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Report led by Bond University Professor reveals ‘The Power of Games’ in Australia

The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) has this week released new research into the power and impact of video games in Australia, revealing that over two-thirds of Australians play video games and 91 per cent of households own a video game device.

Digital Australia 2020 is the latest study of 1,210 Australian households and 3,228 individuals. The research was conducted by Bond University and highlights the consistency with which Australians enjoy video games.

The average age of a video game player in Australia has remained at 34 years old, the same age found in the Digital Australia (DA18) report released two years ago and nearly half of those playing video game players are female. Older Australians also continue to flock to games, with 42 per cent of those aged 65 and over identifying as gamers. In fact, less than a quarter of video game players are under the age of 18.

The study also sheds light on the perception of the power of video games to help people maintain social connections (67 per cent) and contribute to their social (66 per cent) and emotional (74 per cent) wellbeing.

Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report, notes the reasons Australians play games continues to diversify and multiply.

“This biennial study has been conducted since 2005, and gives us a powerful insight into who plays video games, how they play, and why they play. While the first studies really broke down stereotypes of who played games, this research really helps us to understand why people play.”

“Australians still play video games for fun, but this isn’t the only reason. Games are increasingly appreciated for their diverse applications – people play to educate and upskill themselves, to stay socially and emotionally connected, as a motivator to stay fit, and to reduce stress.”

The Digital Australia study also highlights the important contribution that games make to Australia’s cultural footprint and the digital economy. The interactive nature of video games means that a user is cognitively engaged through problem solving and creativity – they are not sitting passively on auto-pilot.

In fact, 61 per cent of parents see video games as an effective teaching tool for STEM. The research also found that three-quarters of adults believe that it can benefit the economy to develop and produce video games in Australia. When it comes to training up a workforce, video games are an important tool – 29 per cent have utilised video games to train workers with new skills.

“Games are a powerful tool we need to harness for a strong and competitive future. Interactive game play requires a critical approach to problem solving,” said Dr Brand. “We can’t disregard that these same skills can be used by players in a professional environment. The cross pollination that is seeping into the Australian workplace from a skilled generation of gamers is promising.”

Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, said, “Digital Australia 2020 emphasises the integral role games play in Australian’s lives. Far from being a solitary endeavour, games are designed to be a shared experience and our research supports the fact that most people play games with other people. Video games have influenced all aspects of society. We are finding games are leaving a footprint in the home, workplace, and school. The reasons we are playing them are more nuanced - we are playing not just to entertain ourselves, but to learn and to connect.”

Other key findings of the Digital Australia Report 2020 include:

  • Video games play an important role in the family – Parents increasingly place importance on the impact video games have on forging a connection with their children. The research shows that 59 per cent of parents play games with their children in the same room, and 43 per cent play online games with their children.
  • Parents are still cautious when it comes to ensuring safety online – 83 per cent indicate they have talked with their children about playing games safely online. 89 per cent of parents also said that they were aware of parental controls, up from 81 per cent in 2018.    
  • Video games for health – Older Australians cite the role video games play in positive ageing. A majority (87 per cent) use games as a tool for mental stimulation, and 81 per cent see it as a buffer against dementia.
  • Video games continue to educate – Games continue to play an important role in an educational and training setting. Half the parents surveyed indicated that their children use video games for educational purposes in school and 53 per cent believe that games can imbue their children with greater confidence at school.
  • Video games and the household – The most popular way to play games is with a mobile phone (70 per cent), while 65 per cent of households use a console to play, and 21 per cent of households own a virtual reality headset.
  • The average Australian’s consumption of games has decreased – The average total daily video game consumption is 81 minutes, down from 89 minutes in 2018.

Breaking this down by demographic – children play for the longest, averaging 100 minutes a day, whereas retirement age adults play for 59 minutes. Working age adults sit in the middle, playing video games for an average of 83 minutes a day.

To download the DA20 report, click here

To download a summary of DA20, click here

About Digital Australia 2020

Digital Australia 2020 is the eighth study in a series of national Australian research that began in 2005. The report, which is based on a study of 1,210 Australian households and 3,228 individuals, looks at the demographics of Australians who play games, play habits, behaviours and attitudes.

About IGEA

IGEA is the industry association representing the business and public policy interests of Australian and New Zealand companies in the computer and video games industry. IGEA’s members publish, develop, market and/or distribute interactive games and entertainment content and related hardware including mobile and handheld games. For more information, please visit www.igea.net.

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