The Most Interesting Facts About The Average Aussie Gamer

The Most Interesting Facts About The Average Aussie Gamer

The latest bi-annual report on the average Australian gamer is out, and we’ve already gone through some of the main takeaways. The average Aussie gamer is still 34 years old, and both women and men are playing slightly less per day on average.

But why the drop in figures? What does the picture look like for Aussies under the age of 18, or Aussies over the age of 50? Why are Australians watching or playing in esports? Some more of those questions came up during an roadshow on Tuesday morning, where the chief author of the report since its inception over a decade ago took media and the local games industry through the findings.

Aussies enjoy esports to get better at games, just as much as they watch esports for the vibe

Esports has grown substantially in the last couple of years, even though the level of interest in Australia and New Zealand isn’t quite as meteoric (or lucrative) as it is in China, the United States, Europe or South Korea. But one figure that raised some eyebrows was where respondents (specifically adult-aged gamers, so not those under 18 or those who identified as non-gamers) cited “learning strategies to improve gameplay” as the most popular reason.

The response was only a couple of percentage points ahead of those who watch esports for the culture, which is within the study’s margin of error. Interestingly, and perhaps more troubling for the local esports industry, only 17 percent said they watched esports to support the industry, and even few cited presenters as a drawcard. The social element of esports, along with the player community (which in my experience is one and the same) were the two most popular reasons among respondents for competing in esports, at 51 percent and 49 percent respectively.

More offices are using games for work

Image: IGEA / Digital Australia 2020

From the adult players who identified as gamers, just over a third said they had used games in the workplace to learn something new, with just under a third using games for health and safety inductions or training.

There’s no extra data here on the type of games exactly, so it would be wrong to interpret this as an increase in Overcooked showing people the ropes of not stabbing your co-workers or setting food on fire. But it does highlight that a fair amount of Aussie workplaces are behind the idea of using games, or game mechanics, as an effective mechanism for teaching.

5 to 10 minutes is about the optimal time Aussies spend on casual games

Image: Clive Palmer Humble Meme Merchant

Casual gaming is obviously a large element of the definition of a gamer these days, and the Digital Australia report has over time collected more information about the types of casual gaming and times respondents spend playing casually.

Defined as people who play games in short bursts of up to 20 minutes a day — often multiple times a day — the report found that the most frequent scenario was people playing twice a day, 10 minutes at a time. The next most popular scenario saw casual players spending five minutes at a time playing twice a day, followed by three sessions of 10 minute blocks.

“Key players in our sample usually play casual games one to three times a day for five to 15 minutes per session,” the report said, although it should be noted that the popularity of playing 15 minutes was significantly below the five and 10 minute blocks.

Older players are playing to stay connected

82-year-old Shirley Curry, otherwise known as Grandma Shirley to Skyrim fans, who will appear as an NPC in the next Elder Scrolls game.

An interesting takeaway was that older gamers, once they go past the age of 64 (and generally aren’t looking after their kids anymore) are turning more and more to video games. The total play for females aged 65-74 was higher than almost all other age brackets, while there was a significant spike in playtime for male gamers in the 85-94 year old bracket.

So why are older Australians turning to games? 73 percent of older games in the survey said keeping their mind active was the primary reason, while 57 percent said they played games for fun — more than the 18-34 year old or 35-64 year old brackets.

When asked during a Q&A what his 30-second pitch of the report’s findings would be, Bond University professor Jeff Brand said it would be the figures on older gamers. Not only do older Australians play video games, women play just as much as men. But more important than that was the connection. “Older people don’t play to be alone, they play to be together,” the professor said.

YouTube videos are more popular than books outside of gaming

Image: IGEA / Digital Australia 2020

The “watch television” metric is all-encompassing, so it’s not surprising that watching any form of TV (read: Netflix, Stan, anime in the background) would be the most popular non-gaming activity. Magazines still register, although much lower on the list (and likely due to the older demographic of Australians polled).

