I Am The Average Australian Gamer

He is 32 years old. He is male. He plays daily, usually for one hour. He is a Father. There are at least three screens in his household. Sometimes he plays video games to keep his mind active, but mostly he just plays to relieve stress. He is the average Australian gamer.

Today the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, together with Bond University, released its annual Digital Australia report. The headline is a familiar one: video games are mainstream. They are played by a large chunk of the Australian population. Video games are normal.

It’s ‘hardly’ news. Hardly. I say ‘hardly’ because even if the headline doesn’t change it’s still important to remind ourselves and others — friends, family, mainstream media — that playing, sharing and engaging in video game culture isn’t something we should ever be ashamed of. Ever. You know that, I know that. We should all know that, but somehow publicising the results of studies like this are necessary for representatives in the industry because some people still don’t get it.

As trite as it sounds, we are all gamers.

I’ve always had a strange relationship with that word: ‘gamer’. Is it a harmful word? What do we mean when we call ourselves a ‘gamer’? Does it mean we enjoy playing games? Or are we trying to communicate something else: that we take gaming seriously. That we only play a specific type of game? That we don’t bother with those icky Facebook games? I don’t know if any of those distinctions are worthwhile or helpful.

This year Digital Australia report really hit home. The numbers were the new, but they sounded eerily familiar. For a whole different set of reasons.

I am 32 years old. I am male. I play daily, usually for one hour. I am a Father. I have at least three screens in my household. I sometimes play video games to keep my mind active but more often than not I play to relieve stress.

I am the average Australian gamer.

It’s strange how we tend to define ourselves. These are the things that I do, we tell people, these are the things that make me unique. This is my job. this is what I do in my spare time. These are the things that make me different from other people. This is why you should remember me. We put these words on our Facebook page, on our websites.

My twitter bio reads, "Mark Serrels: Editor of Kotaku Australia. Video games. Climbing. Porridge". This is my job, here are the things I like. This is me. This is why I am 'interesting'.

I wonder how much longer I can keep the ‘video games’ part in there and have it still mean something.

I am the average Australian gamer. Playing video games makes me average. I think this is a good thing. It wasn’t always this way but the idea of the ‘video game’ and, more specifically, the idea of the ‘gamer’ has gone from something we use to define ourselves to something designed to exclude others. In the comments section of every news story about the increasing ubiquity of video games is a comment that reads, ‘but these people only play Facebook games, that doesn’t count’.

That is a silly old idea.

The usefulness of that word, that distinction — the idea of the ‘gamer’ – soon it will wither and die. It will be a meaningless, dead word, or it will evolve; transform into something completely different.

I used to be a gamer, once upon a time I used that word to define myself. But now I am the ‘average Australian gamer’. I am about as normal as it gets. And if you play video games, so are you.


Comments

    Sweet, I'm above average too...I'm just not a father yet.

    I'm the average gamer as well, although I struggle to find 2 hours a week to play games these days with a little boy who doesn't want to sleep :)

    "47% percent use a mobile phone"

    In my opinion this makes this entire survey invalid. We already know everyone plays phone games. I'm interested in the statistics of people who play video games on consoles and computers, you know, the people who actually dedicate time to play video games rather than playing them to whittle away time waiting for a bus or whatever.

    Please note I'm not trying to denigrate people who do do that or anything of the sort; if you're one of those kinds of folks the good on you. It's just that when I think of "gaming", I'm thinking consoles and PCs, not Angry Birds.

      You are absolutely correct! if we break it down as well we find that 47% of gamers are female, while can tell you that 100% of my female friends are gamers but only about 5% are anything other than 'mobile / facebook' gamers, which personally I don't think falls into the 'gamer' category. So to me that invalidates 'most' of the other stats alone.

      You are absolutely correct. This survey is dog shit. The section stating that 68% of games played during the survey period were rated G or PG adds even more certainty to the fact that this survey is worth no more than the paper it's printed on.

      Won't stop plebs from taking it to heart though.

      You realise that this statistic isn't mutually exclusive right? All it means is that 47% of respondents do play phone games. It's different to "only use a mobile phone to play games". If I was in the survey, I'd be counted in all three categories; tablet, mobile phone and consoles. There's a massive overlap within these three groups.

        No, that's not the problem I have (if this is even a problem, at the end of the day it isn't really a huge issue to me, just an observation). The issue is that they're considering phone and tablet games in the same category as consoles and PCs, and this gives us a false idea of statistics as we relate to them. I only care about surveys like this if you give me the number of mums and dads sitting down to play CoD or Skyrim or whatever, because that's interesting. What's not interesting is being told that 80ish percent of parents play phone and tablet games, because I already basically knew that, or at least wouldn't be surprised by the statistic had I not suspected it.

