Recent new published research by Nesta on the average gamer in the UK found that they are probably a highly educated female aged 43. I have to admit I was even slightly stunned with this number. Although most of my peer group does play. Games ranged from computer to video games played on consoles, desktops and mobile devices.
What is further interesting is that the study found that most gamers, were also active consumer of other cultural activities such as read, going to events, theatre, museums, etc. So the interest was much more varied than one medium. Financial background or wealth was not a statistically significant indicator to differentiate.
Playing video games has come of age as a leisure activity, and the generation that grew up on video games is now reaching mid-life. The study wanted to examine the socio-economic characteristics of games players and their wider cultural behaviours. The results, first of all, do not reveal any obviously negative associations with socio- economic variables. If anything, those who play games are typically better educated, no less wealthy and are greater consumers of culture. The presented correlations are
not proof of causal relationships according to the researchers; nonetheless, the results challenge the stereotypical perception that playing video games has harmful effects on the individual.
Neither do the results lend any support to the idea that playing video games has longer term detrimental impacts on an individual’s socio-economic circumstances. That is, in general, the study did not observe any socio-economic differences between those who played when growing up and those who did not. Interestingly, it found that those who played when growing up also participated in other forms of culture, in particular, they were more likely to read, paint, attend performing arts and visit heritage sites or libraries. Not very surprising to hear that there is a path-dependency in playing video games: those who played when growing up are also more likely to do so nowadays.
Although the study confirmed that video games playing is more popular among younger individuals, with the gamer’s average age of 43.2 years, the common perception that the medium is ‘immature’ is far from being supported. Interestingly, the average gamer is more likely to be female, however among those who play, females do so less often than males.
An important question was whether playing video games makes people more creative. Although the study wasn’t conclusive in that regard, they did observe, however, that those who play video games have a stronger tendency to engage in more active forms of cultural activity which is consistent at least with greater creativity. However, it remains an open question whether this finding is a reflection of a creativity- enhancing effect of playing video games, or is rather driven by self-selection of a certain type of person towards both activities – video games playing and active forms of cultural participation.
I find it fascinating to read studies like these and to hear the positive side of games. I made games as a child, read a lot of books and as a family we definitely did a lot of cultural activities. I find games help me to re-focus my thoughts and sometimes they also help me be more creative. I still to this day read a lot and enjoy cultural adventures. So I guess I fit the profile 🙂