A more interesting figure was the preference for watching YouTube over reading books, although the results are only just outside the study’s margin of error. The lowest items on the list were listening to podcasts, with only 12 percent of those polled actively saying they preferred to listen to podcasts outside of playing video games.

The figures are actually in line with previous Australian media reports on podcasting. A study by Edison Research this year found that only 30 percent of Australians polled had actually listened to a podcast, even though 83 percent of the country was familiar with podcasts as a concept. Australian media executives, and the radio industry in particular, are betting that takeup of podcasts locally will boom in the coming years, following the trend from the US.

Board games is pretty high on the non-gaming activities, but not as high as gardening

Image: Supplied

Among adults polled, the Digital Australia report found that board games ranked above photography, arts and crafts, visiting art galleries and theme parks. It wasn’t as popular as going to a pub, or exercising, but ranking above both those things was … gardening.

Respondents could choose from 16 activities in total as their “preferred non-gaming leisure activities”. Eating out and shopping were the most popular replies, but 40 percent of all adults who identified as gamers also nominated gardening. There’s no extra breakout figures on the age groups there, however.

Dear Government: parents don’t stop playing video games just because they have a kid, and neither will anyone else

Out of all respondents, one third of those surveyed said they were a parent living with a child under the age of 18. From that group, 81 percent said they still played games, with games being a fun bonding activity.

The figures stand out in stark contrast to modelling last year from the Department of Communications and the Arts’ research division, which tried to estimate how much bandwidth Australian households would need to 2026. The department estimated that families with children would continue playing games — particularly “VR online gaming” by 2026 — but online gaming wasn’t even considered a “typical application usage” for families without parents, or single Australians.

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

If anything, the latest Digital Australia report confirms that people continue to play video games as they get older. The only age group that significantly drops off is the 55-64 age bracket, but even after that stage older Australians continue to discover video games, often as a way to stay connected. Our specific habits might change, and we might play different games, but gaming isn’t a hobby that Australians give up just because they get jobs or get older.

Streaming might be why we’re playing less

An early breakout from the report was that Australians are playing less games on average per day. But Professor Brand suggested that a likely cause from this was due to the rise in streaming, not only because Australians enjoy watching video games being streamed on its own, but also because Aussies are using YouTube and Twitch for walkthroughs, tips and general advice.

This was supported with the findings behind esports, where respondents said they watched esports events and streams as much for gameplay help as much as the esports culture. Among all adult players, the cultural experience of games was predominately still to read or watch gameplay walkthroughs, followed by gameplay videos on YouTube, with livestreams and esports coming in equal third.


  • The average Aussie gamer is still 34 years old

    (to be read in Matthew McConaughey voice)

    That’s what I love about these average Aussie gamers, man. I get older, they stay the same age.

  • Having a kid definitely hasn’t stopped me playing games, just less of them.
    I’m hanging for the day I can play games with him.

        • Mines nearly 3 and he loves playing pac man, dig dug, ect. Pretty much the games that come in “plug and play” little consoles you get as staking stuffers. He has no idea what he’s doing but he likes the lights and noises.
          If your kid loves Halloween stuff (my sons obsessed with pumpkins) there’s a game on ps4 for $6 called Halloween Forever that he loves… its basically a Ghouls and Goblins clone….. good place to start

      • I’ve felt the sting before.
        I played a lot of games with my nephew as he grew but last Christmas he asked me to play CoD with him and I begrudgingly accepted.
        (Not a fan)
        He absolutely wiped the floor with me and started mocking my efforts so the only thing I could do was threaten to ban him for the day unless he stopped being such a bad winner, it was a shitty feeling.

      • It stings, but it’s a good sting. Being defeated by my offspring and them not being douche-canoes about it means I’ve achieved the goal of making people who are better than me, which is what reproducing is meant to be about.

    • My eldest are now 9 and 7 and totally in to games, the best bit is using it as a reward for completion of homework and chores.

