Move over geeks, gaming is seriously mainstream

By Elizabeth Binning

Davanea Forbes spends about 10 hours a week playing video games. Photo / Dean Purcell
Davanea Forbes spends about 10 hours a week playing video games. Photo / Dean Purcell

A new mother in her 30s is probably the last person to spring to mind when conjuring up an image of a typical Kiwi gamer.

But according to research gaming is no longer just for moody teenagers, geeks or boys who like their toys.

Today's gamers are more likely to be in their 30s - and 47 per cent of them are female.

New mother Davanea Forbes is one such fan and while the 34-year-old normally spends about 10 hours a week gaming she admits to indulging in up to 40 hours a week before her son was born seven months ago.

The West Auckland woman has loved gaming since she was a kid - a passion that started with games such as Sonic the Hedgehog.

"It was playing at home or going to your friend's place. It was completely normal for other girls to play [too]. It was the latest toy and whoever had the latest toy, everyone wanted to be involved."

Over the years the games have changed and today you are more likely to find her grabbing a quick game on her smartphone, but she also enjoys the odd game with her husband on their PlayStation or Wii.

Ms Forbes said gaming was a way of relaxing and she also enjoyed the social element of playing online or in the same room as friends.

She said the stereotypical image of gamers was long gone but not everyone wanted to be known as a gamer, despite often spending a lot of time playing.

"There's nothing wrong with it but a lot of people have this stereotypical idea in their head and they'll say 'I'm not a gamer' but they play Solitaire or Hearts on their computer for 20 minutes a day."

Dr Jeff Brand, Associate Professor at Australia's Bond University and author of the gaming report, said there had been an explosion in mobile gaming.

"Over the last year, we've seen a growing pattern of 'snack gaming' with more Kiwis using their smartphones and tablet computers to play video games.

"When people are travelling to work or trying to fill in that little bit of time between appointments they're turning on their mobile devices to 'snack' on a video game."

Dr Brand said it was clear from the Digital New Zealand research on more than 800 New Zealand homes that video games were no longer just the domain of teenage boys.

The research found nine out of 10 households owned a device for playing games - be it a gaming console, phone or tablet computer, and nearly four in five parents with children played computer and video games.

Mark Goodacre, director of Interactive Games & Entertainment Australia, said Kiwi gamers were growing up and were now parents and even grandparents.

"Research shows that 41 per cent of people aged over 50 now play video games and a quarter of gamers have been playing for more than two decades."

Play time

* 93% of homes have a device for playing computer/video games. 51% have traditional game consoles, 38% play on a mobile phone and 9% use a tablet computer
* 33 average age of today's gamer
* 47% of gamers are female
* 58% of gamers play daily or every other day
* 92% of parents who play also used games to help educate their children.

- NZ Herald

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