Historically, the term "gamer" usually referred to someone who played role-playing games and wargames. Since they became very popular, the term has included players of video games. While the term nominally includes those who do not necessarily consider themselves to be gamers (i.e., casual gamers), it is commonly used to identify those who spend much of their leisure time playing or learning about games.
There are many gamer communities around the world. Many of these take the form of web rings, discussion forums and other virtual communities, as well as college or university social clubs. Stores specializing in games often serve as a meeting place to organize groups of players. Prior to the emergence of the Internet, many play-by-mail games developed communities resembling those surrounding today's online games.
In October 2006, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) was established as the first non-profit membership organization formed to represent American computer and video game consumers. The ECA was formed, in part, in response to the seemingly imbalanced representation of the games industry (e.g., the ESA, IGDA and others) in comparison to game consumers in the United States Congress.
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