The Australian Government Still Thinks Games Are For Children

Image: Bureau of Communications and Arts Research / Department of Communications and the Arts

See anything wrong in this table?

It's a table from a paper released this week. The paper comes from the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research, which is an analysis and statistical unit within the federal Department of Communications and the Arts.

The idea of the paper is basically to estimate how much data Australians use now, and how much they'll use in 10 years. There's a lot of interesting data, like the fact that the average Aussie fixed-line internet connection used around 95GB of data a month as of June 2016.

Estimates can be tricky. For instance, the department reckons 8K content will only require 19.5 MBps of bandwidth by 2026 - because video compression will reduce the amount of data required by around 7 per cent a year. Put another way: your ADSL2 line will be able to stream 4K and 8K content comfortably in almost ten years.

Sure. I'm not buying it, but it could totally be possible. But what doesn't add up is the models the department used for "maximum bandwidth demand" scenarios. Under their modelling, the only instances where online gaming would become a factor is whenever children are involved, even by 2026:

Image: Bureau of Communications and Arts Research / Department of Communications and the Arts

What's the likelihood that single Aussies come 2026 wouldn't be doing *some* online gaming? And anyone who's tried to game while someone else is streaming Netflix or downloading will enjoy this part:

Image: Bureau of Communications and Arts Research / Department of Communications and the Arts

I don't know about you, but if I tried patching Steam and watching two YouTube videos while Tegan was trying to play Overwatch, my internet usage would be 0 Mbps. Because I would be dead.

But the really amusing part is how this analysis seems to rate online gaming as a high bandwidth activity, while pretending that adults don't game. And we know that simply isn't the case. Enter stage right, Bond University:

How Australians Are Playing Video Games In 2017

The Digital Australia study, an annual look at the way Australians are playing video games, was released today. It features all the statistics that you might expect from such a survey. Yep, pretty much everyone in Australia is playing video games. Yep, video games aren't just for kids. Yep, people play video games to stay sharp, healthy and happy. Every statistic one needs to arm themselves with when dealing with the powers that be is there.

Read more

Not only have we known that Aussie adults are huge gamers for years, it's also well documented that the average Aussie gamer is an adult - and something you would have thought the Department of Arts and Communications would have known.


    Honestly no. It's a scenario

      Sure, a scenario that doesn't match any of the evidence currently available.

        The average gamer is an adult but is the average adult a gamer?
        Out of friends most are gamers. It's natural as we share common interests but say across people I work with, a much broader spread of people gamers are very rare.

          Most adults I know do at least SOME gaming, even if it's just Civ or something like that. Even then, those I know who don't game are mostly from the older generations. By 2029, just about everyone under 50 will have grown up with some sort of gaming in their life. So no, I don't think their predictions regarding usage are realistic in the slightest.

            Although my experience differs greatly to yours and well we... I assume work in completely different industries so we work with different demographics. It is interesting to note in the references for the report this article is about, almost none of the references are of any use, heck Foxtel, cisco and other are on that list. To make it worse half of the references are themselves, they reference themselves in their report.
            Although I do agree somewhat with what they say from my personal experience, I cannot back them up because they use such dodgy sources for their information.

          According to the government's own studies 68% of adults play video games at least 1.5 hours a week

    I don't know about you, but if I tried patching Steam and watching two YouTube videos while Tegan was trying to play Overwatch, my internet usage would be 0 Mbps. Because I would be dead.
    Accurate and relatable

      Amen. My ex would have slaughtered me if I caused her ping to climb over 300 whilst raiding or doing dungeons. This study displays a lot of flawed understanding of internet usage, resulting in what are almost certainly inaccurate findings being used to make policy.

      Welcome to politics.

    video compression will reduce the amount of data required by around 7 per cent a year.

    That is an absolutely fundamental misunderstanding of how compression and also physics works and it is completely wrong. New compression technologies might get you some improvements *sometimes* but it does not work forever. It is not magic. There is a minimum.

    And that's leaving aside the fact that "8k" is just a resolution, not a bitrate. As video compression has improved, bitrates have also gone up.

    This "study" looks like a bunch of people that failed stats in year 12 made a bunch of graphs and extrapolated without talking to actual demographers that know this space, let alone engineers.