        I guarantee you that if you took phones and tablets out of the equation, you are going to see quite a significant drop in many of those statistics, almost all of them in fact, and thus the statistics become more interesting. I'd love to know how many parents sit down and play on a console or PC to sink in a good few hours, because I bet it would be very low in comparison to these stats.

          Right, now I'm with you. With that in mind, we start getting into territory discussed below about "casual gamers" vs "hardcore gamers", and what is considered a "real video game". The reality is, sinking in a good few hours for a game becomes less possible (or at the very least, hell of a lot harder) the older you get and the broader video games become as a form of mainstream entertainment. While there will always been the group (us) who plays video games a hobby and plays in massive chunks, the group that plays them more casually and to pass time as you would a book or movie, is rapidly growing.

          These sorts of studies I guess attempt to highlight that and show developers the massive market out there. It is up the industry then to reconcile these two distinct groups and play styles and create video games that appeal to both, hopefully without compromising traditional "core" games.

            The reality is, sinking in a good few hours for a game becomes less possible (or at the very least, hell of a lot harder) the older you get and the broader video games become as a form of mainstream entertainment.

            I agree with this, but that's what makes it interesting to me. I'm not saying I want older folks to get into more "hardcore" games, I'd just like to see a realistic figure of these older people who actually do play "real video games", from a novelty perspective. And as you said, the stats could very well exist to serve the industry and inform of the large market exposable to games. The purpose of this kind of study depends completely on your objective, at the end of the day.

    I think it's time the 'people who don't get it' realise that we now live in an age where video games are as common as books, television, music, and sports. It's entertainment, it's something people do because they enjoy it, and should no longer be perceived as 'immaturity.'

    And I agree with the Doc - these stats make me feel young. I'm only 31. I'm not dead yet.

    I am gamer - console games and board games...im married (my wifes a gamer tio) i have 4 children under 12 and i spend at least 10hours a week gaming

    Ugh gamings too mainstream if you want me I'll be down the road playing jacks!

    Yawn:

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/10/the-typical-australian-gamer-is-32-years-old/

      That was just the results themselves. I felt like writing something a little more in-depth about it. But I guess you just looked at the headline and went straight for the snark button.

        A little more in-depth, but still as worthless as the original "article". :/

          Come on mate, why the negativity? There's some pretty short and lousy articles on this site, but this is not one of them. I enjoyed reading it.

          What a dick you are. Congratulations.

            I apologize for disagreeing with Mark's midlife identity crisis as a gamer in today's ever-changing world.

    "‘but these people only play Facebook games, that doesn’t count’."

    John Romero would whip the word "deathmatch" across the buttocks of anyone who would utter that statement using his silky long locks.

    As a 32 year old I feel that the average gamer age has grown up with me.

    But I get the feeling that it will level out at some point while my age will continue to climb, leaving that average gamer age sitting there in the distance getting further and further away from my wrinkly old hands.

      On the plus side... retirement home LAN parties!

        Or I could finally finish the pile of shame once I lose touch with whatever modern gaming becomes.

          Oh, good plan! It'll be all twitch-gameplay and shit I don't have the reaction time or mental faculties for once I'm old and doddering. Retirement will be my only hope of tackling the pile of shame.

        I am a 68 years old gamer. I started playing video games in 1979 (Pong and other arcade games) and I was truly addicted when I found Elite on the C64. For a long time I have felt insulated because I didn't know anybody else in my age bracket who also played PC games. Now I look forward to the LAN retirement parties.

          Elite was so amazing. I was only a kid at the time, but I was hooked. (Personally I don't think anyone's made a worthy remake since.)

    I get the whole, "A gamer is anyone who plays a game," angle, but it doesn't ring true compared to pretty much anything else we do.

    @miketarno posted it on the original article: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/10/the-typical-australian-gamer-is-32-years-old/comment-page-1/#comment-2031993

    Just because you go for a morning run doesn't make you an athlete, and real athletes are going to roll their eyes at your assertion that you are. Just the same way gamers here roll their eyes at the 'watering down' of the term 'gamer' to include people who aren't passionate about the hobby.

    That's going to be true of damn near any hobby - the devoted hobbyists look down their nose on any 'weekend warrior' disrespectful enough to claim that they self-identify as one of those hobbyists without actually having any passion, time, or even much respect for the hobby.

    The semantic problem as I see it:
    There is a serious lack of a specific definition for one who self-identifies as a 'gamer'. You can ask all the 30-40-something women in the office here if they play candy crush or angry birds and get an affirmative, but none of them are going to call themselves a 'gamer'.

    Personally, I think that's what 'hardcore' is for, as a descriptor. And even then, the fact that someone might use it as a personal identifier is already well-ahead of the curve. That's an acknowledgement that it is something you can actually identify as.

