaming has found its way into every part of the mainstream press. In the technological and economic fields, gaming has established itself as an inevitable topic, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles that cover gaming content itself frequently appear in the mainstream media and promote gaming culture. Nevertheless, the articles in the section “health” and “social” have more influence on the establishing process into the mainstream culture because firstly, more articles are released in those fields. Secondly, these sections are more likely to address non-gamers, because those articles are closer to the mainstream people's lives than, for example, technological articles that use specialist terms only gamers can understand. In these influential categories, gaming is still very controversial. Especially there, the term gamer is used for any group of people who play video games, and all of them are negatively put under general suspicion.
4.3 Spreading Stereotypes and Prejudices
After showing that gaming has various standings in different thematic sectors, the overall impression of gamers that the media conveys to the outside can be summed up. As earlier described, especially in the sector of “technology”, the picture of the gamer as hardware enthusiast has persisted in the mainstream media. Due to the fact that hardware mostly refers to the computer, other platforms become incompatible with a “true gamer”. Consoles and mobile phones are seen as casual. That means the old stereotype of the gamer who plays at home with his computer has still persisted in the mainstream media. However, this alone is not a negative attribution, and the usually related assumption of socially incapable and lonely gamers has vanished. In all other thematic fields, just the contrary is the case. Spencer Fowler Steen understands gamers especially as connected people with the same activity, Olivia Jenkins recommends parents to join their children in playing video games because it connects them, and Steve Rotstein even thinks that in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, gamers are socially superior because they are used to meeting their friends online. Overall, gamers are seen as a more or less organized group that even has consistent political views, and the gaming industry has much political influence. This is seen when Schofield writes about gamers who take action in the “Black Lives Matter“ debate.
Furthermore, many authors like Laurence Coulton, C. Smith and Judge, and Jake Seiner present Esports similarly to established sports and therefore show gamers as high performers. Also, the word gamers in the articles refer to children, teenagers, and young adults. There is no trace of articles that refer to adults. Kim Abrahams' report, which covers an older woman who still likes skilled gaming, can be seen as an exception. However, it still supports this thesis, as she wants to call attention to the fact that not only youths play video games. These pictures of gamers are not harmful to the social group and cannot be seen as stigmata.
Different to these descriptions of gaming and those who practice it, many articles leave a poor impression of gaming to the reader. First of all, one of the most common attitudes towards gaming is the thought that gamers have an unhealthy lifestyle. The media underlines this strongly. Shaun Noordin specifically recommends gamers to do more fitness training and therefore sees the problem of too little physical activity. Margi Murphy and Amy Murphy do not only share their family name but they also both have the same opinion that gamers drink and eat large quantities of unhealthy products like pizza and energy drinks. That would result in that gamers automatically have a higher body mass index than non-gamers (“Vid Kids Fat Risk”). This is also linked to the shared opinion that gaming is always a time-intensive activity. Badshah alarms that 7,500 Brits seek help against their gaming addiction. Other articles spread research that even ten percent of gamers are affected by video game addiction. The peak of this accusation of bad health, however, is that “popular teen electronic games are creating a generation of problem gamblers” (Squires). This refers to the fact that many video games contain possibilities of micropayments which unlock unique gaming contents. A classic example of micropayments which is mostly used in the articles to show gambling in video games is the problematic of loot boxes9. The authors state that it is the inevitable social pressure to have rare objects in a game which give gamers reputation that makes them spending money. Anyone who gets in touch with it is a potential future gambling addict (“Gamers Becoming Gamblers”). That creates the feeling that anyone who comes in contact with any video game is a potential future gaming addict.
At the beginning of the millennium, there were fierce debates about video games. One of the most decisive accusations was that video games made people violent. Even though this assumption turned out to be faulty, the press continues to spread similar attitudes. Gaming is still often made responsible for crimes such as terroristic assaults because assassinators, like the shooter from Christchurch, New Zealand, Brenton Tarrant, often turn out to be gamers (Schliebs). That is not surprising, since, as shown, most articles use the term gamer to refer to anyone who plays video games, which makes one-quarter of the worldwide population a gamer, according to Newzoo's analytics. Still, the media holds on to a strong connection between violence in reality and the “bloody theatrics of violent video games” (“Waging War Is Not a Game”), and gamers are often thought to have a right-wing political position (“Video Games and Violence”). Charles Wade-Palmer supports that, when he writes that the publisher of the famous football simulator game “FIFA” had to delete certain goal celebrations in the game because they were connotated with racist meanings like “white power”. However, not only gamers are connected to violence, but also the platforms where they reside. For example, Twitch, like in Lermann's article, is often linked to the violent act from Halle, Germany, in 2019. There, an anti-Semitic assassin streamed how he tried to assault a synagogue and subsequently shot 11 people. Furthermore, Keller describes online platforms as “hunting grounds” for sexual predators where criminal gamers would hang out. Therefore, it is not only scepticism. The media broadly spreads anxiety about the gaming community to their readers.
Finally, gaming is not only accused of fostering physical violence, even more present, it is also primarily reported that gaming has a massive problem with harassment and exclusion. The gaming community is nearly always regarded as dominated by white heterosexual men and all others who do not fit these criteria are not welcome. In Liz Clarke's article, she shows that especially women are being marginalised. The female Esports professionals report that they are being insulted and reduced to their gender online. Jake Seiner goes on and states that it is even worse for non-professional female gamers because they cannot look away from misogynistic comments. He refers to the fact that most online games are based on team cooperation and therefore, on voiced communication. A female gamer, therefore, cannot just stay anonymous. Ruth McKee states that female gamers are reduced to their looks, their skill is disputed, and they even receive death threats. The whole industry is being accused of that, at the latest since 2014 when the so-called “#Gamergate”10 happened. The happenings from back then remain in nearly every article that covers gender equality in gaming (Orr; Seiner; Clarke; “Game's up”; MacDonald; “Champion Canadian Gamer Speaks out over Harassment at Ubisoft Elsewhere”). All those articles show a picture of gaming that has a structural problem, not only against women but also against LGBT people and other minorities. Some authors, like Keza MacDonald even think that nothing is going to change except when women go for a “radical change rather than reformism”.
4.4 Conesquences of Stereotypes and Prejudices
These accusations that are spread by the mainstream press include both stereotypes, e.g. that gamers are addicts, violent or toxic and prejudices like the fear of gamers committing crimes. Although it cannot be proved with the information of this paper that the stereotypes and prejudices lead to discrimination against gamers, Anders Erlandsson's observations presented in the introduction give strong signs for it. It is likely that gamers publicly avoid identifying as such because they feel it would be detrimental. If so, all components of stigma are given. It is to note that the press is not accused of being somehow biased and writing negatively on purpose. All the problems mentioned above in gaming are real, and it is understandable that the press reports about them. Furthermore, as noticed earlier, there are lots of articles in the mainstream media that defend gamers and their culture. The gloomy picture of gaming is less created by what the press writes, but more through what they do not write.
Firstly, as shown in table 2, there are only a few articles that cover gaming itself. That leads to the feeling that gaming as a practice still needs to be established in people's everyday life. Ben Lindbergh's has already problematized that mainstream media has discontinued writing video game reviews instead of expanding it. He concludes that most authors grew up in a time when video games culture already existed, most decision-makers and readers of established mainstream media, however, have not. Gaming content like video game criticism, reports of Esports tournaments, or interviews with prominent gamers still miss out. Secondly, Dawn Chmielewski notices that “there's a ton of little girls who are growing up wanting to become a gamer [...] and there's a huge influence that the females have”. Instead of primarily demonstrating that females are being suppressed by the gaming community, more successful female gamers could be presented in the media, so that girls will want to identify as gamers.
