We take a look at who's gaming and what they're playing.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Interactive New Zealand 2010, a survey conducted recently by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association. Grab a drink, sit back, and allow me to transform raw information into… slightly cooked information, but with a delicious mushroom sauce. I make
cooking learning fun!
Some basic numbers: 1,202 households were surveyed, and data was collected for 3,386 people (both adults and children). 1,958 of these people identified themselves as gamers. That’s 58% of the population.
A game-playing nation
Here’s a fun fact: 88.5% of households in New Zealand have at least one game-playing device. When you just look at households with children under 18 in them, that number grows to 100%.
My initial reaction to this was one of mild scoffery — surely the surveyors were simply including any house with a computer. After all, the slowest of PCs are still capable of playing games — but it doesn’t mean they’re ever put to that use.
However, that 88.5% actually means the number of households with a game-playing device that is actually used to play games with. These devices were categorised as either a computer (47%), a console you plug into the telly (42%), or a handheld device like a DS or PSP (11%).
Significantly, this figure does not include mobile phones. When you add everything from iPhones to crappy Nokias running Snake, the number of households with game-playing devices jumps to 92%. That’s quite a few.
Another important point: casual online games (such as FarmVille or other Facebook titles) were not counted in the survey.
All about you
Would you call yourself a gamer? Then you have a 56% chance of being male, and a 44% chance of being female. Your average age is 33. Compare that to a non-gamer, whose average age is 40.
78% of all gamers in NZ are 18 years and older, which either means gaming really isn’t just for kids, or our nation is full of slackers who need to grow up and get real jobs. I could hear Michael Laws grumbling as I typed that.
With that increasing age comes different responsibilities in life, like children. Out of all the parents who live in a ‘gamer household’, 63% are gamers themselves. Family game players are the fastest growing demographic of gamers in the country, and will continue to become increasingly dominant as we all get older and have kids.
More than half of you play games either daily or every other day. But when you do play, only 4% play for an extended duration (five or more hours). Over 60% will only play for up to an hour at a time. I expected there to be more long-play gamers out there, but it’s nice to know we can enjoy this recreational activity in moderation. As opposed to, say, drinking. So much for the fashionable moral panic about addiction to games.
Roughly half of all gamers are in full-time employment, so don’t feel bad if you no longer have the time to finish every Final Fantasy that comes your way. And you’re more likely than not to be living with another gamer in your home: 67% of households have two or more game players under the same roof.
Further putting the ‘loner with no social skills’ stereotype in its place are your preferred leisure habits. The survey found that gamers and non-gamers enjoyed dining out, shopping, or exercising in equal amounts. However, gamers showed rather less interest in gardening (!), but more in playing sports or hanging out with their children or pets. Unsurprisingly, gamers were generally more switched on when it came to digital forms of leisure. You’re more likely to use the internet or watch a DVD, but slightly less likely to read a book or newspaper, or listen to the radio.
Just like real people
I may have been quoting some differences in leisure habits, but to be honest the percentage gap in all the categories was negligible. Basically, what this survey has shown us is that Kiwi gamers are just like the rest of the population in nearly every way.
I’ll bet any of you could have said that, without the need for a survey. And yet gaming is still such a whipping boy in many circles that we need statistical evidence to back up what should be completely self-evident. It’s a real shame, but the industry and culture of video games is in a defensive position, with the onus placed squarely on it having to make continual cases for its “normalcy”.
This will get better — how can it not, with stats like the ones above? — but in the meantime, the importance of surveys like this cannot be understated.
The only shock here, for those who look on gamers as some kind of apocalyptic undead horde, is that there is no shock. Gamers are just people. Gaming, as an activity, is just that: one of many forms of leisure.
Despite the stereotyping and demonising going on, we’ve been shown here that gaming is an entrenched, moderated, and entertaining part of our lives. And that’s a pretty damn positive thing if you ask me.