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Changing Face of Gaming Debunks Long Held Stereotypes

Dell study debunks long held stereotypes about gaming

New study commissioned by Dell details gamer habits, attitudes and understanding of today’s gaming community

News Summary

  • New Dell study reports gaming community is growing larger than ever due to diversification and inclusiveness, resulting in a gaming market that exceeded $30 billion in 2016 and is forecast to grow at a 6% compounded annual growth rate through 2019
  • Today’s gamer profile has changed with gaming viewed as fun, cool and exciting
  • Gaming community is welcoming and accepting of others with skill (40%) being the primary influencer when selecting an opponent – not ethnicity (8%), political view (7%) or sexual orientation (6%)

Full Story

The gaming industry has changed at such an exponential rate over the past five years, that the face of gaming has transformed before our eyes, both literally and figuratively. Once a niche hobby, explored primarily by teenage boys and serviced by a handful of companies, the gaming market exceeded $30 billion in 2016 and is forecast to grow at a 6% compounded annual growth rate through 2019.

In 2017, more people tuned-in globally to watch esport’s League of Legends finals than the U.S.’ football and baseball professional championships combined. In fact, Alienware co-founder Frank Azor predicts esports is on the path to becoming the most popular sport in the world in the next ten years.

Similarly, with PC gaming’s explosion in popularity have come many new hardware and software entrants, introducing innovation and competition as well as driving down costs, which has lured even more intrigued spectators into the gaming world.

Alienware is a proud ambassador of PC gaming. With two lines of products to serve gamers of every budget, as well as robust community engagement programs from Alienware TV to Alienware Arena, and more; Alienware has stood side by side with the community as it has grown.

As the figurative face of gaming has changed, so has who people think of as a “gamer.” Looking to set the record straight on the profile of today’s players, Alienware partnered with a third-party research firm, Researchscape, to conduct an extensive online survey of 5,763 video game players from 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, UK and US) on today’s gaming habits, attitudes and the wider gaming community. To qualify for the study, respondents had to play videogames on desktops or laptops and had to play for at least an hour a week.

The most interesting findings are noted below.

Who is Today’s Gamer?

The survey results confirm, today’s gamer is not the stereotypical teen loner playing in his parents’ basement. She’s a coworker with two kids, the guy at the gym, a fellow volunteer – and most commonly, a spouse, sibling or friend. But they all have in common that they proudly call themselves a “gamer.”

Gone are the days that being called a “gamer” is derogatory. According to those surveyed, fewer than one in 10 feel either “judged,” “childish” or “embarrassed” being called a “gamer” (8-9% each). Instead, they consider “gamer” a positive label and feel “fun” (35%), “cool” (29%), or “excited” (26%) as a result.

Through online platforms and social media, fueled by the popularity of esports and innovations in PC gaming rigs, the gaming community is growing in size, diversity and inclusiveness. Gamers are not shy about sharing their love of gaming with others and inviting others to share in the enjoyment, with 27% having introduced three to four friends or family members to gaming, and 25% having introduced five or more. With the accelerated pace gaming is going mainstream, it’s safe to bet those unfamiliar with gaming will start to see it pop up in their daily lives before they know it.

Why do people say they game? People are increasingly turning to videogames for relaxation (60% of respondents), passing the time (51%) and relieving stress (49%). A little under half (40%) of gamers are not concerned with their skill level, yet ironically, no one likes to identify as a “noob” (gamer code for the new kid on the block). Just under 6% identified as noobs, while 14% consider themselves to be just beyond noob level; 40% identify as casual gamers, 25% as “pretty darn good”, and 8% feel they can compete with pro gamers. And fun fact, gaming for a living can net a pretty penny with some of the top players bringing in as much as $500,000 a month for their videos.

A Diverse Community

Once the dominion of young men, gaming has become a welcoming community, accepting of whomever is behind the computer. When it comes to being matched with rival gamers, culture/ethnicity (8%), political views (7%), and sexual orientation (6%) are for the most part inconsequential to a player. What matters most is the other gamer’s skill level (40%).

Only 14% of gamers said they care about the gender of the rivals they are matched with online, which could explain the sharp increase in female gamers in recent year. One in two players (47%) has a female friend who plays videogames. Almost a third (29%) have a sister who plays, and 21% said their daughter does. Only 17% of gamers reported a need to recruit more women to their gaming community ((male (17%) vs. female gamers (16%)), though a quarter of teenagers (25%) wanted to create a more welcoming environment for female players.

Debunked: Gamers don’t have lives

Contrary to outdated stereotypes about the reclusive gamer, many lead busy lives with many outside interests. When not gaming, their attention is spent on music (63%) and spending time with family (59%) or friends (55%). Traveling (50%) and reading and writing (46%) were also popular. Players in Brazil (52%), France (58%), and Canada (49%) in particular were more inclined than others to have a curiosity to want to learn about new things.

Gamers in Brazil (46%), China (46%), and India (41%) enjoy breaking a sweat to stay fit, while Canadian gamers prioritize quality time with family (68%), friends (64%), and pets (40%). Their American neighbors are more inclined than anyone to spend time with their pets (45%) and are almost as sports-mad as the PC gamers from India are (46% vs. 58%).

Sharpening the brain

Gaming isn’t just playtime – it can also hone beneficial skills. Close to four out of 10 survey respondents said that, because of gaming, they are more strategic thinkers (39%), have improved hand-eye coordination (37%) and increased reaction time (36%). Some even perceive that their teamwork (27%) and leadership (18%) skills have improved. This aligns with research conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia who found teens who were regular gamers scored higher than average in math, reading and science on an international exam.

