No, they are not the same thing. I identify as all three, but that’s not the case for everyone.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary…
: a person who plays games and especially video or computer games
: a person who is game; especially : an athlete who tries very hard to win games, competitions, etc.
Gamer is a lot easier to identify from the other two. A gamer plays games. That’s easy. When most people think of a “Gamer” they think of video consoles and computer games. That’s definitely me! Not only do I love consoles and MMO’s (massive multiplayer online), but I also love tabletop, larp (live action role-play, although not the boffer style), card games (ever play Cards Against Humanity or Sentinels of the Multiverse?), and board games (Risk Legacy anyone?).
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not just a Gamer. I’m a Nerd and a Geek too; but these two are harder to separate. Let’s look at Merriam-Webster Dictionary‘s definitions again…
: a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc.
: a person who is very interested in technical subjects, computers, etc.
: a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people
: a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity
So, what I’m reading here is that they are virtually the same thing, except Nerds are interested in computer technology and Geeks are interested in a “field” of something. This actually makes since. In most cases, when you think of a Nerd, you think of a smart guy in glasses who knows a lot about computers. This will show my age a little bit, but when I think of Nerds, I think of the 1980’s movie “Revenge of the Nerds”. With that, I must take a moment and say that I hope Robert Carradine and his wife recover from that awful semi-truck accident. I’d hate to see another celebrity great from my youth lost this year.
When you think of a Geek you picture cosplayers (dressing up in costume), bookworms, comic books, Marvel and DC, Bronies, and fandom in general. Well, at least that’s what I think of. A lot of Geeks tend to be Nerds and many Nerds tend to be Geeks, which is why it’s hard to distinguish. You can be a Nerd whose smart and techy, without being a Geek (maybe you don’t like comics and dressing up in costumes). You can be Geek who loves comics and cosplay, without being a Nerd (maybe you’re computer illiterate and not so great at studying). You have to be smart to be a Nerd, but you don’t have to be smart to be a Geek. You can be a smart Geek, but you can’t be a dumb Nerd. If you are a Nerd and Geek, you’re a smart Geek!
Now for something more interesting. The word “Geek” as you know it today, is not what it originally meant. The word “Geek” was used for circus freak-show performers who did creepy things in their act. There are Magicians who use those circus roots and that’s called “Geek Magic.” When I think of “Geek Magic”, I think of this guy (more specifically the last bit). How did that change to mean cosplayers and fandom? I have no idea!