Research Article Review #1: Demograpic Factors and Playing Variables in Online Computer Gaming

Last year, I embarked on what I’m hoping will be a lifetime of learning. Media Psychology is what I am passionate about, and I have done research in my specific focus of interest; gaming. Part of the challenge of research into gaming psychology, is the plentiful research into gaming and aggression (more on that eventually), and a lack of much else. I decided I was interested into possible correlations between gaming habits (e.g., game choice, online vs. local play, content, etc.) and personality (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) or motivation. My first study conducted measured online vs. local game play preferences as a function of level of extroversion. I will post that study soon.

As part of that research, I looked at a wide variety of previous research on gaming and came across some very interesting research. One of the articles that helped me the most was this one by Mark D. Griffiths, Ph.D., Mark N.O. Davies, Ph.D., and Darren Chappell, B.Sc.. It gives demographic information about gamers and some other variables. Though this study is only done with EQ gamers, and computer gaming (not necessarily console gaming), it provides a good blueprint for further research into demographics.

This article presents research conducted via online questionnaire. Questions were asked measuring how much time gamers spent playing, whether they had to give anything up (like sleep or school focus), whether gamers were married, how old they are, gender, etc. What they came up with may or may not surprise you. Though the article is definitely worth a read because it provides insight into the specific methods and materials used for the research, as well as the reasoning behind the research, I will quickly summarize their findings, but you can find the full article here.

  • 81% male
  • 19% female
  • .01% unspecified
  • 8% 12-17 years
  • 59% 18-30 years
  • 22% 31-40
  • 8% 41-50
  • 3% over 50
Player Nationality
  • 77% North American (US and Canada)
  • 20% European (12% overall from UK)
Marital Status
  • 55.5% single
  • 1.5% separated
  • 3% divorced
  • 30% married
  • 10% living with partner
  • 29% current or recently graduated undergrad student
  • 13% postgraduate qualifications
  • 23.5% some college
  • 20% schooling through 16 years (high school)
  • .5% no schooling after age 11
  • 28.7% IT related
  • 20% students
  • 6.9% unemployed
  • remained in various fields including (but not limited to) armed forces, lawyers, tradesmen, unlisted, etc.
Playing History
  • average playing history 27.2 months
Playing Frequency
  • average frequency per week 25 hrs
Favorite Online Gaming Features
  • 24% social game
  • 10.2% grouping together
  • 10% guild membership
  • 6.9% assisting noobs (my term, not theirs)
  • 6.5% playing solo
  • 5.7% magic use
  • 5.4% hand to hand combat
  • 5.2% role playing
  • 3.3% pvp
  • 12.2% other
Least Favorite Online Gaming Features
  • 18.7% immaturity of other players
  • 15.4% selfishness of other players
  • 14.8% camping
  • 13.3% slow levelling
  • 13.1% pvp
  • 5.9% loss of experience after death
  • 4.4% hand to hand combat
  • 3.7% solo play
  • 1.9% role playing
  • 1.7% team play
  • 1.7% assisting noobs
  • .2% magic use
  • 5.2% other
Activities Sacrificed to Play
  • 22.8% nothing
  • 25.6% other hobbies
  • 18.1% sleep
  • 9.6% work/education
  • 10.4% socializing with friends
  • 5.4% socializing with partner
  • 4.6% family time

The author suggests further research may include studies including players of other games, as demographics reported here may be specific to type of game and medium used for playing. In other words, this study was done specifically with EQ players, and doesn’t necessarily generalize to all kinds of gamers. It is a stepping stone.

I chose this article because Dr. Griffiths has done a lot of research into different gaming related variables, and I appreciate that his research is objective. There are those who are pining for the death of gaming, while several studies have shown it is not the seeming evil and aggression CAUSING (ugh) hobby it has previously been labeled. There are benefits to game use, and since we cannot (and some of us don’t want to) get rid of it, I believe understanding more about those who play, and their reasons for doing so, will help us mold it into the tool it could be.

2 comments on “Research Article Review #1: Demograpic Factors and Playing Variables in Online Computer Gaming

  1. The whole ‘games cause violence’ thing has this HUGE caveat: in some kids. Not even all kids. And we don’t know why. In adults, (and by adults, I mean college students – studies of people age 18 and over) including adults who GREW UP GAMING, there is evidence that people who are already MORE AGGRESSIVE tend to PREFER the violent games; alternately, that people who are non-gamers and are given the ‘violent’ games to learn in a laboratory setting get frustrated at the controls and that’s why they rate higher for aggression. Remember the first time you picked up a console controller and tried to do ANYTHING? Did it make you a little mad?

    It’s a much more complex issue than ‘monkey see, monkey do’ and I really dislike the popular media and psychologists who pander to them with scare tactics and stories. Yes, it’s probably bad if you let your 8 year old play Manhunt. No, that doesn’t mean that just because I play games, I’m broken.

    • I’m with ya! Just because I want to throw the controller across the room when I can’t beat Shang Tsung, doesn’t mean I’m becoming more violent. I feel the same way when I’m trying to get past the challenge levels in Peggle (btw… ZERO violence in that one). Correlation does NOT prove causation. Period. End of story. 🙂

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