As we head into 2016, gaming continues to be more culturally relevant than ever, with seemingly everybody playing video games. But what are the real statistics? The nonpartisan Pew Research Center recently looked into American adults’ gaming habits and opinions, and some of their findings were surprising.
According to Pew, 49% of American adults play video games, but only 10% would identify themselves as gamers. Given the bad publicity being generated by some gamers recently, I have a feeling that number won’t be going up anytime too soon. The divide between male and female players is almost evenly split (50% to 48%), but 60% of people polled believe men played more games. Men are also more than twice as likely to identify as gamers (15% to 6%).
Despite nearly half the population being into games, a lot of negative perceptions about games still persist; 40% of people think there’s a connection between video game violence and real-life violent behavior; 27% of respondents said some video games portray women poorly, while 14% said all games do; 20% think some games portray minorities poorly, while a further 9% think most games do; 26% of people think video games are a straight-up waste of time.
But hey, it’s not all bad news. A full 64% of respondents thought video games help develop problem-solving skills to some degree; 47% thought they promoted teamwork and cooperation; 44% thought they were a better form of entertainment than watching TV.
Of course, no single poll is definitive, but I would say this one provides an overall fairly positive outlook on the state of gaming. Sure, video games still have some public perception issues, but I can guarantee the percentage of people who thought video games inspired violence was a lot higher five or 10 years ago. The very low percentage of people willing to call themselves gamers is disappointing because, in my opinion, it’s just a useful term and, in an ideal world, anybody who regularly enjoys games would be able to call themselves a gamer (or whatever they want) without shame or unfortunate associations. But that’s just me.
If you have time, I suggest checking out Pew’s full report by clicking here, because there’s a lot more detail than I can cover here.