The nine most common myths surroundings Video Games, who plays them and their effects on society.
Computer and video gamers are only for children and teenagers. No! The recent Interactive Australia 2009 study found the average age of the Australian gamer is 30 years old and by 2014, that age is expected to equal the national average age of 36 years old. Complex story lines, increased educational attributes and widespread internet usage are some of the factors driving an increase in adult gamers. Older players tend to use PCs and play board/card, puzzle and strategy games, whilst younger gamers and young adults make up the bulk of handheld and console game device users and prefer action, racing, and adventure games.
Women don’t really play computer and video games. Females are the fastest growing audience of the gaming population. The Interactive Australia 2009 study revealed 46 per cent of game players are women; an increase from 41 per cent in 2007 and 38 per cent in 2005. It is expected that Australian female gamers will equal male gamers by 2010. Female gamers are more likely to play puzzle, family and board/card games. In contrast, male gamers prefer sports, fighting, first-person shooters and role-playing games.
Computer and video games are a niche form of entertainment. Gaming has quickly become a mainstream activity, rivalling the film industry in terms of revenue and range of diverse content it produces. With 68 per cent of all Australians playing games and 88 per cent of Australian households owning a gaming device, there is no denying that gaming is enjoyed by a wide spectrum of society. From an international perspective, a recent Nielson study in 2008, ranked playing video games among the top leisure activities for Europeans. The study found that 40 per cent of Europeans play between six and 14 hours a week, which puts gaming alongside other mainstream entertainment studied, like TV and internet surfing.
Playing computer and video games is socially isolating. As many as 48 per cent of people now play games online and among this group 22 per cent ‘often’ play socially in the same room with others and another 41 per cent say they do so ‘occasionally’. Among gaming households, 65 per cent of parents play games with their children and view the activity as positive way to spend time with children. Like playing tennis or card games, video and computer games are another way Australians socially interact with each other.
Gamers spend excessive amounts of time playing computer and video games. The Interactive Australia 2009 study found half of all gamers play either daily or every other day, 25 per cent of all gamers play at least once a week and less than 20 per cent play less frequently. Most gamers play for one hour in one session, while 25 per cent play for just 30 minutes and another 25 per cent play for 2 hours. In the same way that television became a daily activity for many viewers in the 1960s, games are increasingly becoming a daily activity for a wide range of Australians today. It’s also important to note that computer and video games do not compete with non-media and outdoor activities; instead it competes with older media such as television.
Playing violent games leads to aggressive behaviour. Computer and video games often attract public attention when they are linked to violent behaviour. While such incidents are disturbing, they are uncommon and it is clear that the vast majority of young gamers do not commit violent acts. There is no scientific evidence to draw any safe assumptions between violent games and negative effects on players. The Interactive Australia 2009 study found most attitudes toward computer and video games are positive. The main reasons gamers play is to relieve boredom, offer excitement, stimulate their minds, reduce stress and for educational purposes.
Australian’s don’t want to see the introduction of an R18+ Classification. The Interactive Australia study revealed 63 per cent of participants did not realise Australia has no R18+ Classification for games. When asked if an R18+ Classification should be introduced, 91 per cent of Australian adults (including those who play computer or video games gaming AND those who do not) think that Australia should have an R18+ Classification for games. Interestingly, 78 per cent of parents say an adult is present when games are purchased for their children and 92 per cent of parents are aware of what games are played in their homes. Australia is the only developed nation without an R18+ classification for video and computer games. Whilst gamer adults use their knowledge of games to make informed decisions about games they buy for younger players, non-gamer adults rely on the classification shown on game packaging.
Games Piracy doesn’t carry penalties. 17 per cent of gaming households ‘admit’ to owning pirated games. Half of all pirated copies come from family and friends (51 per cent), 26 per cent are downloaded from online file-sharing sites and another 20 per cent come from overseas vendors or market stalls. The Bond University report estimates that the cumulative economic impact of piracy is AU$840 million, with distributors, retailers and local developers the hardest hit. Criminal penalties for copyright infringement are up to $60,500 and/or five years imprisonment per offence for individuals, and fines of up to $302,500 for corporations. Police can also issues on-the-spot fines of $1320.
Games desensitise children to violence and promote anti-social behaviour. There is currently no scientific evidence to prove violent games cause children to become desensitised to violence. In fact, reports like the *Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game (The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s) found children understand the difference between real-world violence and violence in the virtual world. Like other playground ‘fantasy’ games, children understand that the stories in a video game are not real and mentally apply a different set of rules when playing. In an excerpt from Grand Theft Childhood, written by Harvard academics Lawrence Kutner PhD and Cheryl Olson ScD and published in 2008 the authors contend that these claims are not supported by research. “It’s clear that the “big fears” bandied about in the press – that violent video games make children significantly more violent in the real world; that children will engage in illegal, immoral, sexist and violent acts they see in some of these games – are not supported by the current research, at least in such a simplistic form. That should make sense to anyone who thinks about it. After all, millions of children and adults play these games, yet the world had not been reduced to chaos and anarchy.”
Pg 18 * Research The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s findings appear in the June issue of Communication Monographs in an piece entitled “Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game”. ®