      That was my initial read on the report, until I got further through and saw how they'd factored online gaming into their projections. Expecting 8K compression to be that advanced by then ... you've gotta be real optimistic.

        Maybe they are just fans of HBO's Silicon Valley?

          More likely they looked at the average improvement of compression over 30 years of dated technology based on advancing technology patterns, and haven't factored in diminishing returns from the rapidly increasing file sizes from the new resolutions (1080p was the gold standard for the better part of the 30-odd years the internet's existed in its currently recognisable form after all) compared to the slowing development of new compression techniques.

            I am not to clued up on video formats but I know what audio formats it is getting to a point where compression no matter how advanced is starting to make major differences in quality, to the point where raw analogue systems are making a comeback.
            From my perspective I don't see video formats getting any more heavily compressed than they are as visual imperfections are already noticeable over uncompressed formats. So if we did suddenly jump to 8k I don't see compression getting any better for it, with the increased resolution we could even see people reducing compression to keep quality as these imperfections would become even more apparent.

              Audio compression has basically been "solved" for a long time now. If anything, higher bandwidth means we're seeing less compression - for higher quality video, MP3 has started to go away in favor of lossless audio, because it turns out that watching on a high quality home theater system, the loss of the high and low frequencies in MP3 coding is noticeable (it sounds hollow or 'tinny')

              As I mentioned up above, "4k" and "8k" are just video resolutions. Bitrate is the important part. It's the same way that I can make a high resolution image fit into a very small JPG by heavily compressing it - it'll look like ass but it'll be small. It's also the reason why Netflix can deliver "4k" video but if you watch it side-by-side with the same content on a 4k Bluray, the Bluray will look significantly better. Netflix 4k is around 15mbps. UHDBD supports up to 128mbps.

              Video compression may improve over time, but it will generally allow us to view higher quality content at the same or slightly higher bitrates and resolutions. Especially since internet bandwidth and storage density has gone up over time.

            Ummm what? 1080p wasn't even a standard until the early 2,000s. A little over 1 decade, no where near 3 decades

              Actually, the technology was developed in the late 80s, before being publicly tested in the US early 90s and the first public broadcast going out in the mid 90s. The Euros were even further ahead with the first HDTV broadcasts going out in 1990. Admittedly these initial broadcasts were at 1080i not 1080p, but by comparison with the early videos available on the internet until about 16 years ago, which were usually capped at about 640×480 or lower due to bandwidth constraints, this was still miles ahead. The internet is only in the last 10 years catching up with this standard, and especially in Australia our ability to stream such content reliably without buffering has been hit and miss at best until quite recently.

      Dude, compression is exactly like those satelite photos where a car license plate is only a single pixel that can be cleaned up by science nerds into a crisp 2560×1440 image.

        All you need to do is say "Zoom and enhance" and bingo..

    i notice how Adults wants VOD but only Kids watch Youtube... lmao

      Why would any kids (below 12) watch VOD?

        If VOD means video on demand, Netflix has a large children's section. All my four of my nieces and nephews made personalised profiles on my Netflix account.

        They're almost in high school or just starting, but there's plenty of content on there for younger kids. There was that Maya the Bee controversy, if you follow the news.

        Miranda Sings, (who is an awful, awful youtuber), who my niece has loved for years, even has a movie on Netflix.

          I agree with you completely...We did the free Netflix trial for 30 days. About 90% of the usage was kids shows, that's how my kids discovered Dinotrucks was a thing and got a bit into Pokemon/Transformers. We used 200GB of data in all of 2 weeks.

          Generally we use around 200GB per month because I don't tend to download too heavily these days and just watch YouTube/play games...fairly similar to what my 5yr old son uses the internet for.

          Last edited 01/03/18 4:33 pm

            Dinotrux is awesome
            Kinda sad that my daughter doesn't let me tell her dinotrux once upon a time stories anymore. She is all about paw patrol stories now

          That's great. My niece and nephews does not have access to Netflix and just watches youtube.

            I hate watermelon. For the life of me I just cannot work out why stores continue to stock it.

              It would make perfect sense if I am so against the idea but I never once rejected the idea....?

                You dismissed the idea that any 12 year old would use VOD services.
                Why would any kids (below 12) watch VOD?

                  I'm genuinely asking that question though. No one under 12 in my family watches VOD. Nothing I can do about that. I'm still not a parent yet.