Moreover, the arbitrary use of the word gamer enforces the perception of being intentionally discriminating. Mostly, articles refer with this term to anyone who is playing video games, in exceptional cases, it only covers those who spend much money, and sometimes, only persons who are excessively playing video games are meant. Only a few understand that being a gamer it is an identity that can hardly be decided for somebody by someone else. The problem is that only those who identify as gamers will be harmed either way, whether they were initially meant in the article or not. For example, when gamers are presented as violent, the group of people playing games in the genre “shooter” are meant, when gamers are shown as “toxic”, those who are especially connected in the community are meant, and when the media speaks about addicted gamers, it refers to those who invest a lot of time and money into a game. In all cases, only those who identify as gamers feel attacked, even if they are neither of the accused. For an appropriate discourse, it would be advantageous if more terminological distinctions would be used.
4.5 The Ambiguity of the Press
It has been shown that there are strong social tensions between the mainstream culture and the gaming culture. But does the media's perspective fit the criteria of a subculture? In general, the press treats gamers as a loose organisation without a leader or a leading system. The media creates an inner hierarchy where gamers are on the top. Also, they are often seen as a marginalised group, for example, in Nadeem Badshah's eyes, who thinks that gamers need help because of their addiction. Furthermore, in the articles, gamers seek resistance against the main culture, for example, when gamers were verbally attacking feminists on the internet under the hashtag “#Gamergate”. It is, therefore, a somewhat active, overt resistance on a macro level because gamers are actively taking action against the values of the main culture in a public way.
For a more precise analysis, Ken Gelder's six criteria of subculture can help. The first category that subcultures often have hostile relations to work fits only partially (Gelder 3). The media often doubts that gaming is a real job. In this perspective, gamers can hardly be working, especially when the word gamer is seen in an excessive way, where they play 15 hours a day (“Video Games and Violence”). Other authors like Laurence Coulton, recognize gaming as a profession, which still portrays professionals at leisure, but also includes their positive attitude towards work. In the media, gamers are seen as persons that do not care about class. When they go online, they leave their real-life personality and try to escape reality (“Gamer: Lack of Escapism Is No Fun”). Therefore, the media's perspective on gamers fit Gelder's second category that gamers have an “ambivalent or negative relation to class” (Gelder 3). Furthermore, gamers are associated with a virtual territory. Twitch and other online chat platforms are repeatedly seen as the places where gamers socialize.
Moreover, the fact that gamers are usually seen as people who meet online makes the association with their property pointless. This is why Ken Gelder's third criterion of “association with territory instead of property” (3) fits. Some authors explicitly state that video games pull gamers away from their family. Whether games can completely replace them is not being said. Still, due to the media's frequent attitude towards gamers as excessive players of video games, it can be argued that the video gaming community assumes the function of the family. Olivia Jenkins urges parents to join the video games of their children which enforces the idea that video games move children away from their families. The fourth criterion of Gelder that gamers “generally come together outside the domestic sphere, away from home” (Gelder 3) still fits only partially since gamers, also in the view of the media, play on their computer at home.
When Harriet Alexander writes that gamers ridicule physical objects like gaming shoes online, she shows that gamers are not interested in material objects. However, many articles see gamers as hardware enthusiasts. Wong Kim Hoh's article conveys that gamers do not only exaggerate their computer in terms of performance, but also in style. Kim Hohs's report shows that a gaming computer must look shiny and colourful. Gamers build their computer individually, and they strongly deviate from an ordinary computer. Under the condition that gamers are persons who play on a PC, the criterion of having “ties to excess and exaggeration” fits. That the last criterion which “casts subcultures in opposition to the banalities of mass cultural forms” (Gelder 3) fits the media's perspective on gamers, has already been shown by stating that gamers are seen to be resisting the mainstream culture.
Finally, it can be concluded that the media's perspective on gamers is unstable. As shown, some views of articles combined result in a perspective that could be defined as a subculture. The attitude of particular writings that show gamers as violent and toxic could even be sorted into the category of a counterculture, since they see gamers as persons who are taking active action to change the central culture. Many others reduce gaming to a culture that is only practised by the youth and therefore fit the criteria of youth culture. This disagreement in the media underlines that gaming is in the middle of cultural conflict.
Level 5: A Perspective from Within
Cultural integration, as mentioned in the beginning, is not a one-sided process, in which the dominant culture allows a subordinate culture to join the mainstream. On the contrary, it is a two-sided process that is also highly influenced by a subculture. After regarding the media's perspective that tries to describe to its readers what gaming is like, in the interest of being thorough, also the view of the affected social group needs to be captured. If a subculture has a robust rebellious consciousness against the dominant culture, it can accelerate the cultural integration process because it calls the dominant culture's attention. While in the beginning, the media maintains a critical view of the subculture, usually over time, they become familiar. Therefore, it is necessary to get information about what it is like to be a part of the gaming culture. How do gamers describe their social group, and what do gamers think about the mainstream culture?
To answer these questions, firstly, it is essential to find gamers that reveal the required information. Because gamers mostly socialize on the internet, many insights from within the gaming culture become easily accessible. For a long time, this socialization mainly happened on special online forums or in chatrooms in video games itself. Both have weaknesses when it comes to the analysis of the gaming culture. Chatrooms in video games often represent only gamers of one particular game and forums are mostly so specific that only a small group of gamers participate in it. With the rise of Twitch and other popular gaming websites, new possibilities of socializing with other gamers in a larger frame appeared.
These big gaming platforms gather all kind of gamers. All genres are included, competitive Esports and cooperative video games occur all the same, which leads to a very heterogeneous community. On the one hand, this is their biggest strength because they managed to create a place where all gaming interests can come together and use the full potential of the gaming community. On the other hand, the community is so big that platforms like Twitch are often uncontrollable and chaotic because the viewers have many different expectations. Many viewers want social contact with other gamers, others just want to inform themselves about a new game, and for lots of people, Twitch is just a form of entertainment. This means, to analyse the gamers' attitude towards the mainstream and towards themselves as a social group, it is crucial to have information from different gaming streams, so that many sorts of gamers that have differentiated ways of consuming gaming streams are included.
Therefore, 40 chats of gaming streams on Twitch have been monitored and recorded for one week.11 Because gaming, as extensively presented, is often thought to be dominated by men, 20 of the chosen streams were broadcasted by women and the other 20 by men. However, to get a comparable insight, it is helpful to have one common topic in all streams. Therefore, one typical game was chosen that all streams broadcasted. The game is called Valorant, which gamers awaited for a very long time. The observation took place in the first week of its release so that many streamers wanted to present it. This game is especially suitable to observe the gaming community because it unites many interests of gamers. The game's extended categorization “Free- to-play-Multiplayer-Ego-Shooter” already shows that it covers a lot of different genres. The term “Free-to-play” stands for a game whose purchase is for free so that the game's purchase price is no obstacle for people to play. However, the game includes several opportunities to spend money on unique content. Furthermore, it is a competitive multiplayer game which is already played in tournaments. That means it is highly based on skill and people want to get better at it by watching streamers who are good at it. The genre “Ego-Shooter” is not enough to describe the game because it sets itself apart from their usual look. Normally, “Ego-shooters” like Counter-Strike are connected to realistic acts of war and is therefore restricted for youth under the age of 18. Valorant however, has a comic-like look and takes place in a fantasy world, which makes it child-friendly. Due to the fact that parents stated that the game is suitable for children from the age of 10, it can be seen that it includes all gamers of every age (Chapman). Valorant therefore, is a game that is designed for nearly everyone interested in video games.
