"Interactive Australia 2007," a study by Dr Jeffrey Brand of Bond University shows that women and older Australians are the fastest growing audiences for computer and video games.
Designed by Australia’s foremost games academic Dr Jeffrey Brand for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA), the study surveyed 1,606 households nationally to find out who plays games in Australia.
It revealed more than 79 per cent of Australian households have a device for playing computer and video games– a three per cent increase from late 2005*. Significantly, the research revealed the changing face of computer and video gaming with more women, families and older people choosing interactive games for entertainment and education.
"Interactive games are seen as a fun, positive entertainment choice for the majority of Australians. The research confirms that gaming is increasingly popular across all ages," said John Watts, President of the IEAA.
The average age of Australian gamers is now 28 years (up from 24 years) and the research predicts that by 2014 the average age of gamers will be the same as non-gamers at 42 years.
Other key research findings include:
- Interactive games are attracting new players – 41 per cent of gamers are female (up from 38 per cent) and eight per cent are seniors (over 60 years old).
- Gaming is an increasingly social activity. Two third of gamers report that others in their household play games, 56 per cent play with others in the same room and only 19 per cent prefer to play alone.
- Parents and children increasingly play together - 35 per cent of gamers are parents and 77 per cent of parents play computer games with their children.
Dr Brand says the change is occurring amid old fears, myths and stereotypes from some members of the community, but results from the study, including the rapidly increasing numbers of adult and female players, suggest that lingering negative stereotypes will not last.
"There is an emerging realisation that computer games contribute to literacy and numeracy, social skills, interest and drive for arts, sport and competition, logic, planning and self-control," said Dr Brand.
The interactive entertainment industry grossed more than $50 billion worldwide in 2005, and neared $1 billion in Australia in 2006. Studies such as "Interactive Australia" suggest that growth is only going to continue and Bond University has introduced a new Bachelor of Computer Games this year to offer advanced qualifications to students hoping to forge a career in this lucrative industry.
"As a leading centre for computer games research, Bond University is in the unique position to be able to offer an industry-linked degree that will be very effective in helping students realise careers at the business-end of computer games," Dr Brand said.
"In addition to focussing on the core design elements of programming, digital imaging, sound/audio and logic, Bond's Bachelor of Computer Games is the only games degree that incorporates a complementary major in fields such as advertising, film and television, journalism, marketing or corporate communication.
"These combinations, together with our strong relationships with industry heavyweights, open the door to other highly lucrative career pathways including the publishing, manufacturing, distribution and retail facets of interactive entertainment products; the promotion of computer games through public relations, marketing and advertising; the establishment of legal frameworks; and business management," he said.
*GamePlay Australia 2005, IEAA and Bond University