The average age of a video game player in New Zealand is 34 years old, and around half of those playing video game players are women and girls.

That's according to the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), which has just released a "Digital New Zealand 2020" survey of 801 New Zealand households and 2255 individuals.

The report also found that the average Kiwi spends of working-age spends 90 minutes per day gaming, whereas retirement age adults play for 79 minutes. Children sit in the middle, playing video games for an average of 84 minutes a day, according to the study.

The report was part of a wider study undertaken by Queensland Bond University that also found older New Zealanders also continue to be attracted to games, with 42 per cent of those aged 65 and over self-identifying as gamers.

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In fact, 78 per cent of video game players are over the age of 18.

Dr Jeff Brand, a Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report since its inception a decade ago, said the reasons New Zealanders play games continues to broaden.

"In the early years, this longitudinal research helped overturn stereotypes of the average gamer, in recent years we have started to understand the deeper reasons why people play," he said.

"While fun is still first and foremost for New Zealand gamers, it is by no means the only reason. We found a diversity to how New Zealanders use games – from education and upskilling, to preserve social and emotional connections and as a powerful health and wellness tool in staying fit and reducing stress."

The Digital New Zealand study also highlights how videos games are making an impact on New Zealand's cultural footprint in the global technology ecosystem and the digital economy, with video game sales in New Zealand growing at a rate of 15 per cent compound annual growth between 2013 and 2018.

The latest report shows that 72 per cent of adults believe making video games in New Zealand benefits the economy.

Interactive Aotearoa, a recent report produced by the New Zealand Game Developers Association with support from NZTech, WeCreate and government agencies, identified interactive games as the greatest potential creator of new jobs and export earnings in coming years.

New Zealand's video games industry generated over $143 million last year.

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The global market is worth $258 billion.

Interactive Aotearoa outlined that gaining just one per cent of the global video games market would generate $258m in new exports each year.

It saw a billion-dollar industry by 2024.

Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

When it comes to training a workforce, video games are a very useful tool and 29 per cent have used video games to train workers with new skills.

Some 65 per cent of parents see video games as a valuable teaching tool for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths subjects).

"We need to harness games as a powerful tool in building a strong and competitive future for New Zealand. The inherent problem-solving nature of interactive game play hones critical thinking and strategy skills," Dr Brand said.

"These skills can easily be applied in a professional environment, and in fact we found that New Zealanders of working age were more likely to spend longer on average playing games than those under 18 years of age."

Talking to James Coddington from Joy Business Academy about using VR technology to train people for work. Video / Leon Menzies

The Ministry of Social Development recently backed an effort to use virtual reality games as a recruitment and training tool for the construction industry, which has been hit by worker shortages.

Other key findings of the Digital New Zealand Report 2020 include:

• New Zealand households mostly use PCs to play video games – The most popular way to play games is with a PC (72 per cent), while 65 per cent of households use a smart phone to play, and 19 per cent of households own a virtual reality headset.

• 42 per cent of parents play games with their children in the same room, and 33 per cent play online games with their children.

• Parents are still cautious when it comes to ensuring safety online – 84 per cent indicate they have talked with their children about playing games safely online, with 91 per cent of parents aware of parental controls, up from 88 per cent in 2018.

• Sixty per cent of the parents surveyed said that their children use video games for educational purposes in school and 48 per cent believe that games can imbue their children with greater confidence at school.