5.1 Analysing the Gaming Community
Analysing online chats is a special issue. Astrid Ensslin states that written discourse in online discussions tends to be very different to spoken language because in written language the time between receiving a message and responding to it is usually higher than in oral conversation, in which a reaction typically comes instantly (16). That often leads to more explicit and more meaningful messages because they are often formulated with more effort. Twitch, however, is different from other interactive websites. Livestreams, which are the content on Twitch, are continually going on. The chat function thereby enables interactive communication with the streamer and other spectators, but to join the relevant discourse, the viewers have to comment immediately. That is why Twitch comments are similar to spontaneous speech. Also, Ensslin adds that computer-mediated discourses are often more emotionally charged than spontaneous speeches from face-to-face because interlocutors cannot use physical body language and vocalization to convey their message (17). Therefore, abbreviations and emoticons are usually being used. Ensslin notes that “the types of paralinguistic features and emotional expressions used in CMC12 tend to be highly context- and channel-specific” (17).
On Twitch, a large amount of these abbreviations and emoticons have been developed, and they are used frequently. For example, the most used sign in the chat that has been observed was “kekw”, an emoticon that shows a man laughing. However, it is not a mere sign that is added to a message to express that it is meant funny. Instead, the emoticon has a very distinctive function. The “kekw” sign is being used only when the message wants to make fun of the streamer. Abbreviations like “kappa”, which marks a sarcastic statement and is on the rank 23 of the most used words in the observed streams, are also not rare. The connotation of these words only becomes apparent to those who often consume Twitch -streams, and the range continually grows. The “kekw” emoticon, for instance, came into being in September 2019 and spectators are expected to know what it means (Know Your Meme). Although many connoted signs are created on Twitch, it is not a language that is limited to the streaming platform. As Alex Magdaleno concludes, the speech variety spoken on Twitch influences and is influenced by the wider gaming community, so that he speaks of a “language of gamers”.
To understand the perspective of gamers, one must evaluate what the term gamer means to the gaming community. The term gamer frequently appears in the chat on Twitch and in many different contexts. First of all, the term seems to be an accepted title of their social group. This becomes obvious, for example, when gamers greet themselves with the words “what is up my gamers!” (I Can Finally Fish! 15:29:16) “any GAMERS in here?” (Hi What the Hells up 16:23:43), or “Hey, gamer!” (Road to 100k 16:04:25). This shows, on the one hand, that gamers try to connect to each other, and, on the other hand, that there are also non-gamers on Twitch. As it can be seen in some comments in the chat, some people on Twitch do not identify as gamers, or even dislike the gaming community (Valorant with Ninja and Friends! 19:24:24; Building My First Minecraft House pt 2 23:55:20). For gamers, therefore, one has only to identify as such to join their social group. Due to the physical absence on the internet, there are only two possibilities to identify as a gamer to others on Twitch. One way is to use the chat. There, one can respond and call oneself a gamer, or write gaming-based messages that directly show others that they belong to this community.
The less obvious alternative is to use the nickname. Some online platforms offer the possibility to create an avatar that represents one's physical body, a picture, or at least a small description of the person behind the avatar. On Twitch, all participants are only present with their mere nickname. As noted at the beginning of this paper, the simple possibility to choose a name opens ways to describe oneself a little. If people write “gamer” into their nickname, all others know that he most likely identifies as such. That over 450 nicknames in the observed stream included the term “gamer” shows that for many people, it is important to show that they are gamers. Moreover, most of them provide more information in their nickname. For example, in the nickname “lolgamer2808” (1v1 Realistic Wagers 22:33:16), the person has hidden the term “lol”, and in the gaming context it refers to the video game League of Legends, of which he or she is possibly a fan. In online chat rooms like that on Twitch, it is not possible to see the characteristics of other participators. Still, even information about one's gender can be given in nicknames. In the name “corathegamergrill” (Crazions' Charity Stream! 18:28:42) for instance, the female name “Cora” and the term “grill”, which is a gaming alteration and stands for “girl”, are included. This person, therefore, has managed to hide personal information that is only available for gamers, those who can decipher it.
5.2 The Gamers' Hierarchy
However, there are also distinctions between gamers, and different terminologies are being used on Twitch. Gamers, for example, sometimes call others a “true gamer” (Gaming and Educating (4) 20:26:32), or in some cases a “real gamer” (Improving Every Single Day 21:21:21). The gamer then becomes a compliment that can be used to describe a person higher in their hierarchy than others. That this hierarchy is quite distinct becomes clear when chat participants ask “how much of a gamer are you?” (Chats Then, Building My First Ever Minecraft House 20:27:21). This means there must be indicators from the perspective of gamers that define whether one is a gamer or not, and what kind of gamer someone is. After analysing the internal communication of gamers on Twitch, the categories from the earlier chapters have proven to be yet again suitable to get insight into the perspective of the gaming community.
One of the more apparent criteria for gamers is the socialization with other gamers. A gamer needs to connect to others so that he can have any position at all in the hierarchy of the gaming community. Therefore, they attract attention to themselves by joining the chat and for example, greeting other gamers. More ambitious gamers continuously try to stay active in the chat, so that they get recognized by other gamers. Especially striking was a gamer called “richgamer29” who welcomed every new member that was coming to the stream (I Can Finally Fish 16:16:31; 16:20:45; 16:38:30). He or she wrote over 80 messages in the chat and kept being recognized in the community. Others are more direct and seek new friendships in the gaming community (Streaming Alot 20:16:57). This shows that, for many gamers, the community is more than just a mere group that share the same interest in video games. In statements like “WE DID IT GAMERS” (Gaming and Educating (3) 16:14:41), it becomes visible that gamers have a strong feeling of unity. In conclusion, gamers find their hobby very social and rate other gamers, amongst other criteria, through their social activity in the community.
Socializing alone, however, does not bring a gamer much further in the hierarchy. It is more of a chance for gamers to prove that they are real gamers and to stay up-to-date. Sometimes persons are even questioned about being real gamers because they do not show accepted indicators (Road to 100k 16:12:32). One of those indicators is knowledge about gaming. This can be anything that has something to do with gaming. Some gamers share their knowledge of hidden content in video games, some share their gaming experience, and others show that they are gamers by quoting video game characters (I Can Finally Fish 17:26:12; Yep Losing Only 18:19:24; Hi What the Hells up 16:29:21). Next to current information, knowledge about old classic games is often valued as incredibly precious and gives prestige (UK's Worst Valorant Streamer 14:48:07). Furthermore, the indicator of knowledge is closely tied to the category of socialization. If a gamer does not share his knowledge, he cannot be recognized as a real gamer. If he or she does not socialise, it is not possible to get new gaming knowledge like, for example, the latest gaming vocabulary (1v1 Realistic Wagers 21:10:22). In turn, one can only really join the gaming discourse by having adequate knowledge.
Knowledge again is closely tied to the equipment. As can be seen in the table of most used words, hardware technology like processors, video cards, monitors, mice, and keyboards are widely discussed. Gamers inform themselves about how to improve their computer and often seek counselling from gamers who have special knowledge. Some professional discussions from experts in the chat can be found (Late Night Eliminating 15:56:58-15:57:17). However, the participants in the chat mostly ask about the equipment of the streamer, so that a gamer cannot be interpreted as an expert in computer technology. Some gamers even call themselves a “tech illiterate” (Valorant Now - WoW Later 19:24:09). Besides being enthusiastic about hardware, other gaming equipments like gaming chairs or mousepads are also discussed a lot. Just like a cyclist who is interested in his bike, shoes, clothes, and other equipment, a gamer also seems to be interested in all the material he or she is working with.
