Game On

Sep 18, 2008 4:27pm

If video gaming is really as big as we’re told — with 40 percent of American adults and 83 percent of teenagers reported by the Entertainment Software Association to be playing — then do the players fit the stereotypes that have gone on for years?  Maybe not, according to a new paper by researchers at the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and the University of Delaware.  The researchers, Dmitri Williams, Nick Yee and Scott Caplan, queried 7,000 players of EverQuest II, which you may know to be one of the most popular of MMOs, or massively multiplayer online games.  (Our picture is from World of Warcraft, but the results may have been similar.)  Were the players the glassy-eyed couch potatoes of lore? In a word, no.  The survey group reported an average Body Mass Index of 25.19 — slightly higher than the 18-25 that most doctors would recommend, but well below the American average of 28.  They said they were getting exercise once or twice a week — again, doctors might wish for more, but that’s still higher than the general population. On the other hand, gamers reported more depression and substance abuse than the American public overall, and the researchers don’t know why. "Did game play cause the mental health outcomes or vice versa?" they ask. We’ve known, and reported, that the average age of gamers has been rising; nearly a quarter of them are over 50.  Other bits of data: Minorities didn’t play as much.  Gamers said they were less religious than non-players. The paper is published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and you can find it HERE.  Hat tip to New Scientist, which has a digest version HERE.

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