Earnest’s Demographic of Video Gaming

Earnest, a technology company that analyzes data pulled from loan applications, surveys, and/or publicly available data sources released their finding on the demographics of video game consumers. In this case, they pulled their data from student loan refinancing applications. Data sets on video games usages and gamers are relatively rare so I figured I’d examine their findings and share. Despite the less than ideal data source, let’s examine what their key findings were:

Key Takeaway

  • Younger people, especially those aged 18-24, are more likely to make video game-related purchases than older individuals.
  • Men are more than three times as likely to make gaming purchases than women.
  • Individuals with high school diplomas or Associate degrees are the most likely to make gaming purchases, while dentists are the least likely.
  • People making more than $90,000 are less likely to make gaming purchases than their lower-earning counterparts.
  • People are less likely to make video game purchases the more time has elapsed since they graduated from their highest degree program.

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There’s some interesting findings here, some of which reinforce or challenge the Electronic Software Associations. The disparity between male and female game purchasers is significantly higher than the findings of ESA,  who found that men are the purchasers of video games about 63% of the time (compared to 37% for females). Likewise, the finding that 18-24 years are the ones most likely to make gaming purchases conflicts with finding that the average purchaser of video game content is 36 years old.

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This graph I find particularly interesting, because it exemplifies how video games as a medium is a relatively universally participated one. You see some minor dips, especially as income increases, but for the most part there isn’t a huge difference across income levels. As the report points out, some of this may also be tied to age and profession; as one earns more they are often more set in their careers, older, and perhaps have less time for video games.

I’d be interested to see survey myself and to get a little more information about sample size and general demographics of respondents, but this report does provide an interesting perspective that we may not get in other large scale data sets.  You can check out the entire report here: https://www.earnest.com/blog/the-demographics-of-video-gaming/

Follow me on Twitter @Socialvideogame

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Presentation on Capitalism and Video Games at San Diego State University

I’ll be presenting at the “Capitalism: Culture and the Individual” on April 14th at San Diego State University.  The presentation, entitled “Now You’re Playing With Power: Video Games and Capitalism”, will focus on how video games have contributed to a continued capitalist global ethic and an extension of empire. The presentation will also look into how video games may combat capitalism, and how video games may be the medium to implement counter-capitalist ideology. 

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The conference is free to the public and will feature presentations on an array of subjects across the theme of capitalism and culture. My presentation will be apart of a panel focusing on capitalism and entertainment, but the entire day should foster some great conversations. The conference will conclude with a keynote presentation by Dr. Timothy Taylor of UCLA.

You can find out more about the conference, as well as a detailed schedule, here: https://sociologygrads.wixsite.com/capitalismconference

Follow me on Twitter @Socialvideogame

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2017 ESA Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has published their annual report about the computer and video game industry. This yearly report is an invaluable asset for researcher looking for statistics and figures concerning video game usage and consumption, as the ESA is the foremost collectors of this type of data. Each year they’re kind enough to report their findings, so let’s take a look at what this year’s report found.

Who is playing

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More and more people are playing games, and the stereotype of video games being relegated to young boys is a thing of the past. The “average gamer” has seen an age decrease across both genders, with 2016’s report finding the average female was 44 and the average male gamer was 35. Nonetheless,  the demographics of the gaming community is shifting towards being an activity participated across all ages. Female gamers above the age of 18 make up significantly larger population of the gaming community than men under the age of 18. That may sound unimportant, but consider it in relation to the general cultural perception of video gaming be a teenage boy activity.

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Despite gains in the community, male gamers still make up the most frequent purchasers of video games. Considering that free-to-play titles are often a popular genre of games for females, this statistic may be slightly misleading as to who is actually playing games.

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It is now more likely to have a gamer in your household than it is not to. The percentage of households that have at least one person who plays 3 or more hours a week has seen a slight increase from 2015 (63%). With this percentage growing each year, more and more we are moving towards a culture in which playing video games is the norm.

Who Are Gamers Playing With?

