By Neil Merrett
“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”
– Jane McGonigal in ‘Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
– Homer Simpson
There are perhaps a million not entirely positive answers to the question – describe the average videogamer.
In a post-fact world, you may not want to know the answers.
Fortunately, the Electronic Entertainment Association has its own way of defining the real gamer – statistics, or more specifically its ‘Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry’ report.
Although an industry long associated with isolated teens sat in bedrooms, the findings suggest that, in the US at least, women aged 18 years and older represent a larger proportion of regular gamers than males under the age of 18. Whether this is isolation or not is open to interpretation.
The research, conducted by Ipsos Connect and based on the responses of 4,000 American households, more broadly found that the average age of male and female gamers is 33 and 37 respectively.
A social experience?
According to the study, over half of “the most frequent gamers” spend their time on multiplayer titles at least once a week on average, either six hours online, or five hours in person with others.
To this end, the same stats argue that 54% of the most frequent gamers surveyed found that gaming as a pastime connects with friends. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents claimed games help their families spend time together – although that alone does not mean the family that games together stays together.
In terms of socialising, 41% of respondents said they played gamers with their friends, with 21% of the same survey group joining with their families for a bout of Modern Warfare or Mario.
In a potential shifting sign of modern romance, 17% of those surveyed said they played games with a spouse.
Among its conclusions, an estimated 67% of American households “owns a device that is used to play videogames”.
This however could account for everything to smartphones or technologies such as tablets that support interaction.
What this tells us about videogamers and the industry is uncertain and that, in a way, is telling in itself.
The only clear outcome from the data is that the total consumer spend on videogames was US$30.4bn in 2016.
Gamers are now mums and dads, nieces and nephews and their uniquely complex needs, fears and aspirations can be met through a wide number of devices and genres, whether through mobile devices, over powered PCs or any number of games consoles.
This is no longer a sub-culture, gaming itself may even go beyond the lofty aspirations of culture, perhaps branching into psychology, spirituality, industry and the wider fabric of society itself. In between all this it is also just something to do and a bloody good time for a whole sway of society, certainly if the US is anything to go by.