                  I didn't even dismiss doctor_molotov and accepts his respond and somehow I'm against the idea?

                  People gotta read better and stop assuming shit.

                  The person asked a question, got a good answer and gave a positive response. People seem to be projecting their own negativity and sarcasm onto his comments and down voting them.

              You also just expressed the reasoning behind Turnbull's NBN.

      Yeah I saw that too.. I guess that just makes me a 27 year old child then. Can I pay child prices for things again now?

      Well kids could still be watching VOD according to this
      What it is actually saying is that adults don't watch youtube

    also wtf... how did they come up with some magic number that 10mbps is great for watching HD content and downloading software... yeah ok let me download this 150gig piece of software that i cant purchse in a store because "digitial is the future (thanks rest of the world with real internet speeds!!!)" at 500k blaaaaaaaah who decides these things? and then tries to rope a dope the public into believing it.

      I'm on 30mbps and I'll still get a game a day earlier than I plan to play it because of download speeds.

      I'm on 200mbps and it's about right for me - I don't really scratch the sides. I could probably get away with slower but I think I'd want to top myself if I had to deal with only 10mbps at home.

    I easily use all the bandwidth available on my connection a lot of the time. I would kill for more bandwidth. and these people are coming up with Fake numbers to try and make the Governments mistakes look like they were planned... its so flipping depressing... the state of Internet in the country gets worse and worse every day and were literally just letting it happen. everyone complains but what does it achieve? WTF is the point of paying taxes if one bloke gets to decide what we pay for and decided what we do and dont want / need... i just dont get it anymore.

      A lot of the LNP voters don't give a damn about you and me, they believe the BS. Now we're stuck with their stupidity and I can barely stream at 360p because of the gimping of the NBN, I may be able to do it reliably at 360p when I can afford the "upgrade". We won't even get into the latency that comes with it, my biggest surprise is remaining competitive.

      Yeah, the fundamental misunderstanding that they have is that they assume that people will continue to do the same things they currently do with the currently available bandwidth. In fact, if you were to suddenly increase everyone's bandwidth by a factor of 10, there are a ton of new things which would expand into that.

    Well, we use our hands for gaming and as we all know that means it's a baby's toy.

      That future was 3 years ago. Damn I feel old now!

    Ima press doubt on both graphs. Bonds graph is clearly using sperate studies in combined statistics and Australias is nonsense.

    And no, unless Australia has a huge female market over other countries, it is not 20 to 30% above other countries in male to female ratios. Secondly, Id argue 99% of households with multiple people living have multiple gaming 'devices'. Phones are ALWAYS included despite the ludicrious nature of combining core markets with the mobile market.

    Also, most people dont care about diversity or any of that, especially in fucking australia. Maybe when asked someone might raise concern, but Id say 5% actually care when not presently being asked. Im betting its a case of University student study demographic as well.

    On 80% are gaming households. Bullshit. Unless maybe you factor wiis in still. There isnt enough consoles sold in Australia to give those statistics.

      You're forgetting mobiles/mobile gaming, which qualifies under the Bond study. They do have separate figures on PC/consoles specifically, but that's not in the infographic.

        They have seperate statistics? Good. My point on 80% is that everyone nowadays has a phone. Even poor people need them for work. Fuck you cant even be on the dole without a smartphone cause reporting fortnightly by phone calls is impractical do to how bad their phone lines are.

        80% may as welbe how many households have multiole people.

    2026 estimates are way off cause at CES they were shoeing off 8K... so 4k will be onsolege by 2026. Stupid government and their terrible forecasting.

    Also I am a single adult and my computer multitasking is doing more than a family of four. :P

      I've recently had to move to the world of streaming/hosted applications and even on 30mbps it can be annoyingly slow.

    Sure, they say only kids play video games now. But the next time a "violent" game comes out, there'll be cries of how it's wrong to let kids play video games.

    I dont frequent here much anymore, however do get emails....