We’ve established that gamers are playing, but who are they playing with? With an increase in the number of online enabled games and access to online multiplayer platforms increasingly becoming easier each year, it’s not unreasonable to assume that more people are playing together.

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The numbers suggest that people are connecting through games, with the majority of gamers believing gaming to be a way to connect with friends. This statistic falls in line with contemporary research on how gamers view multiplayer interaction within their lives. The amount of time spent online vs. playing in person has actually shrunk from 2015, with gamers playing half an hour more with individuals in person in 2016. With developers such as Nintendo investing considerable attention in local multiplayer, particularly with the newly released Switch, it will be interesting to see how this figure changes next year. All of this is to say that people are using gaming as a way to connect with those around them, including their family members and spouses.

parentsTo go along with those findings, the amount of parental approval of video games has stayed steady with a very slight decrease from 2015 (68%). Despite this decrease, the majority of parents are found to believe video games are a positive influence on their kids’ lives and nearly all parents control the games their kids play in some way.

Other Findings:

  • Games are big money: the video game industry is continuing to grow, with the industry growing to 30.4 Billion from 23.5 Billion in 2015.
  • Bang for your buck: most gamers believe video games to be a better value for their money than music, movies, and dvds combined.
  • Digital Games are on the rise: digital purchases now make up 74% of all sales, with an increase from 69% in 2015.
  • Video Games are good for America: Video games added more than 11 billion to the GDP of the US in 2016.

Some great information for social science researcher to use to analyze video games and gamers. I left out a good deal of findings, so I definitely recommend checking out the actual report from the ESA. All graphics and pictures were pulled directly from the ESA’s report.

Follow me on twitter at @SocialVideoGame

Google Releases Findings on What Teens Find Cool

How do you do, fellow Kids?

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Google today released  It’s Lit: A Guide to What Teens Think is Cool  a report of the brands, technology, and products teens think are cool. Of the topics covered in the report are what teens think are the coolest video games and video games brands. It’s rare that we see a huge company like Google conduct such forms of qualitative research (and share it), so I thought it would be worth looking at.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the theme of the the whole report. It’s…grabbing?  From the name of the report “It’s Lit” to the usage of headlines like “Gen Z are the most aware generations in recent history”, it’s definitely trying to pander to a certain crowd. Likewise, its attempts at presenting the data seems like a shallow attempt to come off as cool itself; from the terminology being used to the overall design of the report. Google is clearly targeting a specific audience with this report and evaluating a reports presentation, focus, and scope is an important step in analyzing it’s validity and purpose. I can poke fun at how ironically uncool this presentation manner comes off for hours, but let’s move on and look at the actually findings:

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The report finds that the most popular video games  amongst teens are, surprise surprise, the most popular games. The part of this I do find interesting is the reports usage of  descriptions as to why teens like video games. “It’s no wonder most teen boys see video games as a cool escape from reality”. That’s an odd statement that seems to come out of no where, and I’m not completely sure if it’s something they polled for or if it’s something they’re just pulling out of no where.

The narrative of video games prevalence being in part due to its escapism aspects is certainly true, but studies have found that it’s often not the leading cause for why people choose video games. Granted they follow up with more options as to why people choose it, but even those options feel as if it’s interjection added in by the report.

Here are the final two findings regarding video games, and even they are not all that controversial. It’s not unreasonable that a younger generation finds X-Box as the “coolest” video game company, considering that Microsoft has done a considerable amount to appeal to the younger demographic and appear hip and cool. The second graphic of brands is…Odd. To think that teens are saying “oreo”, “doritios” and “chrome” are the coolest of brands sounds almost as if it was a made up as a joke. I’m not questioning their validity, but I do wonder if these answers were perhaps some what leaded.  Which brings us to their methods:

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It sounds like a solid piece of research, but I’d be interested to see what the actual poll looked like. I wonder if the poll was open ended or if it had specific answers for respondents to pick from. If the later was true, I think that would explain answers like “oreo” and “chrome” as appearing as the coolest brands.

