Typical video gamer is middle-aged, educated and female, Nesta study finds

The average gamer is female, middle-aged, well-educated and passionate about arts, according to research which states that video games are as culturally significant as high art.

The study carried out by Nesta, a charity that calls itself “the innovation foundation”, used data from the government’s Taking Part Survey of 10,000 adults to look at the characteristics of video game players and their cultural participation.

It found that women were more likely to play games than men — albeit less frequently — and that the average gamer was 43 years old.

Half of all European adults play video games, yet the industry, which is worth $106.6 billion (£81 billion) worldwide, is in the wings when it comes to cultural significance.

Hasan Bakhshi, executive director of creative economy and data analytics at Nesta, said that the government should invest in the gaming industry as it does with the arts.

“Over the last ten years we’ve seen a growing recognition of the economic contribution that the games industry makes but on culture it’s a very different story,” he said.

“The government makes huge public investments in culture, with bodies such as Arts Council England and Creative Scotland but cultural discussions don’t typically consider gaming an integral part of the story.

“There is still an unhelpful distinction between high art and mainstream culture. In previous decades people dismissed the cultural significance of television, the same is being done with games. This report shows quite strikingly that there’s no contradiction between playing games and engaging with what is considered higher forms of art and culture — they go together.”

The UK video game market is worth £4.33 billion and it has become an important contributor to the national economy.

The findings of the report entitled Did you really take a hit? will be presented to the government to inform cultural policy and public investment.

Mr Bakhshi said that the findings would also be used to encourage the next generation to enter the industry. “There are still certain stereotypes about the games industry in the minds of parents and carers, which means they may not be encouraging creative talent to join the sector,” he said.

“We want to dispel some of these myths. Gaming is not just about putting on a headset and playing the latest game on a PS4 in your room any more. People are playing in public on their smartphone or with people online live. It’s a social phenomenon.”


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