      They’ve been playing since about 4-5 and are now asking questions like ‘How can I play this with the keyboard’ lol.

      I hate withholding it though, makes me feel bad. (Cause my parents use to hide my games) don’t be like feral’s parents.

      • I think about the balance a lot, partly because my parents were also pretty strict and partly because I’m terrible at getting important stuff done before I game lol.

    • My kid can now put up a pretty good fight in Street Fighter against me. I’ve been playing for 25 years but he explained to me yesterday how “it’s really more about strategy at this point Daddy”

      I’m so proud of him. I can still school him with Ken but if I use anyone else he can totally win.

      • I refuse to play Smash Bros with my nephews because the youngest wipes the floor with the rest of us. It likely doesn’t help that I don’t play Smash Bros, and I have yet to introduce them to DoA or Darkstalkers 3/Vampire Savior… then I shall have my revenge!

        • So frustrating in their main games. They get so good and they’re quite often sore winners!

          I won’t play plants vs zombies 2 against him. He’s merciless!

    • It’s sweet, mate. Best bonding moments ever. I play anything co-op with my son (18) or we trash talk each other while playing fighting games! Where my daughter (21) is a hardcore Ninty/Pokemon girl. We’ll take turns playing a game e.g. Zelda as the other entertains my 2 y/o grandson while we shoot the shit, bitch about relationships (but not ever about her mum tho, that’s just not cool) and just talk about what’s been going on lately. It’s funny, as my son got older I went from kid gloves/ throwing matches on Tekken (too many defeats and he would just be disheartened n give up) to watching him improve with age, to now where I’m really struggling to keep up! No, he doesn’t throw matches to preserve MY fragile ego, dammit! The girl always preferred to play solo growing up but would occasionally ask for help if stuck but would proudly show off each level beaten, item found and Pokemon she caught. Sometimes she’d let me name ones (bad dad jokes ahoy!) that I liked! Honestly, it has been truly humbling seeing them both grow and develop mentally, physically and emotionally and oddly enough gaming has been a great metric to gauge that. Like, it’s great seeing them learn strats/tactics, lateral thinking and teamwork but more importantly how to be gracious while winning, good natured in defeat and far more patient in teaching and learning things than I ever was. Fuck knows how, but I got 2 awesome kids that are legit GOOD PEOPLE. I also still play Wii golf with my 80 y/o father and 2 player columms on an emulator with Mum. Might get her the mini megadrive just for that! And I’ll get a Sonic fix whenever I visit as a bonus!

      TLDR: gaming with your kids is awesome n just gets better over time!

      • Honestly, this kinda thing is the best I can hope for, bonding, fun and teachable moments.

        Teach me your ways oh wise grandmaster!

