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E.g. when I would like to write an official letter to some big company that I want to organize a gamer conference/gathering and I would appreciate their support in form of some kind of sponsoring etc.

Is it OK to use the word "gamer"?

Is it even gramatically correct and do older EN business people know what that word mean?

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    This isn't a matter of grammar or correctness. It's a matter of formality. And it's probably a question of what is appropriate, not what is allowed. – snailcar Sep 27 '13 at 10:19
  • @snailboat Please, could you explain that to me. Remember that I am not a native English speaker. And if something is formal or not is quite often very hard to tell if you are not exposed to that language in real life situations for a longer period of time. What seems natural to you seems often foreign and sometimes weird to me. Thank you in advance. – Derfder Sep 27 '13 at 10:32
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    Grammaticality and formality are two different things. You can be formal and grammatical ("To whom is your letter addressed?"), informal and grammatical ("Who are you writing to?"), formal and ungrammatical ("To whom is your letter address?"), or informal and ungrammatical ("Who is you writing to?"). – snailcar Sep 27 '13 at 17:14
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    If it's a "gamer conference," you shouldn't be afraid to use the word gamer. More important than whether or not older business people will recognize the word, and understand its definition, is whether or not they can learn about the rabid devotion gamers have to their passion. Somehow you have to convice this company that they should be interested in garnering attention from the gamer popluation. – J.R. Sep 27 '13 at 21:09
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The word gamer is old, evidently dating back to the 1600's. Using the unqualified word "gamer" in place of "video game player" is relatively recent. Also, according to the Google n-gram viewer, usage of "gamer" started ramping up in the late 1980's.

Essentially, the word can be considered a sort of "quasi slang". Its use has increased recently, and at the same time it has acquired a meaning which it didn't have before: the power to express "video game player" without video games having been previously mentioned.

If the gamers being discussed are not strictly video game players, but players of various other indoor games, such as board games, then the word "gamer" will cause confusion, since it will likely be interpreted as "video game player". You should use a term like "board game conference" if it is about board games, and the term "board gamer" is also a possibility.

I would not avoid "gamer" in a formal document, but I would avoid expecting the reader to understand that it means "player of video games". A better idea is to use "video gamer" at least once; after that, "gamer" can be used. An alternative is to use "video game player", and subsequently just "player". Likewise, if you make it clear that the document is about board gaming and use "board gamer", then the word "gamer" later in the document will also be clear. Once you establish your document's own specific context for the interpretation of the word "gamer", it loses its ties to modern slang. The word now means "the type of game-playing person that this document is about".

Players of various sports (not necessarily athletic) are sportsmen, and if they are adult females, they are sportswomen. There is no sports-something word which denotes sporting people that may be men or women, or possibly children. "Sportsperson" is acceptable in a formal document; it's clear that it's a gender neutral version of "sportsman" according to a well-established modern pattern of gender neutralization. I mention "sportsman" because the original meaning of "gamer" was essentially that of "sportsman", when "game" was understood to refer to a sport (including the sport of hunting, which is why the word "game" still refers to hunted animals).

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"Gamer" is an ordinary noun, and there are no tricky grammatical problems with it. Most businesses will be familiar with the term, but unless the context is very clear, you should specify in your letter what sort of games are involved: Is this a convention for people who like all sorts of games, or is it specific to video games, role-playing games, board games, or some other kind?

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