Debunking the Gamer Stereotype
There used to be a time when the mention of the term “online gamer” would bring to mind a negative image of an unpopular, overweight and lazy young man who plays in the basement most of his waking time because he doesn’t have any friends. The days of that stereotype are gone for good though. According to Newzoo’s 2017 Global Games Market Report, there are 2.2 billion gamers across the globe. Now that is a pretty big number. Is it possible that all of these fit the old description of an online gamer? Let us take a look at what the statistics say from recent studies.
Online Gamers Are Not Socially Awkward
A 2011 research titled Unpopular, Overweight, and Socially Inept: Reconsidering the Stereotype of Online Gamers shows that most online gamers are male: 70 percent to be exact. It also proves that the myth about gamers being awkward, obese couch potatoes is false. Said study was comprised of 2,551 participants who completed a phone survey. When comparing among online, offline, and non-players, the study showed no significant data that supported the old stereotype of an online gamer. In fact, all participants reported similar levels of physical activity and sociability.
Real Profile of Online Gamers in 2017
Another research was recently conducted in the United States by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in 2017. In this study, where more than 4,000 American households were surveyed, 54 percent of gamers who frequently play video games say that this type of activity helps them connect with their friends, and 45 percent say that playing online games is one way to spend time with their family. In fact, 21 percent of online gamers play with their family, and there are those who even play with their parents – 18 percent of the surveyed participants. Online games are also enjoyed by couples, who make up 17 percent.
The numbers from the same research from ESA show that the average age of online gamers overall is 35 years old. For women, the average age is 37 while for men, it’s 33. The data further shows that online gaming is enjoyed by players across a wide age range, from below 18 years to above 50. There is a significantly larger population of female online gamers aged 19 and above. compared to male gamers who fall below this age level. While this may seem trivial, this is an important fact considering the stereotype for online gamers.
How Often and What Do Online Gamers Play?
53 percent of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week. On average, gamers play for 6 hours online. The study shows that 29 percent of online gamers play first-person shooters such as Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which was the top-selling video game of 2016, 28 percent prefer casual games such as King’s Bubble Witch franchise, while 27 percent prefer action games.
But looking into more specific niches shows some stereotypes that are best debunked too. Take the casino game sector for example. While in real life, slot players are usually 55 to 60-year-old women with some college education and an annual household income of at least $55,000 as elaborated in the study from Oregon State University-Cascades, sadly there is a general stereotype that depicts them otherwise. Instead of primarily being motivated by winning the prize money, online slot gamers also look for entertainment value in both classic video slots. That is why slots developers are increasingly addressing the need for skills and themes in slots; in 21st-century slots the number of paylines can vary immensely and can even be up to 100 as we read on Betway, while symbols such as wilds, scatterse and multipliers add to the experience.
This brings us to an important point: as the nature of certain genres of games adapts and transforms, so does their target audience – stereotypes are, thus, irrelevant here. In the above research by ESA, there are different categories for “shooter” and “action” games, while twenty years ago we would call them both “action games”.
There is at Least One Gamer in a Household
The growing number of online gamers could be due to the fact that this particular activity is an effective way to release stress and regain focus. According to a study by Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) associate professor, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, young adults (both male and female) who play video games for a considerable amount of time eventually become more capable of managing their stress better compared to those who do not play online games.
In the United States, 67 percent of households own at least one device which is used for playing online games. Based on the ESA study, 97 percent of US households own a personal computer, 87 percent use their smartphone for online games while 61 percent use a wireless device, and 48 percent of households play using a dedicated game console. Overall, 63 percent of gamers are familiar with virtual reality (VR), and 15 percent have used VR during their online games within the past year.
While there could be players out there who fit the stereotypes mentioned earlier, these do not make up most of the population who enjoy playing games. Fortunately, several studies have been conducted to reflect the true profile of the gamer.