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BBFC publishes research on gamer demographics, perception

Ross Miller

The British Board of Film Classification published today research that they have conducted concerning video games. The report covers a wide aspect of gaming culture. Highlights include:

  • Age: "Although children are beginning to start playing games at a younger age, the overall age of players is getting older. Younger games players are influenced to play particular games by peer pressure and word of mouth, but negative press coverage for a game will significantly increase its take up."
  • Gender: "There is a sharp divide between male and female games players in their taste in games and how long they spend playing. Female games players tend to prefer 'strategic life simulation' games like The Sims and puzzle games and spend less time playing than their male counterparts; male players favour first 'person shooters' [sic] and sports games and are much more likely to become deeply absorbed in the play."
  • Benefits of gaming: "People play games to escape from every day life and to escape to a world of adventure without risk which is under the control of the gamer, unlike the real world. Games provide a sense of achievement and are active, unlike television and films which are passive. However, games are better at developing action than building character and as such gamers tend to care less about the storyline than making progress in the game. Gamers claim that playing games is mentally stimulating and that playing develops hand eye coordination."

The paper also concludes that gamers are "virtually unanimous in rejecting" the notion that violent games causes real life violence, and that they and gamers they know understand the difference between virtual and real violence. That a regulatory body understood by a mainstream audience is publishing this conclusion is a positive note to the games industry.

Their conclusions concerning perception by non-gaming parents is both refreshing and disconcerting. The research states that the parents were confident their children were well balanced enough not to be aversely affected by video game violence, but do worry about the lack of time they were spending outside and the "stranger-danger" of internet chat rooms. What is disconcerting is that, though parents want a regulatory body for gaming, that they "happy to give their children adult games because they are 'only games'." What's the point in having a ratings system if you won't use it?

The Federal Trade Commission in the US recently published a report concerning the effectiveness of the industry to self-regulate.

[Via The Escapist]

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