A lot of people hate the term "gamer" as it is associated with a negative connotation of groups of individuals who do consider themselves gamers. Stereotypes have long been around of these said individuals who society illustrates as being lazy, obese, violent, temperamental and overall insensitive people. But let me tell you as someone who considers herself as a casual gamer: I, for one, do not see anything negative about being a gamer.
I will go ahead and throw out this disclaimer: I am by no means a professional gamer. I do not play video games for a living, nor do I pump out more than 20 hours of game play a week. I do, however, have friends who do play video games more than 20 hours per week and I do follow professional gamers through their leagues and championships.
Since I was younger, I was always fond of playing video games. Tetris, Pac Man, Street Fighter, Break Out, DDR, Bubble Pop, and other classic arcade games were, for a lack of a better phrase, my shit. It was one of those times in my life where I gladly took up my mom's offer of dropping me off at the game center while she drives off to do her errands. When I got my hands on a Game Boy and the Super Nintendo console, everything changed. The most exciting part of my day in grade school was not lunch time or recess. The most exciting part of my day was when I got home, tossed my backpack into my room, and jolted to the living room where the console was at so that I could get through another level of Super Mario Bros. For a kid who lived with a single parent and had a lot of social issues, video games helped me out tremendously in ways that talking to my family members could not.
In more present times, games have evolved tremendously. I went from playing on Nintendo consoles to Playstation 2, and eventually scored a free Xbox 360 Slim from my brother's purchase of a laptop. When the Xbox One came out, I was so stoked that I participated in the midnight launch for it and met a ton of kind adults who helped me carry the massive console back to my car. Yes, there are nice gamers out there and no, they are not like anything you would imagine they would be.
That is not to say that there are a few bad groups of individuals who take games a bit too seriously. Depending on what video game you choose to play, there will always be a bad bunch - but that bunch does not represent the community of gamers as a whole. Take for an example, Call of Duty. I have never played Call of Duty prior to Advanced Warfare and I only played Ghosts for about two weeks before AW was released. The Call of Duty community is a pretty tightly knit group of individuals. You have the veterans who will grind out double XP on day zero/one and you have the ones who do not have the slightest clue what they are doing (sans myself). But despite the huge discrepancy between the level of knowledge of game play and skill, I have not been called names for my lack of understanding and feel for the game. I have been warned, by multiple people, that these gamer communities are rough - and can be even more rough for as a female player. But no one from the Call of Duty community has disrespected me and it has been quite the normal experience.
But I have had my fair share of online jerks and Grand Theft Auto V has proven to me that playing with a female avatar is not as fun with random players when you need missions to be completed. The goal is to just ignore them. Sometimes you cannot help but to get upset because of the vulgarity of their language or tone, but it should not deter you away from playing the game altogether.
So as someone who plays video games casually, I do not have a problem with the term gamer. I do not care for the specifics of gender as you do not see people calling male gamers guy gamers, so I do not see the need to divide the community over different genders. If you are good at playing video games, appreciate the video gaming community, or overall just like keeping up with the gaming industry - you have every right to be proud to use the phrase gamer. At the end of the day, it describes what it is that you are doing - you're gaming. A ton of professional gamers have regular jobs, families, hold degrees, still going to college, etc. They are, in fact, normal individuals who happen to play video games on the side. Professionally, others have chosen that route as their career and there is no shame in doing that. So why, as a society, should we look down upon an occupation that requires just as much skill and knowledge in doing something as something else?
Support the community and do not downplay other people's attempts at playing to win. We all have the same goal and at the end of the day, it is just a game. You are a gamer. I am a gamer. All we want to do is have fun.