The stereotypical pasty and pimply-faced teenaged gamer may be in for a rude shock after the latest research findings from the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) suggests the average Australian video game player is actually 28 years old and soon to be a woman.
The report titled, Interactive Australia 2007, was conducted by Dr Jeff Brand, associate professor of communications and media at Bond University. After interviewing 3386 random respondents from 1606 households, he found more than 79 percent of Australian households had devices to play video games.
Dr Brand described the explosive adoption of video games and game devices as "an historic shift in culture".
"But the problems with cultural shifts is that they are surrounded by fear, myths and stereotypes," he warned. "The myth that exists today about video games is that they are a fringe medium which is far from the truth. Computer games are in fact a mainstream medium, end of story."
Women, who have traditionally been ignored as active gamers, represented the video game industry's fastest growing demographic, jumping to 41 percent (up from 38 percent in 2005), while the average age of a gamer increased from 24 to 28 years of age.
"The fact of the matter is that today computer games are for adults, and women represent the fastest growing single demographic for gameplay," said Dr Brand. "In five or six years, we'll see that the average gamer is female and nearing the average age of the average Australian."
The report also revealed Australians were confused by the current video game classification system and supported the call for a common classification system for games and film.
While no question in the survey related to the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games, Dr Brand quoted research from a Gameplay Australia 2005 report that showed 88 percent of Australians were in favour of an R18+ classification to assist consumers in making informed decisions when buying games.
The study also debunked the myth of gaming as an anti-social past-time. It found only one in five players preferred to play games alone and only 8 percent never play with others.
Another positive finding was parents' acceptance of video games. While it reported 35 percent of gamers were parents, it found 77 percent of parents regularly played games with their children.
"Interactive games are seen as a fun, positive entertainment choice for the majority of Australians," said IEAA CEO, Chris Hanlon. "Parents are increasingly playing computer and video games themselves and with their children. They value the skills kids learn through interactive games, and can see the benefits both socially and educationally."