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The Real Reason This EA Exec Dislikes The Word 'Gamer'

Electronic Arts' vice president of brand has said that the term "gamer" is outdated, pointing to the fact that gaming is so prolific in the modern era. In an interview with AdWeek, Elle McCarthy talked about her current mission of redesigning and reinvigorating EA from a branding perspective. McCarthy said that the concept of gaming has evolved beyond a specific medium or an industry.

"I often get asked about how brands can partner with gaming or talk to gamers–but there's really no such thing as gamers at all and understanding that will be crucial," McCarthy told AdWeek. "Did you know that only 14% of players self-identify as gamers and that is as low as 6% for women?"

McCarthy speculated as to why people have largely left the label behind: "It might be the safety someone finds in playing with people like them, free from the shackles of identity politics that can factor less in positive gaming spaces than they do in the world."

McCarthy went on to say the term "gamer" is essentially useless, since it's the equivalent of pointing out people that breathe air or like music. It's nearly impossible to target a demographic that is so large and disjointed. But just how ubiquitous is gaming now?

Gaming is obviously here to stay

The pastime of playing video games is considerably more mainstream now than it used to be. To McCarthy's point, the term "gamer" might be too general nowadays, considering how many people actually play video games in some form or another. The number of people playing games has been continuously rising, with 227 million people gaming in the United States as of last year (via Dot Esports).

McCarthy has been with EA since February 2020, focusing on breathing new life into a brand that has been around for nearly four decades. McCarthy said that EA's goal is to create games that wake up your brain through one of the most connective art forms around.

When it comes to branding and public perception, EA has certainly been in a tight spot. The company has a long history of shady microtransactions, especially when it comes to its "FIFA" games and loot boxes. Despite some of its controversial business practices when it comes to sports titles, EA does seem to be making a comeback in the eyes of longtime fans with the announcement of a "Dead Space" remake — which will notably feature zero microtransactions.