In the end, it’s all a bit silly. This market research is attempting to label what is cool by the usage of products, as if they have some inherent value besides what we place upon them. It’s the ultimate capitalist research: we’re defining teens sense of “coolness” by products and things we can consume and buy. Any sort of philosophical or analytical thoughts of why things are “cool” are left to the background and almost completely left out of the findings.

Regardless, it’s interesting to see how a massive corporation like Google collect, interpret, and present data.

Games Studies and The Sociology of Video Games

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Having started upon a path towards advanced degrees with an emphasis in interactive media and online communities, it has increasingly become evident to me that there is no singular route to studying the emerging field of video games. As I have mentioned in the past, video games uniquely fall at the cross section of multiple disciplines, each with varying ways to analyze and interpret the social significance going on in these digital worlds.

Anthropology, Media Studies, Psychology, and, of course, Sociology, all offer valuable insights for researchers setting out upon this path towards the academia of video games, but the road isn’t probably the neatly paved one you hope it be. Academia, for all it affords and fails to be, is still a regimented system of bureaucracies and categories; those seeking to study video games in any of the aforementioned fields will undoubtedly come across hurdles and pitfalls. Despite this, we push on: we make concessions and we work at expanding the field inches at a time. A triumph has arisen in the developing field of  Game Studies, an interdisciplinary field for all of these traditional academic interests and more.

What is Game Studies?

Wikipedia (The student in me is rebelling) defines Game Studies as

The study of games, the act of playing them, and the players and cultures surrounding them. It is a discipline of cultural studies that deals with all types of games throughout history. This field of research utilizes the tactics of, at least, anthropology, sociology and psychology, while examining aspects of the design of the game, the players in the game, and finally, the role the game plays in its society or culture. Game studies is oftentimes confused with the study of video games, but this is only one area of focus; in reality game studies encompasses all types of gaming, including sports, board games, etc.

That all sounds great! But what does that all encompass? This really is a large umbrella term that captures multidisciplinary research across the vast subject matter of gaming. This isn’t to be confused with game design, which of course is a vastly different discipline centered around the creation of games themselves. The best place to start to understand Game Studies would be with the theory behind it. A foundational theory connecting these discipline comes from Dutch theorist Johan Huizinga in his extensive exploration into how play connects society and culture. To summarize in the most simplistic way, Huizinga believes that play is an essential part of the cultural membrane that connects, one that brings people together and sets rules and boundaries to define the rules of play.  This theory of play, originally formulated in the 1938  book Homo Ludens, has been expanded, reevaluated, and used to understand the cultural significance of gaming, even as it has evolved to to reach highly technological heights.

What role play holds in our life is an incredibly open and complex question, with endless angles for it to be tackled. Authors like Jesper Juul, Ian Bogost, Tracy Fullerton,and Jane McGonigal  have taken upon this question in vastly different ways and they are just the start. My current research has led me to tackle this issue from a different take as well: evaluating what role deviance and punishment play in virtual worlds. Still, there is much to be explored and much to understand. Game Studies sounds to be a haven for all these inquiries and more.

What’s the Issues?

You may be thinking “Well, that sounds all great. Why aren’t we [academics interested in video games] all just flocking to Game Studies then?” .  Unfortunately it’s not as easy as just that.  Academia  is slow to move and currently there are no programs that offer advanced degrees in game studies. Fortunately, Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg of The University of Southern California has been nice enough to put together a guide to obtaining a PhD in Game Studies. Their advice? Get in where you can. Find universities that have academics and professors who work and write in Game Studies, applying to their departments or related ones.  Graduate programs are often about who you know, so such a recommendation is definitely valuable; find individuals you want to work with, not schools that you want to go to on name alone.

Of course graduate programs aren’t for everyone, and one is certainly able to contribute to the field without an advanced degree. For those not wishing to  go back to school, the best thing I think one can do is create work and submit it to the appropriate sources. For all of you lovely game enthusiasts, an online journal for game studies has  been created: Game Studies.

