Nearly two years ago, the gamer universe seemed like a parallel reality to me. It was about boys with nothing better to do, spending their days with headphones on, locked in their rooms, playing games. Then, I received an invitation. To be part of the educational team of a technology startup aimed at the gamer audience.

Still full of prejudice due to a lack of knowledge and information, I decided to listen to what that young geek entrepreneur had to say. And, click! A switch flipped, and I saw before me literally a world of possibilities. All the incredible things that already existed in this universe, and so much more that could be done. There, I saw a dichotomy between excess and lack. On one hand, the size of the market is gigantic, the figures are surreal, and to be admired even by someone like me, who came from the pharmaceutical industry. On the other hand, there is a need for professionalization on many fronts.

My first impression was that this market grew improvisationally, almost like a joke, a pastime. I thought about the stigma of the teenager who creates something brilliant locked in their room, and when they try to show it to their parents, they are not taken seriously, so they keep creating, and sharing only with friends, since they were not valued or understood by the older generation.

But, that was before I opened my mind, stripped myself of the preconceived ideas I had, and started to study, listen, explore, and dive into the gamer universe. In this dive, I learned a lot about gamers, especially by not being a gamer myself.

1st: The gamer does not fit into a box.

I met a content creator gamer who is a firefighter. I met a gamer, a mother, with a degree in advertising, who does pole dancing and is a reference in crypto market content. I met a gamer who devours books week after week. I met a self-taught gamer, who learned Japanese by playing, and is a judge in a Japanese poetry contest, and he is not from an Oriental family. I met a gamer who loves (is obsessed with) shooting games and plays the piano and sings angelically.

People are multifaceted, with various interests, skills, habits, and behaviors. Gamers are much more than the image that has been created of them. Therefore, it would be a farce to say that the gamer community is this or that, and to give predictability to their behavior, boxing them into a single persona model. It would be like boxing soccer fans. Today almost half the world is a gamer! That’s more than 3 billion people. To presume to define a single profile and believe you know who you are talking to is unrealistic.

2nd: The gamer is not just someone who plays for fun.

During this time that I have been living daily with gamers, I have often heard the phrase: “the important thing is to have fun.” And I believe that most people who play indeed have fun as their main goal, at least at the beginning. But today, that is not the only function of games. There are different levels of commitment and relationships between players and games.

The casuals, who play to de-stress after a tiring day at work. The regulars who play every day, rain or shine. The competitors, who play seriously, still for fun, but concerned with their performance, and keeping an eye on the rankings. The professionals, or pro-players, who make gaming a means of work and professional activity. And even those who no longer play, but teach and train other players.

I had never stopped to think about these categories before entering this market, especially the professional side. And from there we have a universe within the universe. eSports seems like something so new, but it’s over 20 years old with tens of thousands of professionals involved, and figures of millions of viewers (over 600 million), millions of dollars in prizes, six-figure salaries, and so on, and lately catching the attention of non-endemic companies and brands wanting a share of the attention of niche fans.

3rd: The gamer has feelings.

“Games will make you more violent,” they say. This famous statement, however, widely refuted by experts, was for a long time the only discussion that came close to the emotions of those who play video games. Imposing on the gamer only two options: play and become violent, or stop and save their souls.

By living with gamers, working with gamers, studying gamers, and thinking about how to communicate with gamers, I was able to see up close the much deeper wounds, almost completely ignored by society. And surprise: the emotional pains of gamers are no different from the pains of society in general. After all, we have already discussed not stereotyping the gamer, or trying to fit them into a single profile.

The pains relate to social isolation, lack of assertiveness in communication, overload and excesses of the digital, emotional fragility, and a great lack of emotional education. Any similarity with the rest of the world is not a mere coincidence.

And it goes without saying how urgent it is to create safe spaces for discussion, support, and emotional education. And here lies a great opportunity, because initiatives are still in their infancy, compared to the financial maturity of this market.

I would say it is practically a duty that institutions and companies have with their audience.

A journey that doesn’t need to be as long as an odyssey

It took me almost 2 years to learn with depth and real understanding these and other things about the gamer. Not everyone has this time, nor this opportunity. I am part of a team that sees value in knowing the gaming fan as never before, and with this movement help meet their needs, treat their pains, meet their expectations, but also provide enough input so that all this.