        • Oh man, I honestly don’t know how they turned out so well! I was a very troubled and reckless young man with some serious drug issues and baggage from a couple of traumatic incidents in my early teens. Both of my darlings were accidents (best acco’s I’ve ever had, mind you) and everyone including myself was horrified at thought of me being responsible for guarding a cup of warm piss, let alone a child! I was so scared I sunk myself into my job and went on tour for 3 months 2 fucking days after our 1st child was born! (I’m a roadie, fyi. Y’know, setting up concerts n stuff etc.) I kept going on tour, getting loaded and avoiding being a Dad as much as possible. Home for anywhere from 3 days to 2 months then gone for up to 4 months. I missed her 1st words, 1st steps, her 1st day at school even. Then I’d come home to squeals of joy and welcome from my lil Princessmon (that’s a Pokemon princess, btw)…and a depressed partner (who I’d impregnated again) on the verge of suicide. We both got help, I got clean, but now I was so good at and seemingly dedicated to my job I was stuck having to leave my family constantly. Mortgages and the appallingly shitty wages didn’t help either. But ”post rehab Me” would still tour, tho slightly less and I’d always fly home mid tour for important family occasions and for a while my partner also improved. But having 2 kidlets that worshipped their jackass Dad and resented their boring, disciplinarian Mum/ house-servant who wasn’t fun and only like, held us all together while she was dying inside. It was hell for her and I wish I knew how to help her better than I can/could. Even still today. While we remain friendly, our relationship went kaput fairly quickly. I then lived 2 lives- sober, dedicated, care-bear of a Dad at home… A relapsed, whoremongering and brawling fiend on the road. For over a damn decade. Never ever did drugs at home. Read my kids every night. Taught them to treat others how they want to be treated. Was told by teachers ”so that’s where your kids get their self confidence and wit! Your partner seems so glum and serious.” Showed the kids how to spot liars and cheats…(sad lol)
          Then, without telling her anything about the other ”me”, my daughter (around 14) started behaving like the ”Me” she had never met. That did it. I got my shit together, cleaned up (properly and so far, permanently) and 2 years after that, I told them both EVERYTHING. It’s amazing how resilient kids are. I expected to be cast out and they accepted who I truly was. My girl did try to emulate me for a while (it was like an ”evil mirror boss” in a game except her elemental weakness was counceling and seeing her Dad cry!) Then once she got knocked up 2 days after her 18th, she got wise and flicked on the ”Maturity” button. Almost overnight. I think my button’s still busted! Meanwhile my boy remained 100% unfazed thru everything! Straight A’s, brilliant muso, decent b-baller, girls fighting over him (the lucky lil’ shit!). We’ve talked about all this regularly and he calmly accepts that Mum stresses, Dad’s a goof. And there’s nothing they can’t easily and openly talk to me about. Often I ask THEM advice. So, you STILL want lessons from me, Nami? Anyone…? I still have massive guilt issues I’m dealing with (which is why I’m spilling the beans here I guess- being transparent and honest, ‘specialy to those I care about is now paramount. And I really dig y’all here, so I guess this TMI session is kinda all you guys’ fault for being good people!) The really weird part for me is, neither ”Me” was false. Both halves were sincere, real aspects of me and subduing half my persona is still a huge battle. But for them, worth it.
          So, umm… I had awesome kids despite myself! Go figure! Just treat them like the people you want them to be, I guess
          Sorry for the saga, guys!

          Oh yeah, Vidya games- my constant companion thru all this. Games rock. Teach yer Kidz leet skillz!

          • Mate, I would prefer to take any advice from a dad who can be as honest as that and can admit their faults so readily.
            I would bet you’ve done a lot right because you were so worried about what you might’ve or did feel you did wrong and I rarely hear folks talk about their kids in such a genuinely proud way.

            I get enough unwelcome advice from infallible parents who gloat about being the greatest care givers in the world for raising such perfect little angel geniuses, even though I know they hide their baggage and their kids are terrible little spoilt shits who I daydream about roundhouse kicking through windows.

            Honestly, you sound like a great dad mate.
            Still being unsure that far along sounds far more realistic and grounded than I think many would care to admit.

  • My brother (whose expecting their first child) and I were just talking last night about how the Switch is the perfect console for a parent. He and his wife will be swapping back and forth between maternity leave and he said he thinks the Switch will be the perfect console to dip in and out of between baby duties while at home.

    • A gaming laptop is arguably better.

      I thought the Switch would see a lot of use, but in the end the portability and bigger screen of a laptop made it a much better choice for me.

      • Had a mate who went through the same calculus, but landed on the Switch – cheaper to replace if it breaks. Switch Lite is looking super ideal to them for the same reasons (can’t fuck up the JoyCons as much or lose them behind a couch if you can’t disconnect them).

        • But the million dollar question is whether the Nintendo Drift will still be a ‘feature’ of the Lite, so that it’ll spend every couple of months being sent back for repairs. That’d be a bit more pricier than just getting new JoyCons.

