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Gamers are more educated, more social: study

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Hayley Tsukayama

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The study found gamers are more likely to be social and more likely to be employed full-time

The study found gamers are more likely to be social and more likely to be employed full-time Photo: Sandy Huffaker / New York Times

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 the US spent $13.5 billion on gaming in 2013 – there hasn't been a lot of hard data on hand.

Until now.

Admittedly, citing data may not help fight the perception that gamers are nerds. But the results of a new study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by noted social researcher Neil Howe (aka 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.

The study, released on Thursday by Mr Howe's LifeCourse Associates consulting firm, surveyed more than 1000 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 – the site gets around 45 million unique hits a 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 community] comprises loners and rejects ... and that couldn't be more wrong," he said. "We didn't go in with an idea of what the data would show, but we knew what we thought the data would show, and it showed what we knew to be true."

According to the study, gamers are more likely to be living with other people such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the statement, "My friends are the most important thing in my life." About 57 per cent of gamers said they agree with that statement, as compared to 35 per cent.

The study also found that gamers are split more evenly by gender than they have been in the past, with 52 per cent of video game players surveyed identifying as male and 48 per cent as female. A 2004 survey from the Entertainment Software Association estimated that 40 per cent of gamers were female.

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 time with media. But, they're also more likely to be cord-cutters who watch video through services such as Netflix or Hulu – posing a problem to those who want to market to them.

"They're a particularly valuable group of people," Mr 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's made Twitch so popular. The service now hosts approximately one million livestreams of games a month. Sandvine estimates that Twitch accounts for 1.35 per cent of all US peak internet traffic, beating HBO Go while the Wall Street Journal, citing DeepField, ranked Twitch behind only Apple, Google and Netflix.

That success has also made the service potentially attractive to outside buyers. Reports surfaced last month that Google's YouTube service was eyeing the service for a potential $1 billion deal. Mr DiPietro declined to comment on the rumours.

The Washington Post

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