    I just want to say that the NBN was built and basically for IPTV VOD and netflix/other

    the people are paying for a bloody TV network.... that is squeezing the internet to its damn snail speed

    create a seperate network for 4k TV and not have the internet (many peoples work) slow down

    say someone wants to study on udemy.... they cant because someone is watching game of thrones.... stupid.... we all are paying for a netflix owned network

      Wow so much wrong with this. The NBN was intended to bring the internet (which is more than one technology) in Australia to a more competitive footing and help avoid issues with aging infrastructure and provide reliable hardware for future improvement. One of the reasons was yes Netflix and the other VOD services, but very far from the only one.
      Netflix do not have the broadcast rights for GoT in Australia, Foxtel do.
      Netflix in no way "owns" the NBN or NBN Co, you could argue Rupert Murdock does more successfully since a lot of his money went towards trashing the NBN to protect his network's profit margin.

    One of the most annoying things that almost never comes up in these discussions is that gaming is actually a low bandwidth activity (aside from patches etc)... instead it relies heavily on latency which can be really messed up depending on packet prioritization and routing further down the chain at ISP/international levels (or your QOS router settings in Alex and Tegan's case >_>). More pipe =/= faster game experience :/

    I just want to put forward my fantasy.
    Having experts in a field actually be the ones giving info on said field.
    That's all. Is it too much to ask for?

      I like to hope so, but is never the case it seems. The "experts" are almost always the same people forcing the shit down the consumer throat. Only thing you can do is not look directly at it.

    My household usage:

    Two Adults
    HD/4K Youtube on one monitor
    Multiple Games updating in background
    HD/4k Netflix inside.
    Youtube Downloads on smartphone
    3 Server PCs hosting about 12 services including an FTP server.
    Home <-> Work VPN Syncing my data
    VOIP Conference
    Online Gaming
    CCTV Archival
    Home automation systems
    Other PC's that im building downloading drivers or windows updates.

    and thats a normal day. if we are looking at worst case scenario we can add:

    arcade machine updating
    friends and relatives browsing
    PS4/Switch updating or online gaming
    my little bro in law or sis in law playing on ipad or watching youtube...

    welcome to the 21st century Australia.

    Last edited 01/03/18 4:20 pm

      You are not a typical use case. You might seem typical because you are on gizmodo and the rest of the nerds will side with you, however you are way beyond what statistically amounts to the average user.

        that is very true, but what im trying to point out is that as we progress, we become more and more reliant on technology and online infrastructure. as time goes on i can assure you that my scenario will become the norm, and there will be new extremes that take my place.

        im not saying that people are going to be running their own FTP servers. I guess the best example i can give you is something as simple as a mobile phone. 10-15 years ago we used it to make calls and send texts, nowadays our phones are equiped with 3G/4G/5G and we are catching up on netflix, browsing youtube, using it as a mobile office + much more.

    I remember the very instant I reached 18 years old I had no desire to play video games. I switched off what I was playing and went to sleep.

    Because it was almost midnight and time for bed.

    The next day I played about 14 hours straight...

    & no mention of cloud storage upload/downloads whatsoever?

      The previous company I worked for used Dropbox as lot of our customers did. Work would sometimes grind to a halt as we were waiting on updated client info to download.

    This data seems to be for Narnia, not Australia. To me it looks like somebody crapped this out and fumbled the forecast stuff out without consulting an appropriate source.
    It’s odd and unsettling how detached from reality it is.
    Also, great writing, Alex! I’m really starting to dig your stuff.

    I don't think these scenarios are meant to be taken at face value, because they've left 'Web Browsing' off the usage for single people. Honestly, anyone with half a brain could estimate that most single people are going to be 'Web Browsing' for copious quantities of porn on a daily basis. Because... internet.

    Its the same story with every infrastructure forecast in Australia. They look at the way things operated 10 years ago, hope for the best with a minimum growth forecast and plan for that.

    Rather than look at what the best innovations are by other countries and try to develop something that will have capacity for growth opportunities. Opportunities that turn into local businesses which can then be taxed and pay back the cost of infrastructure 10 fold.

    I want to laugh but the ineptitude just makes me angry!

    My favourite bit:
    "8K video bitrate is assumed to be double the 4K bitrate"

    I guess they also assume that televisions are one dimensional or just don't realise that the height and width double!

    Kind of makes you wonder if they'll rescind the 18+ rating at some point...

    Folks. You're forgetting that this table has been compiled by public servents who have been told by the minister to justify a "state of the shit" NBN. You're actually expectiing it to reflect reality. That's what the REAL problem is.

    Maybe they just forgot to include the 'Single adult male' category

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now