The Journal’s mission statement is:

To explore the rich cultural genre of games; to give scholars a peer-reviewed forum for their ideas and theories; to provide an academic channel for the ongoing discussions on games and gaming.

Sounds perfect…Now to just produce something worthwhile.

All of this is to say that we, gaming academics, have options and avenues available to us. It won’t be an easy route, but perhaps will prove to be a fruitful one.  I am of course not in any way a Game Studies expert, so any oversights or generalizations can be attributed to ignorance. Of course I’m always willing to learn more, so if you have any insight or information that you feel I am leaving out, please let me know.

I hope this post was helpful. For any regulars (the few of you), I apologize for the lack of posts. Graduate school has a way of making you not feel like writing in your free time. I’m hoping to write and share more in the coming weeks.  And now it’s time for me to bury myself in piles of graduate assignments and research.

New Research Finds Adult Men are Choosing Video Games Over Full-Time Work

It’s the end times my friends: Video games are destroying our economy.

New research coming out the Princeton, The University of Chicago, and University of Rochester has found a correlation between the abundance of high quality video games and uneducated adult men choosing to remain out of the workforce. The study itself isn’t yet available, but the Washington Post has a good summary of the study’s findings and an evaluation of what they may mean.

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The study compares unemployment rates of adult men with happiness levels and screen time usage and found that, despite having higher unemployment rates than in previous years, adult men are on average reporting having higher levels of happiness, which is potentially tied to their increase in average video game usage. It’s a pretty interesting study with some pretty big implications:

While young men might temporarily enjoy a life of leisure, the implications could be troubling for them as well as the economy. The young men aren’t gaining job experience that will better equip them to work in their 30s and 40s. That, in turn, could lead to a lifetime of decreased wages, limited opportunities and challenges such as depression and drug use — problems that the United States is already seeing in areas hit with heavy job losses.

These are interesting findings, and in some way makes logical sense: the abundance of media is making people more content, unemployed or not. However, there are potentially other variables that are effecting this relationship. It’s not absurd to think that a contributing factor to adult men not entering the work force is because of the entry level job have been considerably reduced in recent decades due to shrinking opportunities for the working class: rather than enter the work force working for Mcdonalds and making next to little money, many adult men choose to stay at home and focus on their happiness instead.

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For an economist, these are certainly concerning findings because they exemplify how potentially disenfranchised uneducated adult men are with job opportunities. At the same time, it’s positive to see that happiness levels are steadily rising, potentially because of video games. Whats bad for the economy may be good for the individual.

I would need to read the entire study, including their methods, to make a better critique and analysis of it, but it’s great to see video games gradually become a more researched field. I highly recommend at least reading the Washington Post article as the research does do a good job of looking at the whole picture. Video games are important sociological variables that are pervading in all parts of society, so it’s great to see different disciplines starting to struggle with their place in society.

Block’Hood: Can a Video Game Change How We Design a City?

Releasing tomorrow as an early access title on Steam is Block’hood,  an isometric neighborhood-building simulator. The game gives players more than 80 types of blocks to create unique and ecological neighborhoods and promotes players to find the optimum solution to creating cost efficient, sustainable communities.

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“Block”, the project’s first incarnation, was developed inside The University of Southern California’s School of Architecture as a open-source game that thought to plan the Los Angeles of tomorrow. Now, as Block’Hood, the game is open to the public and  has expanded its reach to designing the communities of tomorrow using cost efficient and resource smart practices. The game offers various ways of play including a “research mode”, a mode that requires players to play with real world values in mind, and a challenge mode that gives player specific scenarios and resource allocation to solve a building dilemma. With a message of conservation and  forethought towards building communities, resources management in the game is key to building a healthy city, for cities and buildings that don’t receive proper resource allocation and design will begin to decay and crumble.

