What is "gaming" or, for that matter, what is a "gamer?" I would submit that gaming is the act of playing games as a hobby and a gamer is somebody who regularly engages in gaming. All of this brings us to fantasy sports in general and, being the season of the Super Bowl, Fantasy Football in particular.
Are people who play Fantasy Football gamers? What type of game is Fantasy Football?
For those of you who have never played Fantasy Football, here's how it works. You get together with a group of friends and form a a fantasy football league. Typically, a league consists of 6-18 players but I have heard of leagues that have 40 or more players. Each player pretends to be the coach of an imaginary NFL team. You draft real NFL players to be on your team and then go head to head with other coaches each week of the NFL season. How do NFL players on your team score points? It's based on the actual player's real-life statistics from that week in the NFL. So if Adrian Peterson goes off for 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns, he has done very well for you in the fantasy football world. Every league has slightly different rules for scoring.
I would argue that people who play Fantasy Football are, indeed gamers. I would also call Fantasy Football roleplaying. Sure, it's not DnD. Certainly it's unique - it's as if a LARP had a love child with a text based RPG. But let's examine the facts.
In roleplaying you play a role. In fantasy football, the players play a role - the role of an NFL coach. I personally have seen many a fantasy coach take on a distinct personality when posting to league message boards, creating a team logo, naming the team, and talking smack. Over the years, your team gains a history just like a character does.
Roleplaying is social - just like fantasy football. Fantasy football becomes dull very quickly without all that social interaction, just like role playing would. Many a fantasy football league has a draft party and then gets together regularly to watch the NFL games as they keep tabs on their team on laptops.
In roleplaying you manage your character's statistics. In fantasy football your manage an entire team's statistics. These statistics change as the season progresses and you've got to change strategies and make moves based on these changes.
In roleplaying there is a random element. Typically this is rolling dice, but in fantasy football the random element is what the real-life NFL players do on any given Sunday.
So, in conclusion, Fantasy Football is most definitely roleplaying. Despite the apparent inital differences, I would say Fantasy Football is more similar to a paper and pencil roleplaying game then most MMOs or console "roleplaying" games like Final Fantasy.
Just look at the guys in this picture. Don't they look like gamers to you?
Agree? Disagree? Let the debate begin!