The more advanced the gamer, the more likely they are to report skill development. Half of gamers at pro level (54%) claimed that gaming has made them more strategic thinkers, while 36% of casual players and 30% of noobs said the same. Similar patterns occur for technology skills: 42% of pros said they are more tech savvy compared to 18% of casual players and only 14% of noobs.

Gamers are Willing to self-sacrifice but even have limits

Gamers spend a median of six to nine hours per week playing video games with 25% spending 10-19 hours and one out of five gamers (21%) spending 20 or more hours per week playing.

Players say they know gaming is their priority when they feel like sacrificing sleep (37%) and eating (27%). Yet today’s gamers are unlikely to skip out on social commitments for gaming, with less than one in four saying they would bail on holiday celebrations (23%), a friend’s celebration (21%), a family birthday (18%), or a professional sporting event (also 18%) to game instead.

Respondents would be willing to give up a lot just to play video games, including candy/sweets (28%), their favorite television show (23%) and social media (23%). As might be expected, younger gamers (39 years and younger) are willing to give more things up than those 40 and up.

While skill level is important, losing is not the end of the world. Only 23% said that losing an intense match is worse than a low battery, 20% that it is worse than traffic jams, and 19% that it is worse than a cold shower.

The virtual future of gaming

While Dell leads in VR with the most PC options in the market that support VR headsets, only 30% of respondents said they play virtual reality, augmented reality and/or mixed reality PC games, an average of six hours per week. Even with the growing accessibility of VR headsets and VR systems, there is still great opportunity for VR growth amongst PC gamers.  When asked what they are most excited about when they think about the future of gaming, nearly a quarter mentioned tetherless VR (24%) and 20% mentioned virtual arcades.

Australia/New Zealand Local Findings:

  • Gaming is friendly! Almost 30% of ANZ gamers have made new friends through gaming and almost a quarter (24%) have become closer to friends.
  • ANZ gamers are not sore losers with less than a quarter (23%) stating losing an intense match is worse than receiving telemarketing calls, 21% saying a low battery, 20% traffic jams and 19% stubbing a toe or computer updates.
  • ANZ gamers are loud and proud! When called “gamer”, 30% said they feel fun, 29% cool, a quarter feel competitive and 21% are proud.
  • What will ANZ gamers give up to continue gaming? Seems sweets are the easiest to give up with almost a third willing to ignore their sweet tooth. Playing barefoot is not a problem with 21% willing to give up their shoes, while less than 20% are willing to give up social media and Netflix – caffeine must help fuel gamers on as only 20% are willing to give up the energy boost. ANZ gamers are less likely to give up social media when compared to the global gaming community (23%).
  • Today’s ANZ gamers are more social with only 20% saying they would bail on holiday celebrations, 18% on a friend’s celebration and 17% on a family member’s birthday, in order to continue gaming.
  • However, almost half (45%) are willing to forgo a good night’s sleep and 29% are happy to skip meals to keep the game alive.
  • ANZ gamers believe that gaming is helping improve beneficial skills such as problem solving (43%), strategic thinking (42%), faster hand and eye coordination (40%), increased reaction time (35%), a competitive drive (32%) and teamwork skills (26%).
  • Just over a quarter (26%) of ANZ gamers think they’re ‘pretty damn good’ when it comes to their skill level, while 44% aren’t at all concerned with their skill level, they’re just in it for the fun!
  • ANZ gamers don’t just love games – almost two thirds are into music, 60% love spending time with their friends and 56% with their family. Gamers also love travelling (43%), reading and writing (42%), watching sports (39%) and working out (33%).
  • What would get ANZ gamers out of their chair during an intense gaming session? Having to answer nature’s call is the most likely say more than half (53%). Having a prior appointment and needing to be somewhere was second (46%), must… go… to… sleep was a close third (45%) along with a hungry, grumbling stomach (45%).
  • Mum, get off the computer! 13% of ANZ gamers have mothers who game and 2% have grandmothers!

 

“The profile of the ‘gamer’ is changing in Australia and New Zealand. Gaming is becoming more mainstream and its’ popularity continues to grow. The increasing following and participation in esports has seen many local gamers turn their passion into a profession.

Gaming, like any other sport, promotes camaraderie, a sense of community, competitive spirit, strategic thinking, as well as increased cognitive ability. The benefits of gaming – aside from being a fun, entertaining and exciting pastime – are becoming more recognised, even by those who don’t game. It’s exciting to see our local esports pros competing on a global scale and inspiring the next generation of ANZ gamers.” – Ben Jackson, General Manager, Consumer & Small Business, Dell, Australia and New Zealand

Survey Methodology

Researchscape conducted an online survey of 5,763 videogame players, age 14-87, from 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, UK and U.S.) and in six languages in order to better understand gaming habits, attitudes and the wider gaming community. To qualify for the study, respondents had to play videogames on desktops or laptops and had to play for at least an hour a week. They did not need to identify as gamers, and 7% said they did not. The survey was fielded from Dec. 9, 2017, to Jan. 30, 2018.

Nearly half of respondents were in their 20s (26%) or 30s (22%); 12% were teenagers (14-17). Gamers were split nearly evenly male (52%) and female (47%). Many were married and living with a spouse (42%) or a partner (15%), and half had children or stepchildren (52%).


 

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