The game will also be a tool of research, as the developers will share player creation and findings with academic communities and publications to further develop a better understanding towards how we can create better communities. With Block’hood being used as a tool for the academic community to use and discuss, the game has the potential to be much more than just a simulator.

This probably sounds like a advertisement for a game that isn’t even out. I haven’t had the chance to give it a try, but it sounds like a unique tool for those who are interested in architecture and community planning. Video games have developed to a point in which they have the potential to serve similar practical implementations in specific industry as more specialized complex programs. I’m not suggesting games like Block’hood replace programs like AutoCad or any advanced programs, but it’s great to see video games being developed to give the general public a taste of what goes into an industry they may not be apart of. It sounds trivial, but the designers and creators of the communities of tomorrow are the gamers building vast worlds in games like Minecraft. If a game can harness that curiosity and give the player the educational tools to make smart and practical decisions, then our future may be all the more brighter for it.  Even for those of us who won’t be the next generation of designers or architects, games like Block’Hood promote a better understanding of how we as a community use valuable resources and the cost our creations take on our environment and homes.

For us sociologist, we can observe Block’hood as another facet of society that video games have built their way into. This augmentation of society through video games is what is at the heart of the sociology of video games, as the more ingrained the medium becomes in our society the more we need to evaluate video games as a social institution. How we use video games and let them evoke change in our society has remained to be seen it is full extent, but games like Block’Hood point towards the medium being used for the betterment of society.

At the very least, the game looks like a fun lego-like creator for adults…So it has that going for it.

You can read a piece about Block’hood’s development from an academic tool to video game here!

 

 

 

ESA: Essential Facts About Gamers and Politics

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Oh Electronic Software Association, you’ve given me an early Christmas present. The ESA is the foremost data collector of statistics and data on video game consumption, usage, and attitudes.  Annually this blog reports on their essential facts about video game consumption, but today they’ve released a special report on their findings on how politically engaged gamers are. They’ve created a easy to read infographic of all of these statistics that I will be pulling from.

Now that were are officially a year away from the 2016 election, such statistics are as timely as ever. Spoiler alert: Most gamers  don’t think America’s leadership is a monarchy ruled by Princess Zelda.

votingThe results are overwhelmingly positive: gamers are very politically engaged. In a survey that asked whether or not they would vote in the 2016 election, 80% of gamers said they were going to exercise their right to vote. This is in comparison to non-gamers, which had a percentage of 75% respondents saying they were going to vote in next years election.

“100 million gamers will vote next year…Gamers are engaged, informed and hold strong opinions on critical issues. From both sides of the aisle, and in every state across the country, they will influence the course of our nation’s future.”

partyIn terms of political party, gamers are split even with an equal amount identifying as
Republican and Demographics. This doesn’t surprise me all that much, as it closely represents the general demographics on the United States, further showing that gamers are the general population. That said, significantly more gamers identify as conservative than liberal. Why gamers skew heavily social conservative is beyond me, and on what issues they lean conservative isn’t specified

Lastly the survey looked at what gamers think about specific issues.

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There’s some really interesting insights into how they fall on issues and this is really one of the first studies to actually ask these specific questions.  Despite the majority classifying themselves as “conservative” their political leanings on issues definitely have some socially liberal slants.

With the statistics out of the way, we can hypothesize as to why gamers tend to be more politically active than non-gamers (or at least say they are). It could certainly have something to do with their connection to online communities; video game communities are gathering places for people to discuss on-going issues. Places like NeoGaf’s off-topic forums ignite intellectual debates in their threads, and this creates public awareness for issues people may not typically come across in their daily lives. Whatever the reason for this political engagement, it’s a beautiful thing to see gamers getting politically active. There are issues out there that concern all gamers; A more politically engaged community is one that has a greater voice.

I think Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, says it best in the ESA press release:

What is so striking about this research is how deeply mainstreamed video games have become in our culture…The views of gamers are as diverse as the nation itself, and there can be little doubt now that playing video games is a near universal activity at the very core now of the national experience in the U.S.”

Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been saying that for years…Yeah, I’m cool.