Interestingly, gamers prefer a special “chroma-look”, which means a shiny, colourful and often flashing appearance (Mousesports vs ENCE - BLAST Premier Spring Showdown EU Semi-Finals 16:38:24). Even though video games for all different devices are discussed, the computer seems to have a special privilege. While mobile gamers and console gamers are sometimes talked about in an unfavourable way, the same could not be found for computer gamers (Best Valorant Player 12:50:41; Brap Stacey at Au Reset 01:53:07). This means, people can identify as gamers, whatever device they are using, even though computer gamers seem to be higher in the hierarchy.
Furthermore, the gamers' perspective on the genres of video games is striking. The academic scholars Lotte Vermeulen et al. associated gamers with specific genres, especially with shooter games. Unsurprisingly, Valorant is the most discussed game in the stream because all of them were showing it. Also, other popular shooters like Counter-Strike and Call of Duty were mentioned a lot (Good Morning! 20:33:50; 100T Hiko 17:57:22). Still, there was also an uncountable amount of other games from different genres in the chat that were discussed. For example, Minecraft as an “Openworld” game, Song of Horror as a “Horror-adventure”, or Animal Crossing from the genre “Social simulation” were discussed (Crazions' Charity Stream! 16:00:26-30; Twitch Rivals React Annie! 20:05:46; Back to the Grind! Learning New Agents 23:30:36). That shows that gamers are rarely interested in single games. Instead, they often have an affinity for many different genres. It could be evaluated that within specific genres, there are rivalries between games. For example, in the genre of “Shooter-games”, gamers tend to prefer either Valoran t, Counter-Strike, or Fortnite, and tend to speak derogatory about the other games (T1 Skadoodle Twitch Rivals 60 sec delay 02:48:46; Best Valorant Player 17:35:19-17:37:09; Vitality vs Dignitas - Blast Premier Spring Showdown EU Quarter Final 22:32:04). However, gamers devalue those who regard certain video games as inferior, and call them “insecure gamers” (Gaming and Educating (3) 20:23:08).
As Paaßen et al. noticed, skill in video games is a vital aspect to identify as a gamer. Maybe it is because Valorant is a very competitive video game that gaming skill seems to be the most important aspect in order to be recognized as a higher ranked gamer.Especially when a streamer showed skill in his stream, the chat participants reacted by calling him “gamer” (TSM Wardell 20:15:39), “PRO gamer” (Clover X Keisha Ep.329 17:25:07), or even “god gamer” (100T Hiko 17:55:16). However, for the participants in the chat, it is impossible to show that they are skilled gamers. Those who share their knowledge about gaming skill in a video game are often called “backseat gamers” (Twitch Rivals Finals 17:24:25). This negative term refers to unskilled gamers who try to counsel others in video games. Less meaningful for gamers apparently is the investment of time in video games. Instead, it is closely tied to the aspect of the skill. If gamers spend much time with a video game, they have more experience and more practice. That means gamers try to express that they are skilled in a game by stating that they invest much time in it (Twitch Rivals Tournament Today at 6pm EST! Warming up until Then 20:00:22-34). The time spent in a video game alone, therefore, does not make one a gamer.
5.3 A Restricted Identity
The identification as a gamer depends on age. It can be evaluated that the age of the gamers who state how old they are is between ten and mid-twenties (18+ Girls Podcast 01:20:50; Are We Gamin? Or Are We. Gaminnnn?! 22:19:20; 1v1 Realistic Wagers 19:19:45). However, these statements should not be taken too seriously because they cannot be proven. More interestingly, there seems to be a vague maximum age for gamers. Due to ridiculing comments on gamers that are 30 years old and because a 28 year old feels too old to be a gamer, it is shown that gamers are expected to be relatively young (Gaming and Educating (1) 21:20:04; 21:11:47). The majority does not identify with the older generation of gamers, which they call “boomer gamers” (100T Hiko 22:24:31).
Finally, the identification as a gamer does not seem to be neutral to gender and sexuality. Gamers are aware that they are predominantly male (Warming up for Twitch Rivals Semi Finals 00:57:08). With only one look into the list of online streamers, it becomes obvious that the relation between men and women in gaming is strongly dominated by male streamers. Among the 50 most popular gaming streamers, only one is female (“Top 100 Twitch Streamers Sorted by Followers - Socialblade Twitch Stats”). This seems to be a known fact for gamers. The chat observation shows that many girls also identify as gamers (Twitch Front Page!!!! So the Question is...Fruity Pebbles or Cocoa Pebbles? 10:54:07; Trans Pride <3 Annie in the Afternoon (1) 20:29:12; Defying the Odds Ep.330 16:16:34). However, they call themselves “gamer girls”. The same goes for LGBTQ gamers which group themselves under the term “gaymers” (Trans Pride <3 Annie in the Afternoon (2) 18:51:37; High Elo Epic Poggers Games 19:20:44; Mousesports vs Ence - Blast Premier Spring Showdown EU Semi-Finals 16:38:49). This shows that the term gamer is understood to be a heterosexual male so that non-males or LGBTQ people have to identify under a different term.
5.4 Escaping Real Life
As a summary, the noted aspects can be used to discuss how much the gaming community fits the criteria of a subculture from a gamers' perspective. The insight into the communication between gamers on Twitch has shown that the gaming community is a vague network of people that share the same interest in gaming. It has been demonstrated that gamers socialize and primarily discuss gaming-based topics. There is no leading system, and basically, anyone can join the community by being active in the chat. Furthermore, all gamers share a common identity. Therefore, gamers choose unique nicknames or write messages that show others that they identify as gamers. Moreover, gamers have developed a distinctive vocabulary that steadily increases. That is why only those who understand this gaming language can follow the discourse, and only those who frequently participate can understand the language. Within the community, a multidimensional hierarchy has developed where those who are firmly holding on to the values and practices of gaming have more reputation than those who are less consequent. Gamers move up in ranks by having in-depth gaming knowledge, special gaming equipment, and consequently high gaming skills. Although most active gamers in the Twitch chat seem to be teenagers and young adults, the identity as a gamer does not vanish at a certain age.
Some aspects do not fit the criteria of a subculture that well and need a closer look. For example, Ken Gelder's first criterion that subcultures often have a negative relation to work does not really fit the gaming community (3). The dominant Western culture is built upon ideals of hard work and discipline. Gamers' main interests lay in video games which are entertainment and therefore connected to leisure activities. However, gamers often have regarded their invested time as hard work to become a professional (Best Valorant Player 17:33:28-40:05). Even though gamers acknowledge professional gaming as real work and often seek to become professional gamers themselves, they do not despise classic work (Twitch Rivals Finals 16:25:30; Crazions' Charity Stream! 18:22:21). Some even show happiness that they could return to work in the COVID-19 pandemic (I Can Finally Fish 15:35:23).
Furthermore, only partially applying is Gelder's criterion that members of a subculture tend to seek forms of belonging outside the domestic sphere (3). Many gamers report that their parents have a problem with their gaming activity (Crazions' Charity Stream! 19:12:12-16). Gamers often share intimate matters with their community that they do not want to discuss with their parents (Improving Every Single Day 19:40:43). Also, in some cases, gamers call the gaming community their “family” (Let's Hang Out Together and Play Some Games 17:09:19). Still, many comments clearly show that the family has a primary role that cannot be filled by the gaming community (Potential Pirate Day 14:44:17).
Even though gamers do not leave their home physically to meet their social group, they feel as if they are away from home because the internet is seen as a place to escape to (100T Hiko 20:59:55). Gamers also associate the gaming community with the internet and select online platforms (Good Morning! 23:47:34; Chats Then, Building My First Ever Minecraft House 14:57:40). Nevertheless, the internet does not seem to be a replacement for their physical home, where they feel more secure than online. Therefore, Ken Gelder's subcultural aspect of association with certain territories instead of own property does not fit accurately (3).
