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The Gamers You Thought You Knew

new face of gaming

A new study commissioned by the streaming video platform Twitch entitled “The New Face of Gamers,” released this week reveals some interesting facts about the gaming public. In her article, “Gamers More Likely To Be Social, Educated Than Non-Gamers,” Lisa Winter summarizes some of the key findings:

Gamers are more likely to consider family a top priority than non-gamers (82% vs 68%) as well as placing a high importance on friends (57% vs 35%). Gamers and their parents are also more likely to have been college educated (43% and 52%, respectively) than non-gamers and their parents (36% and 37%, respectively).

When it comes to their occupation, 67% of gamers feel positive about their aspirations, while only 42% of non-gamers feel the same way. Gamers are also more likely to be employed full time than those who don’t partake in games (42% vs 39%). Sixty-one percent of gamers would describe themselves as natural leaders, compared to 35% of non-gamers.

Socially-speaking, gamers are much more likely to value personally making a positive impact on society (76% vs 55%) while preferring to shop at corporations backing social causes (58% vs 36%). Ethical business practices matter to 78% of gamers, compared to 65% of non-gamers.

Gamers also appear to be more tech-savvy than non-gamers, as they are more likely to use technology like smart phones, tablets, or streaming devices (like Google Chromecast) while at a friend’s house (42% vs 15%), on vacation (40% vs 18%), at work (20% vs 10%), commuting (19% vs 5%) or at a restaurant (18% vs 6%). With gamers being connected so frequently, they could be influencing how media content is distributed. Broadcast television tune-in frequency is down 12% in 2014 when compared to 2011 as part of the trend away from traditional media and coming toward online sources.

Despite the success of sites like Lumosity, I think that this perspective is long overdue and the reporting often missing many of the positive aspects of gaming and gamers. It seems to be more popular to continue to bash video games as a childish waste of time at best and a training ground for homicidal maniacs at worst. As always, the truth is more complicated. Over the past few months, Lisa Winter has written other articles concerning how the playing of video games has been linked to a boost in brain volume and creating a sharper mind:

There has been a lot of recent research to suggest that video games improve brain performance – and now a recent study has shown that just 30 minutes of gameplay per day for two months can actually increase the volume of gray matter in the areas of the brain that control spatial awareness, memory, and strategic thinking. 

I could point out the pluses and minuses of playing video games and try to counteract the stereotype that gaming conjures in most non-gamers, but is it even worth it? I think back to a favorite film of mine, On Any Sunday, in which Bruce Brown legitimizes motorcycle racing much in the same way he did in his previous documentary about surfing, The Endless Summer. Surfing and motorcycle culture have spread all over the world and are enjoyed by the widest variety of people and yet their stereotypes are firmly implanted on everyone’s minds. Why should gamers be any different?

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