I suspect the answer is complicated, but it's likely a combination of gender bias and individual preference. I know I'm atypical. I reveled whenever I beat my extremely coordinated younger brother at anything. I'm competitive and drawn to technology. When PCs were evolved enough to support graphic game play, I was all in.
When I got to college and found another woman who enjoyed games, we were instant best friends. We set up our towers in the boy's dorm and reveled in kicking butt and taking names. Most of the guys thought it was cool, but many changed their minds when they lost. I still run into problems with a vocal few when I beat them, so I game with people I know. Life is too short to listen to some dork threaten physical harm after I blow his head off in combat.
Who is a Gamer?
There are console and PC gamers who would scoff at this definition, and if you are one of those people, you need to take yourself a little less seriously. Even those of us who have spent hours on a game of choice will reach different points in our life where it's not practical to fall into the ranks of a hardcore gamer, and that's okay. I feel that some of us can take being a geek to extremes, finding ways to exclude others because they don't follow our brand of fandom. Those of us who grew up as geeks before it somehow became trendy should remember that similar behavior made us feel different and excluded.
So knock it off.
- Have you played Bejeweled or a similar game on your phone?
- Have you played Minecraft or Solitaire on your computer?
- Have you ever played any console games?
Smallest to Largest Time Investment
VR is the lowest time commitment out of necessity. The visuals are just sketchy enough that nausea is a common complaint. If you're a high-roller who likes to be on the cutting edge, go for it.
If you have kids and a job and really only want to kill time while on public transit or while cheering on a soccer game, there are plenty of apps available for download on smartphone. I, for one, won't judge you if you want to be a fashionista who designs for the runways or shoots birds at blocks from a slingshot (as long as it's digital and not IRL). Handheld gaming devices by companies like Sega and Nintendo are also an option. At this point, I wouldn't recommend 3D, just because the technology isn't quite where I'd like to see it yet.
At this point in my life, I work 10-12 hour days and spend my spare time writing and promoting my books. I have a couple hours on the weekend to spend on gaming, and I also enjoy starting a game up when I'm sick to take my mind off whatever physical ailment I'm battling. I prefer first person shooters and open world role playing games. Back in the day I played online more, but I no longer have the time to level up to the point where I can hold my own in a face-off. I stick to playing with people I know who are in a similar situation or go against AI teams.
I maintain that PC gaming is your largest investment. Not only do you need to spend the time in your chosen game, but you also need to get ready to do some research on what to buy. There are a few laptops on the market with the visual cards and power necessary to game, but PC towers are still the most robust options. Several companies will piece together your computer for you after walking through a build tutorial. You can also go hardcore and research the top of the line components. There are tons of articles and opinion pieces to walk you through building your gaming tower.
The other reason I have PCs under the most time consuming option is because this is where the biggies like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars live. If you want to play on teams in these games, get ready to invest a lot of time building skills in order to qualify as an attractive contributor.
Smallest to Largest Financial Investment
Some additional options to consider are purchasing used consoles/video games, and renting games. Rental quickly becomes less attractive if you've found a game you'll play for months at a time, but it is a great way to test drive before making a commitment.