Gelder's statement that subcultures have an ambivalent relation to class because they refuse traditional class theories fits gamers (3). Since anybody can join 38 the gaming community, for example, by joining online chats, gamers leave their class affiliation with all personal background behind. It has been shown that gamers do not arrange themselves on criteria other than which kinds of games they play, how much they know about them, and therefore how skilled they are in them.
Ken Gelder's fifth criterion that subcultures have close ties to excess and exaggeration refers to the deviance of style, language, behaviour and consumption (3). The analysis of the Twitch chat has clearly shown that gaming has developed its own vocabulary that is so extensive that it comes close to an actual language that has derived from standard language and cannot be understood by non-members of the gaming community. Due to gamers' affiliation for gaming equipment that has derived from their regular use, like gaming computers, gaming chairs and special mousepads, they have found their own gaming style of the excessive colourful and shiny “chromalook”. Still, it is not only a physical style that gamers developed. Much more relevant is the deviance of their nicknames that has been presented. Also, gamers attach importance to their style in video games. Therefore, they try to get their hands on so- called “skins” that make their characters in a video game have a unique look. Gamers often state that they want to have certain rare skins that have a particular style (1v1 Realistic Wagers 18:44:29; Back to the Grind! Learning New Agents 22:13:54; Fazeup Let's Click Some Heads! 18:34:21). This selection of style is not essential for video game players because it does not affect the way you play, and prestige in the gaming community for having a striking look in video games is only essential to those who identify as gamers. This criterion of excess and exaggeration, therefore, matches with the gaming community.
Gelder's final criterion states that subcultures refuse the banalities of ordinary life and massification, which sums up all the criteria before (3). It has been shown that gamers try to deviate from the mainstream in many ways, beginning with the way they speak and ending with their individual style. In the chat many occasions could be found where chat participants commented about content of mass interest, like politics (Building My First Minecraft House pt 2 20:32:44; Good Morning! 22:44:12; Twitch Rivals React Annie! 21:48:39). However, it is also often stated by gamers that they do not want to talk about topics of ordinary life because they want to escape the mainstream (I Can Finally Fish 16:18:39; Good Morning 18:04:31; 100T Hiko 20:59:55). That is why especially politics are not desired in the gaming community (Time to Play Games and Get Some Wins 16:58:16; Crazions' Charity Stream! 18:28:51). As a result, it can be concluded that the gaming community sees itself as a marginalised group, which fits Gelder's final aspect.
Finally, the gaming community, from the gamers' perspective fits most of the criteria of a subculture except for a few deviations. Due to some presented gamers who think that gaming identity stops at a certain age, the gaming community on Twitch has aspects of youth culture. However, this might be traced back to the fact that the platform was founded in 2011 and only became famous in recent years. Young gamers might connect gaming with Twitch, while older gamers do not. Therefore, older gamers might instead socialize on other platforms. Furthermore, some gamers state to be over 30 and still identify as gamers (100T Hiko 18:17:16). Also, the distinction to a scene is not clear-cut. Nevertheless, gamers are connected more through their cultural habits and their social consequences than through organised locales, which leads instead to a subculture.
One significant aspect of subcultures is still missing. The form of resistance against the dominant culture mainly distinguishes subcultures from countercultures. While countercultures tend to be in an intense conflict with, and actively reject institutions of the dominant culture, subcultures only deviate a little from the mainstream. As stated earlier, the gamers' perspective does not indicate that their values have derived from the dominant culture so severely that they could be called a counter-culture. However, from the perspective of the gamers, resistance can hardly be found at all. The gamers' internal communication in the chat gives examples that show they are aware of the stigmatization of their group (Warming up for Twitch Rivals Semi Finals 01:08:36). Still, their resistance against the dominant culture cannot be seen in anything but the striking misbelief in the mainstream media and the attempt to escape them (Good Morning! 22:47:36; Trans Pride <3 Annie in the Afternoon 19:05:31).
However, they are also mindful that these accusations do not come out of nowhere. Even without thoroughly examining every allegation of the mainstream culture for veracity, there is clear evidence in the chat that the media does not merely come up with erroneous statements. It does not take long to find misogynistic or generally toxic comments, calls for violent acts, or admissions of gambling addictions in the chat (Building My First Minecraft House pt 2 23:55:01; Twitch Rivals React Annie! 21:48:32; Twitch Rivals Finals 16:33:34). However, while a few exceedingly awful examples support the attitude of the media, the mass of comments disproves it. Even though all streams had the same war-like main topic with the video game Valorant, there is by far more positive and friendly wording like “love”, “like”, “welcome” in the chat than damaging and harming statements like “hate”, “kill”, “violence”. Nevertheless, gamers seem to have adopted mostly old prejudices from the media. For example, internally, gamers often do not connect the term gamer with a good look (Improving Every Single Day 22:19:39, 21:40:25). Also, in the gaming community, the term gamer seems to be incompatible with an extrovert lifestyle with many friends (Mousesports vs Ence - Blast Premier Spring Showdown EU Semi-Finals 18:08:15; Twitch Rivals Finals 20:32:03).
Level 6: The Consequences of Stigmatization
It has been shown that the media, as a powerful institution of the dominant culture, is not only spreading stereotypes of gamers, for example, that gamers are predominantly male. Many articles in established newspapers and magazines also show a negative attitude towards gaming that conveys negative feelings, for example, the concerns about violent gamers. The beliefs of the media about gamers enormously vary from how the social group sees itself. The mainstream media often has no clear picture of the gamer community. Often, however, they show them as aggressors in the social conflict who need help. The gamers, on the contrary, seem to see themselves as the exact opposite, a group of people who have no interest in the mainstream culture.
Amongst others, Rice et al. have demonstrated that stigmatization of a social group takes place on different levels of the media, the society, the family, and the individually affected person. All of those levels are connected and depend on each other. For example, as stated earlier, the media's perspective on social groups and especially subcultures is strongly influenced by a small number of striking individuals of the group in public. That the family and the close social group strongly influence individuals has been highlighted very often. Furthermore, the frame of society affects all other levels by laying the groundwork for any social debate. Goepfert et al. conclude that the media has a unique role in the process of stigmatization (149). They state that the media does not have the exclusive power of stigmatization but it is the first part of a long chain because it is the media which can spread prejudices on a large scale.
As shown, prejudices, as perceived negative emotions, are being promulgated by the dominant media. These are received by other dominant institutions of the larger society like politics. This can be seen when politicians like the US President Donald Trump accused gamers of terroristic assaults and the German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer demanded closer observation of the gaming community (Trump; Becker). The negative impression of a whole social group in politics very likely entails discrimination. For sure, however, it will carry prejudices to the next level of other dominant institutions.
That large institutions have prejudices against the gaming community can be seen in the case of the International Olympic Committee which refuses to acknowledge Esports as a sport. Not because Esports do not fit the criteria of a “real sport”. Many prestigious sports professors like Ingo Frohböse state that Esports athletics have the same physical strain as athletes of traditional disciplines (Neuburg). The International Olympic Committee states that Esports were just too violent to fit the values of a sport and refuse to debate with gaming representatives (“Esports 'Too Violent' to Be Considered for Olympics, Says IOC President Thomas Bach”).
