Gamers play against type: Avid online role-players do not fit gamer stereotypes, survey finds

Sep 24, 2008

Participants in the role-playing game EverQuest II defy the stereotype of the overweight male teenager, researchers reported this month in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

The average age of the 7,000 players surveyed was 31, said first author Dmitri Williams, assistant professor in the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

"We found that older players were more typical," Williams said. There were more players in their 30s than in their 20s, and playing time tended to increase with age.

In addition, while women made up only 20 percent of players, they logged more time in the game than their male counterparts.

"The hardcore players are the women," Williams said. "They play more hours, they're less likely to quit."

Players also stated that they exercise vigorously once or twice a week – more than most people – and their reported height and weight showed that they are slightly overweight, but still 10 percent leaner than the average American.

Even assuming a modest amount of under-reporting, the survey suggests that serious gamers resemble the general population in overall fitness.

The fitness data point to an intriguing difference between television and online game experiences.

The researchers cited studies showing that time spent watching television is related to poor health outcomes and fewer servings of fruits and vegetables. But EverQuest II players do not appear to fit this profile.

On the popular virtual worlds blog Terra Nova, a comment about the EverQuest II survey blamed commercials for television viewers' poor health habits (terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova… who-plays-how-m.html).

The results conformed to stereotypes in some respects. Data provided by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs the game, showed that players spent a large amount of time in-game: 26 hours per week on average.

Survey respondents were roughly 50 percent more likely to have had a depression diagnosis than the population at large. The rate of substance addiction was about 20 percent higher than normal.

On the other hand, players reported slightly lower levels of anxiety than the general population.

The researchers warned against inferring that online gaming compromises mental health. It may be that individuals with mental health issues play the game as a form of self-medication, or that individuals with these issues are simply more attracted to the game, they said. The lower anxiety may reflect players' efforts to regulate their moods through play.

Source: University of Southern California

Explore further: Classic videogame Tetris to be made into a movie

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft delays launch of Xbox in China

Sep 22, 2014

Microsoft, which was due to launch the Xbox One in China on Tuesday, has said it will put back the "historic" event to later this year, slowing what was billed as the first game console to enter the market ...

Alibaba's plan: Today, China. Tomorrow, the world.

Sep 18, 2014

Amazon and eBay should watch their backs. As Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba readies what could be the biggest initial public offering ever on the New York Stock Exchange, it is quietly hinting at plans ...

Hit 'Just Dance' game goes mobile Sept. 25

Sep 18, 2014

Smartphone lovers will get to show off moves almost anywhere with the Sept. 25 release of a free "Just Dance Now" game tuned for mobile Internet lifestyles.

Recommended for you

California bans paparazzi drones

Oct 01, 2014

California on Tuesday approved a law which will prevent paparazzi from using drones to take photos of celebrities, among a series of measures aimed at tightening protection of privacy.

Remote healthcare for an aging population

Sep 30, 2014

An aging population and an increased incidence of debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease means there is pressure on technology to offer assistance with healthcare - monitoring and treatment. Research ...

User comments : 0