People often ask me about the origin of the idea of the “gamer”, as something that you may or may not identify as.
I discussed this kind of “I am/am not a (casual) gamer” posturing briefly in A Casual Revolution, but what about the word itself?
Here is the Google Ngram viewer showing the frequency of the word gamer from 1900 to the present day.
I suppose the graph at first looks like what you would expect, but note how “gamer” only really becomes popular from 1990 and on – it was rarely used in relation to arcade games or early home computer games.
On a personal note this also explains why I never wondered that hard about whether I was or wasn’t a gamer: the word only became popular after my formative game-playing years in the 1980’s…
PS. Why is the curve flattening around 2005? Could it be that the rise of casual games is making the question moot?