For the next level, Rice et al. propose that the closer community is relevant for stigmatization, which in the case of gamers, is especially their family (644). Usually, parents care for their children and want to raise them responsibly. That is why it is not surprising that it could be found out in this paper that gamers often get in conflict with their parents about their gaming activity. It is very likely that the forced attempt of parents to keep their children away from video games only increases the discrepancy between those two instances. If children look for a replacement for their family online because their parents have become less understandable, the chance for excess and exaggeration is even more likely. The family, therefore, has not only significant influence on the stigmatization but also a great impact on the participation of their children in a subculture.
Finally, there is one last level of stigmatization, which refers to the affected individual (Rice et al. 644). In most cases, stigmatization is used to describe the perceived negative beliefs of others that lead to the discrimination of the individual. However, this captures only a part of a stigma which is called social stigma. Corrigan 42 and Rao state that if an individual carries social stigma and is confronted with experiences of discrimination over a prolonged period, it can happen that the individual actually beliefs in the stigma themselves. Subsequently, affected persons might apply this belief to themselves, which leads into self-harm, for example, lower self-esteem (Goepfert et al. 139).
Often it is believed that stigmata can be justified as deterrent prevention of excessive forms. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the stigma about overweight is accepted in society because it is thought that through emotions of shame to be overweight people would eat more healthily and do more sports (“Obesity: Stigma, Trends, and Interventions” 2). However, the authors continue that it results in the exact opposite of social isolation, binge eating, reduction of physical exercise and therefore, weight gain. The same goes for gaming. This concept of self-stigmatization is mostly used in psychology to understand mental illnesses better. However, it can be applied to the stigmatization of the gaming community as well. Especially when gamers experience prejudices against them from many levels, for example, in school and at home, it is imaginable that a self-stigma process starts. The affected persons might pull back and escape into the internet, where excessive consumption leads to addiction, less physical activity, and up to complex disorders. Now it becomes clear that stigmatization results in a vicious circle. Those who were initially affected by stigmatization become those examples that were reproducing the stigma in the first place.
The only long-term solution is to break down prejudices and to achieve that every presented level that reproduces stigmata has its possible range to interfere. However, it is mainly the media that has the power to relieve the gaming culture massively by adding more gaming-based topics. A change in the dominant culture usually takes its time, and as long as gamers do not show any form of resistance, there will not be a cultural change, and gaming remains something between a subculture and the Olympics.
Level 7: Conclusion
By stepping back from the specific perspective on the gaming culture, a more abstract conclusion can be drafted. Based on the results of this paper, it can be stated that even in a globalized society, the dominant Western culture struggles to include new popular culture. Moral panic about new forms of youth practices in the community inevitably leads to stereotyping. The media lacks the flexibility to give those subcultures fertile ground to grow and establish themselves. Instead, it was shown that the press also becomes an arena where hegemony is fought out between proponents and critics. As a result, prejudices are being spread that are adopted by politics, social institutions, families and individuals. Even in civilisations that are strongly influenced by capitalism, popular culture with vital economic industries is not automatically included in the dominant culture.
Furthermore, it could be examined that youth and young adults with a shared social identity still group in loose organisations. They develop personal vocabulary, signs and style that deviates their social group from the mainstream. Since globalisation and capitalism provide a whole range of social groups one can choose from, it is often stated that the meaning of subcultures has got lost. However, it could be shown that joining a social group often has nothing to do with choice. Still, many youths want to escape their personal life for different reasons. Therefore, they try to escape to new social groups that share the same need. The paper, therefore, showed that the term “subculture” still has its meaning today.
Lastly, the results of this study highlight the importance of the resistance of socially stigmatised groups. To break down stigmata, one must break down the prejudices that affect a social group. This happens when most people do not believe them to be true. If stigmatised groups pull back more and more, there is no chance to get the people to change their minds. By showing resistance against the dominant culture, minorities can attract attention to them, which leads the mainstream to new experiences that can break down the prejudices. Furthermore, by showing public resistance, it is likely that the press reports about it. Since the media have the strongest influence on the people's beliefs, they are the ones who hold the controller in their hands, and to quit the stigma game, there is no getting around them.
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Table 4: Statistic about the Attitude towards gaming in the categories
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Apendix B: Twitch Transcripts
[2020-06-05 19:40:43] @joibryant13 when i broke up with him he said "welp we will resee this relationship isn 20 yrs" and now hes pinning...haha i win
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 44: 919
[2020-06-05 21:21:21] if you dont use the Cat Gun Buddy are you real gamer?
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 67: 2841
[2020-06-07 22:13:54] Yo i love the skin you use that shoots the laser things its lit
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 148: 2937
[2020-06-07 23:30:36] random question, what are good games for the switch currently only own animal crossing
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 162: 398
> I am a tech illiterate. Maybe I can ask my mom, she always gets things to work without knowing how and why and what
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 210: 1790
[2020-06-10 19:24:24] < > @Hgani87 you asking the wrong person, i is not a gamer
Männer > jordanfisher, S. 256: 349
15:56:58] < > I just order a 240 Hz monitor
15:57:17] < > @lilgangstadude with gtx550? ok
15:57:30] < > @Akumura41 i got a 2080 TI
Männer > laski, S. 63: 2128
> lol how myth the fortnite gamer gonna stand a chance
Männer > skadoodle, S. 38: 1311
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Männer > aydan, S. 18: 2015
[2020-06-05 19:19:45] < > I'm 24 years
Männer > aydan, S. 68: 1698
[2020-06-05 21:10:22] What does wager mean
Männer > aydan, S. 205: 39
[2020-06-06 12:50:41] @HoneyTwerp dont entertain the mobile gamer PepeLaugh
Männer > thegaming owl, S. 10: 752
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you still got a 4k and forced 4 people to have to rebuy their guns
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> @LintyCarcass ur clearly a cs gamer
Männer > thegaming owl, S. 102: 432
[2020-06-09 17:33:28] @thegamingowl hey bro In your honest opinion do you think that people that haven't been pro before can get pro in this game or will there be to much completion due to the fact that the csgo pros are coming to this game?
[2020-06-09 17:36:00] @miletaa_ depends there gonna have many hours on you but if your young enough you can play 12 hours a day you could lol
Männer > thegaming owl, S. 150: 703
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Männer > blastpremier, S. 1388: 1686
[2020-06-11 14:48:07] < > @ONSCREEN none of these new gamers know about spamming spacebar on duke nukem 3d in the strip club. Shake it baby.
Männer > onscreen, S. 829: 2837
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[2020-06-05 17:55:16] i get confused in general in this game. hiko gets confused when people make bad decisions. god gamer hours
Männer > Hiko, S. 13: 2239
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Männer > Hiko, S. 18: 488
[2020-06-05 18:17:16] <face> lol anyone who calls a 30 year old gamer old is an idiot, our generation led the way for gaming evolving forward.
[2020-06-05 18:17:17] <ca t> Hows he look so young when hes 30 lmao
Männer > Hiko, S. 50: 1760
[2020-06-05 20:37:37] < > Gamers: Girls aren't treated any differemtly in games. Also Gamers: this chat
Männer > Hiko, S. 439: 2254
[2020-06-05 20:59:55] Yo can we not just enjoy the stream? Whatever is happening in the world rn can stay out there in the world, but lets make this chat a place to escape
Männer > Hiko, S. 516: 706
> Thanks for repping the boomer gamers
Männer > Hiko, S. 723: 1352
[2020-06-06 20:00:22] < > how to get consistent at the game?
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Männer > Hiko, S. 835: 430
[2020-06-07 21:11:47] @hiko, I am 28. I currently play in Advance team
in esea. Do you think I should even bother trying to go pro in this Valorant? I feel 28 is too old to be a gamer.
