Video-gamers not 'losers', study finds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 3:24am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 6:20am

Nearly everyone who plays video games has had to fight off the perception that gamers are just loser loners who set up in their parents' basements.

But while armchair debaters have long pointed out that just isn't the case - citing the rise of social gaming, mobile gaming, the fact that Americans spent US$13.5 billion on gaming last year - there has not been a lot of hard data on hand.

Until now.

The results of a new study commissioned by the video-game-streaming network Twitch and conducted by noted social researcher Neil Howe (the man credited with coining the term "millennial") offer an entirely new picture of the gaming community. The study suggests that gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than the non-gaming population.

They're a particularly valuable group of people but ... difficult to reach
Matt DiPietro, Twitch VP

The study, released by Howe's LifeCourse Associates consulting firm, surveyed more than 1,000 people via the internet about their gaming habits and then pulled some basic demographic information.

For purposes of this study, a "gamer" was defined as anyone who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days. Approximately 63 per cent of those surveyed fit that definition.

Twitch decided to commission the study because the community of gamers on its popular streaming site - which gets around 45 million unique visits per month - was clearly not at all reflective of that old gamer stereotype, said Matt DiPietro, the company's vice-president of marketing.

"There's this perception that [the gaming community] comprises loners and rejects … and that couldn't be more wrong," he said.

According to the study, gamers are more likely to be living with other people such as family, friends or significant others. Gamers are also slightly more likely to be employed full-time - 42 per cent for gamers, versus 39 per cent for non-gamers - which undoubtedly comes in handy when trying to figure out how to financially support a gaming hobby.

The study also looked into gamers' media habits, showing that they spend a lot of time using their gadgets and also tend to spend a lot of time with media.

"They're a particularly valuable group of people," DiPietro said. "But they're also particularly difficult to reach via traditional channels."

Cracking the code on how to target gamers specifically is, in part, what has made Twitch so popular. The service now hosts about a million live streams of games per month.