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Americans who play video games are more likely than non-gamers to influence their friends’ attitudes about pop culture and new technology purchases and are more social than commonly thought, according to a study from IGN Entertainment and Ipsos Media CT.

Findings from the “Are You Game?” research study break long-standing stereotypes of gamers as solitary introverts and shows gamers are more outgoing, more active and more valuable as consumers than those who do not play video games, IGN said.

Videogamers – who are in 71% of US households – are now more likely than non-gamers to play sports, attend a concert or go out on a date.

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The research paints videogame players as a diverse crowd. Specifically, 55% of gamers polled are married and 48% have children. New gamers – those who started playing videogames in the past two years – are 32 years old on average.

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The study segments videogamers into four distinct groups -“Social Troopers,” “Family 3.0,” “Weekend Warriors” and “Traditional Core” – in order to more specifically define usage habits, purchasing patterns, media consumption, decision-making and lifestyle interests.

“Based on the research, it’s obvious that the gaming market has outgrown many commonly held stereotypes about the relative homogeneity of video gamers,” said Adam Wright, director of research for Ipsos MediaCT. “Today’s gamers represent a wide variety of demographic groups: men and women, kids, parents and grandparents, younger and older consumers. All this underscores the fact that gaming has become a mainstream medium in this country that appeals to people from all walks of life.”

Gamers Not Antisocial

Both quantitative and qualitative findings point to the increasingly social nature of videogames. More than 75% of videogamers play games with other people either online or in person, and more than 47% of people living in gaming households say videogames are a fun way to interact with their family members.

Gamers are more social and more active than non-gamers, Ipsos found. Gamers were twice as likely to go out on dates as non-gamers in a given month, 13% more likely to go out to a movie, 11% more likely to play sports and 9% more likely to go out with friends.

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Only the heaviest gamers (those who play more than 10 hours/week) would chose video games over other activities, such as going out with friends, reading or watching sports.

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Gamers as Pop-Culture Influencers

Gamers have have surpassed non-gamers as pop-culture influencers – especially in terms of television and movies. Fully 37% of gamers say friends and family rely upon them to stay up-to-date about movies, TV shows and the latest entertainment news, compared to only 22% of non-gamers. The data also points to gamers as early adopters of technology and gadgets, with 39% indicating that friends and family rely upon them to stay up-to-date about the latest technology.

Gaming Households Earn More

In terms of hard dollars, the average annual gaming household income ($79K) is notably higher than that of non-gaming households ($54K) and the value of the gamer as a marketing target can be seen in a variety of ways.

  • As early adopters, gamers show a willingness to pay extra for the latest and greatest.

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  • Gamers are twice as likely as non-gamers to buy a product featuring new technology even if they are aware that there are still ‘bugs’ in it.
  • Gamers are twice as likely to pay a premium for the newest technology on the market.
  • Gamers consume media in different ways than non-gamers, with hard-core gamers spending five more hours on the internet per week, two more hours watching TV, and two more hours listening to music.

“This study is a first-of-its kind look at how videogames and videogamers are breaking away from stereotypes that have been in place since Pong,” said Roy Bahat, general manager of IGN Entertainment. “This was more than a quantitative survey – we visited gamers in their homes and received incredibly personal feedback about how videogames influence, enhance and affect their daily lives, familial relationships and friendships.”

About the study: The research was conducted in two phases, a quantitative overview of gaming households among the US online population, and a follow-up qualitative deep-dive among the key segments. The quantitative research was conducted in June 2008 by Ipsos MediaCT among an online representative population of 3,000 12- to-54-year-olds. Respondents qualified based on whether they owned a modern gaming console, handheld system, or a PC/Mac that is used to play games. Follow-up focus groups (3) and ethnographies (3) in Los Angeles were conducted by Ipsos Understanding UnLtd. in August 2008.

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