Männer > Hiko, S. 1580: 253 its not possible don't let anyone tell you you can't do it, you do what you love and you will never have to work in a day in your life
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Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 3: 2378
[2020-06-05 18:28:42] put that recipe in the discord someone
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Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 10: 2600
[2020-06-05 18:28:51] < > man I want the old internet back, no political crap, no drama, just pure fun just like this stream
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 11: 876
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> i think that a good amount of gamers have that with there parents
> lmao yeah my parents def despise my gamin
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 29: 2114
[2020-06-08 15:29:16] what is up my gamers!
[2020-06-08 15:29:18] Hell
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 63: 1005
> I finally got to go back to work over the weekend.
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 70: 2443
[2020-06-08 16:00:26] < > Just binged your song of horror play through, what an amazing game!
[2020-06-08 16:00:28] True
[2020-06-08 16:00:29] < > I caught a great white and a whale shark in the same day
[2020-06-08 16:00:29] < > Gab have you played any of the Red Dead Redemption game I've almost beat Red Dead 2
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 112: 1333
> hi @frickhhayden welcome
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 127: 890
[2020-06-08 16:18:39] This stream came at the perfect time...i need some escape from real life
Frauen > gabsmolders, S. 129: 695
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> its hard switching from one shooter that
has a certain style of playing then switch to something completely different
Frauen > eeliser, S. 6: 2006
> any GAMERS in here?
Frauen > eeliser, S. 31: 1400
> "You'll NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE" - Tracer
Frauen > eeliser, S. 33: 2950
[2020-06-09 17:09:19] bunny family the best family going
Frauen > bunnygirl, S. 154: 1000
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Frauen > cloverofficial, S. 108: 534
[2020-06-09 16:16:34] < > Tip: Be like Clover, and be a gamer girl.
[2020-06-09 16:17:11] i like gamer girl tho
[2020-06-09 16:17:29] Gamer Girls cool af
Frauen > cloverofficial, S. 145: 218
[2020-06-06 18:04:31] #TryingToEscape
Frauen > amourant, S. 369: 1200
> are you into call of duty
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Frauen > amourant, S. 920: 2393
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[2020-06-07 23:38:36] <i > THE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCERTHE MEDIA IS CANCER
Frauen > amourant, S. 924: 394
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Frauen > amourant, S. 933: 1727
[2020-06-08 01:20:50] Eikichi Onizuka 22 years old.
Frauen > amourant, S. 1046: 419
[2020-06-06 14:44:17] < > it's ok family first <3
[2020-06-06 14:44:30] < > love you guys thank you <3
[2020-06-06 14:44:33] no problem Harrie
[2020-06-06 14:44:48] take care Harrie, hope everything will be okay <3
[2020-06-06 14:44:50] < r> wishing you and the family well
Frauen > harrie, S. 44: 1219
[2020-06-09 16:04:25] Hey gamers anamotHappy hope your games is going well
Frauen > nickitaylor, S. 64: 2745
[2020-06-09 16:12:32] < > If she is lying about her small dog, is she also lying about being a gamer?
Frauen > nickitaylor, S. 67: 369
[2020-06-08 01:53:07] <
Frauen > thegeekentry, S. 32: 1753
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Frauen > annie, S. 314: 1023
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“A Video Game Moment: Why Online Play Is Booming.” The Week US, 10 Apr. 2020, vol. 20, no. 970, p. 25.
Abrahams, Kim. “Granny Who's a Gaming Legend.” YOU, 23 July 2020, p. 3.
Alexander, Harriet. “Puma Announces E-Sports Trainers for Well-Heeled Gamers.” The Daily Telegraph, 19 Dec. 2019, p. 17.
Anand, Abhishek. “PUBG Junkies Keep Thier Fingers Crossed.” Mail Today, 28 July 2020, p. 3.
Anderson, Mae. “Google's Stadia Is No Critical Hit.” The Sunday Capital, 29 Nov. 2019, B4.
“Are His Hobbies Unhealthy?” Woman, 20 July 2020, p. 45.
Asher-Shapiro. “The New Frontier in Digital Rights.” The Star Malaysia, 10 Aug. 2020, p. 6.
Badshah, Nadeem. “Brits Are Addicted to Games - 7,500 Seek Help for Problem.” Daily Star, 16 Nov. 2019, p. 20.
“Baltimore Country Public Library Now Has a Discord Server for Teens.” The Dundalk Eagle, 1 Aug. 2020, p. 15.
Basaran, Emre. “Fun Facts About Much-Anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 Video Game.” Daily Sabah, 28 Aug. 2020, p. 1.
Bond, Caleb. “Gamer Guilty of Child Exploitation.” The Advertiser, 20 July 2020, p. 10.
Browning, Kellen. “Where Black Lives Matter Protests Stream: Twitch.” San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition, 22 June 2020, C1.
---. “Ninja Played Fortnite on YoutTube, and the Gaming World Lost Its Mind.” Bangkok Post, 15 July 2020, p. 5.
“Buy and Win.” The Sun, 7 Aug. 2020, p. 20.
“Champion Canadian Gamer Speaks Out over Harassment at Ubisoft Elsewhere.” The Borneo Post, 22 July 2020, 18.
Changarathil, Valerina. “Regional Gamer Scores a Win with New Deal.” The Call, 28 Apr. 2020, A1.
Chilton, Louis. “Rewriting the Script.” The Independent, 19 June 2020, p. 165.
Chmielewski, Dawn. “Agent Provocateur.” Forbes, 31 July 2019, p. 36.
Christmann, Samantha. “Passing the Time During Pandemic.” The Buffalo News, 9 Aug. 2020, D1.
Clarke, Liz. “Confronted by Online Trolls, or Worse, Esports Competitors Are Forming All-Female Teams and Competing in All-Female Leagues.” The Washington Post, 26 Dec. 2019, A1.
---. “Silencing the Haters.” The Day, 12 Jan. 2020, G4.
Coulton, Laurence. “Can E-Sports Truly Be Regarded as a Profession?” Beijing Review, 30 July 2020, p. 1.
Davies, Ruby. “Game Quits High Street for Sports Direct Move.” The Sentinel, 10 Aug. 2020, p. 19.
Dean, Sam, and Todd Marten. “Business Inside: Trumps Is Targeting TikTok and WeChat. What about video games?” Los Angeles TImes, 17 Nov. 2019, A1.
DuBose, Brooks. “Esports Tournament Aims to Push Students Toward STEM.” The Capital, 17 Nov. 2019, A1.
Duggan, Donna. “Video-Game Addiction.” MiNDFOOD, 15 May 2020, special issue on food and drink, 1 July 2020.
“For True Gamers Iyama G-Master GB2760HSU-B1.” WebUser, 27 Nov. 2019, vol. 144.
Fowler Steen, Spencer. “Smash-Comp Continues.” Shepparton News, 14 July 2020, p. 1.
“Gamer: Lack of Escapism Is No Fun.” The Herald, 16 July 2020, vol. 238, no. 14, p. 8.
“Gamers Becoming Gamblers.” The Sunday Times, 12 June 2020, p. 18.
“Gamer's Go for Gold.” The People, 22 Sep. 2020, p. 29.
“Game's up.” The Hindu, 19 July 2020, p. 7.
George, David. “MP's Plea to Gamers over 'Loot Box' Safety.” Portsmouth News, 15 June 2020, p. 19.
Green, Shannon. “Video Gaming Disorder Is a Disease? Sounds Like a Cultural Bias.” Orlando Sentinel, 16 June 2020, A15.
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Heinzl, John. “Stars and Dogs.” The Globe and Mail Prairie Edition, 8 Aug. 2020, B9.
“Holiday Gift Ideas for Avid Gamers.” The Mercury, 14 Dec. 2018, C5.
