Reposted from Daily Kos by Denise Oliver Velez
People in World of Warcraft costumes, at DragonCon Parade in Atlanta
Since the late 1960s the number of people who play video games
for at least an hour a day numbers about half a billion, worldwide. The games are played on multiple platforms
, and cover a wide range of genres
. As a cultural anthropologist I find the communities and cultures created by games played in tandem with others to be of compelling interest, and I've found that in the same way that communities form on the internet and in the blogosphere, the cultures of online massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs
) often mirror the contradictions and political struggles we face in real life around identity—gender, racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation.
MMORPGs, whether subscriber based or free to play have an enormous userbase, with World of Warcraft 7.6 million subscribers, even though their numbers are down from a high of 12 million in 2010. These numbers are larger than the populations of some nations. If you look at the total number of players just of MMORPGs, they rival, and surpass the population of most nations, except China or India.
Contrary to the myths and stereotypes about just who gamers are (teenaged young men) industry and research studies show a different picture. The "2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry" produced by the Entertainment Software Association, (pdf) paints a different demographic portrait. Today's gamers average age is 30, 68 percent of gamers are age 18 or older, and 45 percent of gamers are female.
Real-world issues play out in these fantasy realms, not only in the real-time chat that takes place in-game between and among players, but are also embedded in the actual design and content of the games themselves.
Please read below the fold for more on the culture of gaming.