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Jackson Petro
Victoria Hamby
UWRT 1101-019
8 October 2014
Video Gamers; A Discourse Community
It employs 120,000 Americans, it sold $63 billion dollars worth of merchandise in 2012
and it can be found in 67% of all American households (Entertainment Software Association),
what is it? Well according to the Electronic Software Association its video games. Video games,
once considered a niche interest for a few enthusiasts, is now one of the dominant ways people
spend their free time. To serve the interests of these millions of gamers a multibillion dollar
industry has been created in recent decades and continues to grow at a rate seven times that of
the rest of the US economy (Entertainment Software Association). With an active industry
producing hundreds of games every year for the enjoyment of legions of players of every age,
ethnicity, and gender the video gamers make up a truly massive discourse community. Indeed it
may be easy to think of gamers as a group that is too large to be classified as one single discourse
community. In recent years more casual gaming systems have emerged like the Wii... but I
won't really classify those people as gamers, a gamer to me is someone who and has played a
wide variety of games over a long period of time on different platforms, Nathan explains.
Video game enthusiasts play many genres on many platforms rarely confining themselves to
one... Although those new gamers who have arrived to the electronic arts by cell phone games
and accessible family consoles like the wii might be less versatile gamers, most mature gamers
play a wide variety of games...its not only skill in games but (familiarity) with multiple genres,

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games, and platforms that distinguish a noob from a pro and an enthusiast from an occasional
gamer.
Like all discourse communities gamers engage in dialogs with each other. Magazines like
Game Informer, forums, steam groups, chatting on the internet services provided by consoles all
help facilitate this dialog. Indeed, by the technological nature of video gaming, gamers have as
many ways to communicate as the computers they play on can provide. In all these impersonal
online exchanges one can easily forget of just how active the social side of video gaming is.
Currently there are multiple conventions across the country and across the world where gamers
go to interact with one another, explains Nathan. Conventions like RTX and Minecon draw lots
of enthusiasts from all over the US and the biggest US convention, E3, drew some 50,000 people
to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2013. The ways gamers can pursue their interest, be it
connected over the internets, in real life friendships or clubs or in massive stadiums at
conventions make the ways that gamers can interact with one another endless.
Of course when talking about big cons and the big game development and retail
companies that sponsor them we arrive at another reason many feel deeply connected to video
games, many do it as a career. Big companies are comprised of gamers who want to create new
content for their community but it also has economic interests and invest/ors at heart. Those
demand financial success. Big companies of course can measure their success in the traditional
method of sales and dollars made, says Nathan but not all games are so simple to sell. Many
games like MMO's like World of Warcraft (which brings in one billion dollars yearly) or KoToR
depend on paid subscriptions to make their money. That is where the game industry learns that
it is in its best interest to aid in their gamers social connecting. After all, the friends who need

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someone playing support or tank are walking recruiters for the game and allies who depend on
each other to win boss fights and pown in PvP are going to pay their subscriptions.
Like most entertainment enthusiasts, gamers are continuously united in their search for
new content and games to play. Massive companies like Activision, Bungie, or Bethesda that
spend copious amounts of money to produce games, that earn them the before mentioned billions
of dollars in annual revenue, are a hardy testament to the ever continuing mission to satiate
gamers appetites for new material. But not all this happens on the level of companies, Nathan
explains. One of the most lucratively successful games of recent history, Minecraft, was started
by the sole efforts of Marcus Persson, who is better known by his famous gamertag 'Notch'.
Notch is hardly the only example of small time producers making it big over the established
game companies. There are other men, famous among gamers, like Garry Newmen, creator of
Garry's Mod and Rust and Sid Meier who, with his collaborators, launched the ever enduring
Civilization series that still bears his name 23 years after its first release. Even those who don't
make games but rather just hardware, like the then 19-year-old inventor of the Oculus Rift,
Palmer Luckey, earn much recognition and love from gamers who enjoy their work. Gaming
also has a unique component that is kind of like a weird cross between fanfiction and
programming called modding, Nathan explains. Modding, short for modifying, is the popular
term for tweaking a game in any number of a variety of ways. Some mods can merely tweak
game mechanics in ways great and small. Others can create new characters, setting, or scenarios,
they can even use the framework of the game to create a totally new gaming experience, as was
the case in Garry's Mod. Because modding allows anyone with a computer and free time to
create new content for games it is hugely popular with gamers... knowing this, game developers

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usually release their development kits to the public to encourage this creation of new content.
The unique easy accessibility of computers and programming makes it so that anyone with the
know-how, from developer to dabbler, can make new content of high quality and, as the famous
men affore mentioned show us, it doesn't take a big company to create new content that people
will enjoy.