Please head over the ESA website and support this type of research. We need more of this stuff, it really does make for a more educated and informed video game community.

Pew Research Center’s 2015 Findings on Console Ownership

Less progressive parts of the gaming community are in an uproar today, as a new survey suggest that more American women own video game consoles than their male counterparts. Should chauvinistic males flee the medium for fear of cooties? We’ll look into that finding and more!

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The Pew Research Group is a well respected, non-partisan ,and non-advocacy research group that gathers data on public issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. This week they released their findings on technology device ownership, ranging from tablets to video game consoles. It’s great data to comb through, but I’ll be focusing specifically on the findings of console ownership.

Let me start of my saying this: It’s ridiculous that there is a backlash to this survey. Read any article reporting this survey and you’ll be met with juvenile comments from people saying it’s poor research, a conspiracy of sorts, or a sign that video games are going to hell. Regardless of the validity of the data,  such comments and responses prove that there still exists a vocal minority that represent backwards and offensive views. If this survey is true, we as a community should be thrilled that this once male dominated medium is now a more inclusive one. A diverse video game community is a stronger community and  these negative views do not represent the entire video game community.

With that said, lets examine the finding:

The number that is grabbing the most headlines is the finding that 42% of women own video game consoles, while only 37% of men own a console.  This result is contrary to what most would assume, as the ESA report on video game consumption found that male gamers were still in the majority. However, it’s not as inconceivable as it once was; female gamers are on the rise and they make up nearly half of the gaming population.

With that said, there are certain consideration to think about when looking at this data, such as does this data include respondents who are parents and own video game consoles because their children? Likewise, does this include respondents who bought video game consoles because of their multimedia uses and not their video game uses, and would otherwise not consider themselves “gamers”?  Although we don’t have an answer for these questions and these aren’t suggestions for why the data is as it is, such questions allow us to better interpret and hypothesize about the data in front of us. To create a better picture of console ownership, additional probing questions would have to be asked.

Next the survey looks specifically at the breakdown of race in regards to console ownership. This data is actually quite interesting if only for the fact that it’s not something most research groups typically delve into when conducting research concerning video game demographics. That said, it’s not all that surprising; the percentage of people who play video games is relatively similar across each race.

Likewise, the data on educational attainment  and community type is relatively unremarkable. It is worth noting that the educational attainment data is mostly tied directly with financial ability to purchase video games.

As stated at the bottom of the survey, the sample size surveyed was 948 respondents. This is a pretty healthy sample size; more could be included, but it’s viable enough to work off of.  The Research Group goes into their complete methodology behind the survey for anyone with lingering doubts about the survey. Given that, should we take all of this data at face value? Not necessarily. As I mentioned, this data doesn’t give the complete picture. There may be reasons why certain stats are what they are, but the data does  gives us a better picture than we had before.

In all, this isn’t the most earth shattering survey response. Not all data is shocking or dramatic, a lot of time surveys just confirm what we mostly assume. However, it’s important for groups like the Pew Research Group to conduct these surveys because they give us the raw data that we need to formulate our arguments and theories. They’re out there doing the hard work for us. No body wants me calling 948 people asking about whether or not they have video games, I swear.

Report on the Status of Teens’ Use of Technology in Social Life

The PEW Research Group has recently released their 2nd  of 3 reports on “Teens, Technology &  Friendships”. PEW, which describes themselves as  “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”,  has conducted extensive research to academically confirm something we all probably know: Teenagers are using technology  to maintain social relationships.

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If you’re mind has just been blown, please take sometime to compose yourself and in the near future you might want to reconnect with society (Google has self-driving cars now, don’t be scared). The report itself is actually pretty insightful and explores how teenagers use video games in their social life more thoroughly than any study I have seen previously. It’s obviously isn’t going to be ground breaking conclusions, but a big part of sociology is academically documenting and observing trends in society.

