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Nesta research reveals the average person who plays games: female, 43 years old, highly educated and an active consumer of culture

People who play games are better educated, no less wealthy and more likely than non-games players to participate actively in culture, according to research conducted by innovation charity Nesta, released in a report that challenges the existing stereotype of games players.

‘Did you really take a hit?’, an extended piece of research by Hasan Bahkshi, Executive Director of Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, and Karol Borowiecki, economist at the University of Southern Denmark, used data from the government’s Taking Part survey of 10,000 UK adults to look at the socio-economic characteristics of games players as well as their broader cultural participation.

The study aimed to address the question of how playing games affects the socio-economic development of a person. 

You think all games players are teenage boys?

Dispelling the stereotypes of players, the research finds that women are more likely to play games than men – although they play less frequently – and that the average age of a player is 43 years old.

Overall, half the population of gamers are at least in their 40s, while a quarter of all players are ages 56 years or above.

The report also paints a diverse picture of who plays games in the UK, finding no significant effect of nationality, ethnic or religious background, or sexual orientation on whether people are likely to play.

People who play games love other cultural mediums

The research finds that people who play games are greater consumers of culture, such as reading, painting, attending performing arts and visiting heritage sites and libraries.

The study suggests that players are also more likely to actively participate in the creation of culture (writing, dancing, or creating forms of digital art) than non-games players.

People who play games are highly educated

The report clearly indicates the positive educational impact of playing games, showing that people who played games growing up obtain better educational qualifications than those that did not.

There is also found to be no negative financial implications of playing games growing up, as players are no less wealthy than people who grew up without games and do not play as an adult.

While Ukie will continue to educate policymakers of the economic benefit of the UK games sector - which had a market value of £4.33bn in 2016 - this new research will support our work promoting the cultural significance of games as an art form in the UK.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, responded to the report, saying: “We welcome this research that dispels the assumed stereotypes of people who play games. Games are creative, innovative and immersive experiences that enrich our everyday cultural life, and inspire new ways of understanding and interacting with the world around us.

It is not surprising that this research indicates that players are more likely to be actively participating in other cultural media. Ukie has for some time been able to educate policy makers and investors of the economic value of the UK games industry, and with this research we now have robust evidence championing the social and cultural value of our world-class sector.”

You can read the report in full here.

For more research, stats and data on the games industry, check out our Games Industry Fact Sheet or talk to Luke.