        • Ha, true. But it doesn’t take into account that for many of us old enough to be having kids, using a 5.5″ display for gaming is kinda pushing it 🙂

    • I thought this but my reality so far is that there’s simply no time for gaming, whatsoever. There’s no “dipping out” from baby duties. Even when you are not literally holding the baby yourself, you must attend to the neglected house chores, cooking, shopping, etc. And there are no downtimes with a baby this young: when they’re fussy they literally need you to tend to them and when they’re happy/calm? Well, that’s the time you must seize to interact with them, play, teach, etc.

  • I’m 70 next year, going to EB Expo, planning my next gaming rig, probably custom built from Scorptek, currently liking Wolf Alice music wise, have all the latest smartphone/tab/tv tech, etc and feel about 30 mentally, in a cracking up frame from partying for seven decades…whatever!

    • You’re a fucking legend, mate! I’m 42 and still very fit due to my job, but have noticed the reflexes and eyesight ain’t what they used to be. So I’ve been re-developing my tactics in games (especially online competitive) to accommodate that. Yeah, I’m a bit creakier and if I try n pull that sitting crossed legged right in front of the tele shit for over an hour I sure feel it! But yeah, mentally I feel and act about late 20’s/early 30’s (and look it too if I shave, lol). Good on you, mate. You’re my new role model!

  • Well, my younger brother turns 34 this year, so I guess thats somewhat legit. Gaming was still pretty niche and just happening when I was in High School (I’m 41 now)

    I’d probably skew the results if they’d spoken to me towards the non-streamer / watcher and throwing in a tonne of gaming time. :3 Unfortunately, that was a source of friction between me and an ex, because she was a streamer and I don’t watch streams, not even hers. I prefer to play games myself rather than watching other people.

  • For any parents who want a night away to embrace gaming I am available for babysitting.

    Here at Nuka Girl babysitting we pride ourselves on returning the same number of kids back to you at the end of the night and for a small extra charge we will even make sure they are the same children you originally handed us.

    You children will enjoy games made specifically tailored for them like let’s play rock and for the extra active children we have out patented velcro suits for the carpet technology.

    • So, if I hypothetically dropped my handsome, 18yo son at yours to be ”sat” for the night instead of letting him crash on my couch after a night out and then (still hypothetically) we then came home from yours with an extra kidlet- (a fresh new delivery from Mr Stork, say), we’d all be going on an excursion the next day. To the ”funnest” place on earth… The DNA lab! Wouldn’t we, Nuka Girl? On the chance of that, I may need to see some credentials 1st. I don’t want you corrupting my sweet, innocent lad!

  • I’m 31, a father of 3 kids aged 2, 5 and 7. I never stopped playing games when I started having kids, seems like a pretty odd and outlandish way of thinking to assume people “grow up” and now they’re adults with children so they don’t play games.

    If anything from the time my first child was born I started counting down the days until he could play games with me. He tried his hand at World of Warcraft when he was 3, made me create him a character and he’d sit on my lap playing the game. I controlled the mouse and movement for him at first while he spammed action buttons, but he progressively took more control until he could run around on his own.

    Now he’s 7 and solidly on the path of the gamer. Recently got a Switch and I’ve discovered he prefers Mario Maker over Pokemon which to me is a good change as he hated platformers a couple years ago – couldn’t co-ordinate moving and jumping at the same time. That said he did try out Super Meat Boy a few months ago and did much better than I would have thought.

    Meanwhile my 5 year old son doesn’t have much taste for mario but is loving Pokemon. Could be due to the same co-ordination issues his older brother had, I’m watching to see how that pans out.

    Gaming is very much a bonding activity though, I’ve played a number of games with my boys – WoW, Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Farming Simulator, Terraria, Factorio, Realm of the Mad God and a few other bullet hell and MMO games.

  • As I’ve grown older I’ve become more time poor so I’m definitely more selective when it comes to what games I play. Got hooked on sim racing stuff which takes most of my gaming hours now.

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