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New report: Gamers are not lonely losers

Amanda Dean

Gamers seem to get a lot of bad press. From controversial episodes in the early days of Dungeons and Dragons to WoW addictions that are more shameful than online porn. Anyone who doesn't know us might actually believe that we're 10 million basement-dwelling social troglodytes. The American Medical Association is even considering the addition of video game addictions to their big book of mental problems (also known as the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

A new study by Victoria University found just the opposite. They found that about 15% of their 621 participants qualified as problem gamers, that is they spent more than 50 hours a week playing games. Even among that 15 percent, only one percent showed signs of poor social skills. While there are some who have a major problem gaming habit most of us are normal people who unwind with a video game.

The researchers concluded that public opinion of gamers is largely driven by stereotypes than actual fact. Sure, non-gamers don't understand why 2 hours of game time is considered casual, but for the life of me I don't understand why people plop in front of prime-time TV every night or jump out of perfectly good airplanes. It's a matter of perspective, which is largely driven by popular media. I believe that as the gamer community continues to grow and becomes more mainstream, public opinion may shift.

John Loton, the author of the study was quoted as saying "I think it's an evolution of social and cultural stereotypes that suggest only nerds and geeks play computer games. The reality is that nowadays everyone is playing video games."

With all of the bad press, it's exciting to see a story that doesn't demonize online gamers. I'd like to see more studies that show who gamers truly are. It's no longer astonishing to discover that a public figure logs in to WoW.

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