• Video game players are better educated and more likely to participate actively in culture
  • Average gamer is 43 and women more likely to play than men

New research from innovation charity Nesta reveals that those who play video games are better educated, no less wealthy and more likely than non-games players to participate actively in culture.

Despite being played by every other European adult1 and worth $106.6 billion annually2, it has long been debated whether video games are harmful to personal development. In Did you really take a hit? Nesta collaborated with an economist from the University of Southern Denmark in using data from the government’s Taking Part survey of 10,000 UK adults3 to look at the socio-economic characteristics of games players as well as their broader cultural participation.

The findings suggest that those who play video games are better educated, no less wealthy than the population average and are greater consumers of culture. They are also more likely to participate in its creation, such as through dance performance or video production.

There is no evidence of detrimental longer term socio-economic impacts of playing video games when younger either. Indeed, those who played when growing up tend to be better educated and are more likely to participate in other forms of culture, such as reading, painting, attending performing arts and visiting heritage sites and libraries.

The findings also turn the gamer stereotype on its head, with women more likely to play than men and the average gamer being aged 43. However, among those that play, females do so less often than men.

The results challenge policymakers’ perceptions of what constitutes good ‘culture’.

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, and one of the paper’s authors, comments: “Policymakers in the UK have in recent years come around to the huge economic value of the video games industry. Our research suggests that it’s time they also paid heed to its cultural value.”

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “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.”

Did you really take a hit? was authored by Karol Borowiecki and Hasan Bakhshi.

Nesta has previously mapped the UK’s video games sector and led the Next Gen Review of Skills Needs of the Video Games and Visual Effects Industries which led to reform of the ICT curriculum in English schools.

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  1. Videogames in Europe: 2012 Consumer Study, http://www.isfe.eu/videogames-europe-2012-consumer-study
  2. Global Games Market Report 2017, https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/the-global-games-market-will-reach-108-9-billion-in-2017-with-mobile-taking-42/
  3. The Taking Part survey is a continuous face to face household survey of adults aged 16 and over and children aged 5 to 15 years old in England. It has run since 2005 and is the main evidence source for DCMS and its sectors. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/taking-part-survey

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation. Our mission is to spark and shape new ideas to improve how the world works for everyone. We use our knowledge, networks, funding and skills to take on big challenges, working in partnership with others to make change happen. We are a UK charity and our work is enabled by a financial endowment. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

For more information contact Laura Scruby in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2697/2543,  [email protected]