Who's Playing Video Games Today? And Who Becomes Addicted?

Discover the Characteristics of Today's "Gamers"

Two teenage boys (16-17) playing video games on bed
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When most people think of video game addiction, they probably see the typical addictive gamer as a teenage boy who spends countless hours in front of a TV with fingers flying around the controller in his hands. That was probably accurate back when. But not today.

The market of people who "game" (play video games) has grown. And so has gaming addiction, as video game addiction and Internet and computer addiction have ensnared more and more demographic groups.

  • An estimated 155 million Americans play video games.
  • Of that number, 42% play 3 hours or longer each week.
  • The average length of time Americans have been playing video games is 13 years.

First Question: Who Are Today's Video Gamers?

These days, there's no one type of gamer. Here are some of the characteristics identified by research.

Kids

While most American youth do play video games, only 26% of gamers are under age 18. However, it appears that the younger the child, the more vulnerable he or she is to the negative effects of gaming and to video game addiction. Children under age 10 are particularly vulnerable to developing aggressive behaviors they learn from video games.

Adults

Research shows that the average gamer is age 35, and 67% of heads of U.S. households play video games.

Males

Gaming is not an exclusively male activity, although 56% of gamers are male with an average age of 35. Only 15% of gamers fit the stereotype of boys under age 17.

 

Females

What you may consider a surprising 44% of gamers are now female, a third of them adult women with an average age of 43. In addition, as many women as men play online puzzle and cellphone games. And some online multi-user video games are also attracting more women.

Do women tend to play less aggressive video games than men?

It may appear that way, but research has identified a sub-group of young female gamers who play the kind of aggressive games traditionally thought attractive only to males.

Next Question: Who Becomes Addicted?

Studies show that up to 15% of video game players meet the criteria for addiction. This may seem to indicate only a small number of people until you consider gaming's huge and growing popularity: It's actually a lot of people.  

More research is needed, but at present, the group most likely to become addicted to playing video games are those known as Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) players, also known as the persistent multiplayer gaming universe. They form 9.1% of video game players, and they play their video games addictively on the internet.

Video game addiction, computer addiction, and Internet addiction can form a powerful lure, particularly when combined and especially for young children. And then you need to consider the negative effects of excessive video game playing.

If you have a child who plays video games or may want to start playing them, you're encouraged to follow the guidelines for preventing harmful video game effects.

Sources:

“The 2015 essential facts about the computer and video game industry.” Entertainment Software Association (2015.) 

Khan MK. "Emotional and behavioral effects, including addictive potential, of video games." The Council On Science And Public Health (2007).

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