There’s a lot of information we could go over, most of which dealing with how teens are using social media sites and apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to create and maintain social ties, but for the sake of only going over what most pertinently concerns this blog we’ll only be delving into the report as it concerns video games. LET’S JUMP IN:

“52% of all teens spend time with friends playing video games; 13% play with friends daily.”

In line with what the ESA reported on video game usage for 2015, this statistic doesn’t surprise me. Gamers in general are becoming more and more social, so it’s only natural that you’d see teenagers take advantage of this as well. Games like World of Warcraft and Halo are cited as specific games that have been used as tools for socialization within teen social groups.

“Overall, 72% of teens ages 13 to 17 play video games on a computer, game console or portable device. Fully 84% of boys play video games, significantly higher than the 59% of girls who play games. Playing video games is not necessarily a solitary activity; teens frequently play video games with others. Teen gamers play games with others in person (83%) and online (75%), and they play games with friends they know in person (89%) and friends they know only online (54%). They also play online with others who are not friends (52%).

This is a little confusing to read because of all the numbers. The way to read these numbers is the percentage of respondents that fell into that group. Don’t try and add them up, as individuals may fall into multiple categories (for example, a teen may respond  that he plays online regularly with friends he met online AND plays with people who are not friends).

What’s interesting here is to examine just how much video games have pervaded our culture. On whole 42%* of Americans play video games regularly, so for 72% of teenagers to play video games  regularly one can hypothesize that the number of Americans who play games regularly will probably continue to go up year to year. Likewise, just the sheer number of teens playing online is remarkable. 10 years ago that amount probably would have been halved. It’s not all that surprising, what with all major consoles being online  and the majority of AAA games having some sort of online mode, but it’s dazzling to see for someone who grew up in an era in which video games were mostly a solitary activity.

  • -38% of all teen boys share their gaming handle as one of the first three pieces of information exchanged when they meet someone they would like to be friends with; just 7% of girls share a gaming handle when meeting new friends.

  • -Of teens who have met a friend online, 57% of boys have made a friend playing video games. That amounts to 34% of all teenage boys ages 13 to 17.

These two are particularly interesting, just because these aren’t the type of statistics most studies will look into.  It makes sense that a good portion of teens making friends online would do so in a video games, as it’s a common ground for people to meet and share something they’re both interested in.  If anything, I’m more interested what the relationships of people meeting in others  online grounds would be; forums potentially have the same effect, but social media sites are more of an oddity in my mind. Regardless, it shows that technology is being used in various ways to strengthen and even create relationships.

When playing games with others online, many teen gamers (especially boys) connect with their fellow players via voice connections in order to engage in collaboration, conversation and trash-talking. Among boys who play games with others online, fully 71% use voice connections to engage with other players (this compares with just 28% of girls who play in networked environments).

This one is the statistic I found to be the most interesting, as one might be able surmise a bigger problem at work.  With 59% of girls playing video games, it’s surprising that only 28% responded that they play with voice communications. In a interview by Kotaku, a lead author of the report concluded that this means only about 9% of girls playing video games are using voice communication in online games. Why the low number? The study unfortunately does not go into why this may be, but if I had to guess I would say they may be a mix of practical and troubling reasons for the community. I don’t want to make assumptions, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the reasons found were because teens girls had negative experiences when playing online with others. I’ll leave it there.

This chart is exemplifies this gender difference between how male and females are using video game communities. For boys, video games are being used as social outlets in the same way text messaging and social media is being used, which is something one might not automatically assume.

There’s much more in depth analysis in the report itself, which can be found here in its entirety. The grand take way to the entire report is that technology isn’t causing the social relationships of teens to diminish. Yes, teens aren’t connecting the same way they did 20 years ago, but they’re still connecting and the social bonds they create aren’t any less real or solid. Technology, in many ways, is augmenting the ways we connect with others and even allowing us to reach groups and people that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with.  So, the next time you see a teen on their phone don’t scoff or dream of the “good ol’ days”, just realize that society advances and restructures how we socialize.

*Data from ESA 2015 Report

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