Hyun-bin, Kim. “Kakao Games Under Fire over 'Game Dialogue'.” The KoreaTimes, 6 Aug. 2020, p. 4.
“Intel 10th Gen: A Gamer's Delight.” Daily Tribune, 1 Dec. 2019, B12.
Jenkins, Olivia. “Parents Urged to Get in the Game.” Herald Suns, 17 July 2020, p. 4.
Keller, Michael H. “Video Games and Online Chats Are "Hunting Grounds" for Sexual Predators.” The Denver Post, 8 Dec. 2019, 17A.
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Liedtke, Michael. “Gamers Push up Nintendo Profit.” The Citizens' Voice, 7 Aug. 2020, C1.
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Mullin, Cheryl. “Core, Blimey!”. Llanelli Star, 5 Aug. 2020, p.46.
Murphy, Amy. “The Weightstation.” Daily Mirror, 1 Jan. 2020, p. 19.
Murphy, Margi. “Drop That Pizza: Gamers Have New Fuel.” The Sunday Telegraph, 12 Aug. 2018, p. 10.
“New Research Find Video Game Addiction 'Real' ... But Only Affects 10 Per Cent.” The Herald, 15 May 2020, vol. 238, no. 93, p. 10.
Noordin, Shaun A. “Out of Control.” The Star Malaysia, 13 July 2020, p. 4.
Orr, Lucy. “'This Industry Has a Problem with Abuse': Dealing with Gaming's #MeToo Moment.” The Guardian US, 29 Sep. 2019, p. 31.
Oxborrow, Ian. “What's the Score with the New 'Fifa'?” The National, 28 Aug. 2020, vol. 13, no. 96, p. 21.
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---. “Cleveland All-Girls School First with Varsity.” Daily Times, 24 July 2019, p. 45.
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“Sony's Profit up as People at Home Play Video Games.” Dayton Daily News, 9 Aug. 2020, D2.
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---. “Gaming Hooks Teens.” Sunday Herald, 12 July 2020, p. 26.
Stokel-Walker, Chris. “Chess Videos Become Fave Quarantine Watch.” The Times of India, 9 Sep. 2020, p. 14.
“Supporting Women's Rights.” The Sun, 19 July 2020, p. 17.
“The Best Car for 'True Gamers'.” TehchLife Australia, 26 Nov. 2019, no. 94, p. 114.
“The Games Designer That Has Taken a Leap from Avatars and Pixels into the Unknown - Real Life.” The Daily Telegraph, 7 Aug. 2020, p. 1.
Trapunski, Richard. “The Art of Classic Video Games.” NOW Magizine, 23 July 2020, C5.
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100T Hiko. Hiko. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko.
18+ Girls Podcast. Amouranth. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/amouranth. 1v1 Realistic Wagers. Aydan. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/aydan.
Are We Gamin? Or Are We. Gaminnnn?! Pokimane. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/pokimane.
Back to the Grind! Learning New Agents. JordanFisher. Twitch, 7 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/jordanfisher.
Best Valorant Player (1). TheGamingOwl. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ thegamingowl.
Best Valorant Player (2). TheGamingOwl. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ thegamingowl.
Best Valorant Player (3). TheGamingOwl. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ thegamingowl.
Brap Stacey at AU Reset. TheGeekEntry. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ thegeekentry.
Building My First Minecraft House Pt 2. Pokimane. Twitch, 10 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/pokimane.
Chats Then Building My First Ever Minecraft House. Pokimane. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/pokimane.
Clover X Keisha Ep.329. CloverOfficial. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ cloverofficial.
Crazions' Charity Stream! GabSmolders. Twitch, 5 June 2020.
Defying the Odds Ep.330. CloverOfficial. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ cloverofficial.
Fazeup Let's Click Some Heads! Wildfoxx. Twitch, 11 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ wildfoxx.
Gaming and Educating (1). Hiko. Twitch, 7 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko.
Gaming and Educating (2). Hiko. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko.
Gaming and Educating (3). Hiko. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko. Gaming and Educating (4). Hiko. Twitch, 10 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko.
Good Morning! Amouranth. Twitch, 7 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/amouranth.
Good Morning. Amouranth. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/amouranth.
Hi What the Hells up. Eeliser. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/eeliser.
High Elo Epic Poggers Games. Annie. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/annie. I Can Finally Fish. GabSmolders. Twitch, 8 June 2020.
Improving Every Single Day. JordanFisher. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ jordanfisher.
Late Night Eliminating. Laski. Twitch, 11 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/laski.
Let's Hang Out Together and Play Some Games. Bunnygirl. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/bunnygirl.
Mousesports Vs Ence - Blast Premier Spring Showdown EU Semi-Finals.
Blastpremier. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/blastpremier.
Potential Pirate Day. Harrie . Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/harrie.
Road to 100k. NickiTaylor. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/nickitaylor. Streaming Alot. 24_flash. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/24_flash.
T1 Skadoodle Twitch Rivals 60 Sec Delay. Skadoodle. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/skadoodle.
Time to Play Games and Get Some Wins. Itssky. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/itssky.
Trans Pride <3 Annie in the Afternoon (1). Annie. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/annie.
Trans Pride <3 Annie in the Afternoon (2). Annie. Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/annie.
TSM Wardell. Wardell. Twitch, 10 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/wardell.
Twitch Front Page!!!! So the Question Is...Fruity Pebbles or Cocoa Pebbles?
MsAshRocks. Twitch, 11 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/msashrocks.
Twitch Rivals Finals. Wardell. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/wardell.
Twitch Rivals React Annie! Annie. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/annie.
Twitch Rivals Tournament Today at 6pm EST! Warming up Until Then. Hiko.
Twitch, 6 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/hiko.
UK's Worst Valorant Streamer. Onscreen. Twitch, 11 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ onscreen.
Valorant Now - WoW Later. JordanFisher. Twitch, 9 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/ jordanfisher.
Valorant with Ninja and Friends! JordanFisher. Twitch, 10 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/jordanfisher.
Vitality Vs Dignitas - Blast Premier Spring Showdown EU Quarter Final. Blastpremier. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/blastpremier.
Warming up for Twitch Rivals Semi Finals. Myth. Twitch, 8 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/myth.
Yep Losing Only. Eeliser. Twitch, 5 June 2020. www.twitch.tv/eeliser.
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1 Here, platforms are social places on the internet where gamer socialize which must be distinguished from the term gaming platforms which refers to the technical device, video games are played on.
2 This exemplary nickname was created by the author of this paper himself by taking two frequently used fragments in nicknames found on the online discussion board Reddit.
3 Latinx is the gender-neutral term for Latinos and Latinas.
4 The most common distinction of gaming platforms is mobile, console and computer. Hand-held platforms which are mobile, too, are usually added to consoles.
5 Also often called “hard-core” or “core” gamers.
6 MMO is an abbreviation for “Massively Multiplayer Online Game”. The most popular MMO is World of Warcraft.
7 The articles were accessed on pressreader.com. Sorted by the website, the most relevant articles that contained the words gaming, gamer, or video games have been chosen.
8 STEM is an abbreviation of the academic disciplines science, technology, engeneering, and mathematics.
9 Loot boxes are virtual object that can be bought in a game which randomly contain special content. Only rarely, they contain content that is unobtainable without paying real money, nor does it raise the chance to be successful in a game. Still, they are very controversial in the gaming community.
10 “Gamergate” was a hashtag of a wave of harassment comments on the internet. The goal was to publicly harass people who fought against sexism in video games.
11 All cited references from the chats can be found in the appendix.
12 CMC refers to computer-mediated communication.