    I think the more we can tell people that they are 'gamers' and just didn't realize it, the better - acceptance of this hobby I'm passionate about is too low even today, the whole assumption that games are sold primarily to kids. This has a very real and negative impact on our ability to enjoy our hobby, when we look into the laughable at best, downright insulting at worst 'R18' (in name only) rating the country has.

      One of the problems is due to the unique nature of video games as an interactive medium of entertainment. Video games are a hobby in the sense that it requires certain amount of effort and time to be put into them, and yet also fast becoming a mainstream form of consumed media ready for the masses and a serious substitute to other forms of traditional media. Reconciling these two is going to be the hurdle to overcome.

      Someone here on Kotaku (might have been Totilo) a while back suggested the notion of abandoning the tag "gamer" due to the ambiguity of it in this modern era. But yeah, your last paragraph I whole heartedly agree with. Back in high school I liberally discussed video games with my friends due to the stigma behind it and the fact that none of them are "gamers", but now days fuck it all, and take absolute pride in discussing the fact I spent the weekend playing pokemon and watching anime haha. That said, I would not swap those guys out for "gaming" friends if given the option to relive those years, never.

      I am a 40 year old female gamer...I don't play angry birds or candy crack...I cut my gaming teeth on pong, as a kid grew up near an arcade...I still play consoles when I can, but nowdays I mostly play on my 3DS

        Your workplace is probably much cooler than mine because of that fact. :)

    You know what bugs me about this and all the other studies - They never class what a "gamer" is. Like for example, 81% of mums plays video games, I dare say quite a few digits would be removed if they classified just what a gamer is, but maybe they were just saying 81% of moms plays videogames casually with there kids, again it doesn't mean much. I'm going to steal a comment from somewhere from someone on the internet, he said Just because I paint now and then, it doesnt mean I am a painter.
    That anonymous person is right, and even if these numbers are accounting for people who play videogames longer then a hour a week, that just play games on the mobile phone, they still wouldn't consider themselves as a 'gamer.'

    Maybe there should be a rule of thumb to be consider a gamer. Maybe you have to had won at least 5 games in the last five years, if you did as a kid then you WERE a gamer and not one now.
    Or maybe you have to play some form of game at least some many hours in a week.

    I think we can all agree that anyone who uses tablet and mobile phone games should always be considered as casual gamers. Yes yes there are some powerful mobile games which takes a long time to finish. Still a casual game.

    I still can't tell people at work about my gaming life. They ask "How was your weekend?" and I want to say 'Great, I spent some quality time finishing my game' but I know they just won't get it.

    (sigh)

    Also, be careful when buying into these results. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias could be coming into play if you think they reflect you as the average. ;)

    Did I miss something? I didn't see anything in the stats that said the average gamer was a dad. It said 83% of dads play games, but that doesn't indicate that the majority of male gamers are dads.

    This is yet ANOTHER gaming survey that once again ignores the most interesting question: what percentage of Australians are actual enthusiast gamers and play full PC/console games as a hobby?

    I don't want know how many people play games, everyone plays games. I want to know how many buy full release PC/Xbox/PS3 titles and actually sit down to play them as a primary hobby.

    We already know that the gender split is roughly 50/50. It's always been 50/50, since the days of PONG for crying out loud. I reckon if mobile games were taken out, those stats would be wildly different and much more revealing. Most would nosedive or be skewed towards men.

    I would love for more women to experience games, but I have a feeling the percentage who go out of their way to buy proper PC/Xbox/PS3 games is quite low and that's the interesting statistic which I haven't ever seen covered.

    The term gamer is slowly becoming like 'nerd' not so much a derogatory term but a cultural description.

    Hey, I'm 35, above average as expected! :D

    I am a father of 4, I usually game at night when the kids are in bed and when finished watching tv with the wife (who has to feed a newborn during the night).

    Have been gaming since I was 6 with the Commodore 64.

    True story.

    Hi Mark and everyone,

    I read your blog with great interest and agree that gaming and gamers have become "normal" in Australia over the last few years.

    I am actually doing a study on gaming behaviour and how that might link to your level of civic participation/political views. If you and anyone else reading this can spare 15 minutes, my online survey which I am doing with colleagues from the University of Hawaii and South Korea is at :
    https://manoahawaiiss.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_erEaOd4lZJ0kAp7

    Any Australian or Australian resident 18+ may respond. Originally, we had designed it for university students but have now opened it to all gamers to get more representative views about the possible relationship between gaming behaviour and political participation.

    Many thanks in advance. The study has ethics approval from my university (James Cook University) as well as the University of Hawaii. Feel free to pass on the survey link to other gaming friends via any community groups or forums you may be a part of. Any assistance is gratefully accepted.

    Cheers,
    Amy

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now