Leading UK games publisher and developer Jagex has today shone a light on the genuine habits of players when it comes to gaming, from preferred play location, to snack choice, to hours spent and more.
Polling just under 2,000 gamers from around the world, the in-depth study disputes – and sometimes embraces – the habits that popular culture has often linked to the gamer stereotype.
So, how do gamers play? How have lockdowns affected their habits? And how accurate is the basement-dwelling, pizza-eating gamer cliché?
From the basement to the bedroom
Contrary to popular belief, it seems that gamers do not confine themselves to basements, with over half of respondents (52.5%) actually playing games in their bedrooms. The living room follows second, with 23% seeking its relaxed confines, whereas 20.5% prefer the more formal set-up of a home office. A mere 3.5% live up to basement expectations.
Continuing the popularity of the bedroom, overwhelmingly, and across all age groups, gamers wear pyjamas and loungewear for their stints at the keyboard or at the console (43%). In lockdown life though, a surprisingly large amount (30%) are still happy to slip on a T-shirt and jeans. And a liberated 7% freely admit to wearing absolutely nothing while gaming!
When it comes to gaming in our new, indoors-focused reality of the past year, many have sought extra comfort from this hobby, both across the age groups and across the globe. Almost half (49%) say they now game more than they used to, and 15% game during the ‘standard’ working hours of 8am- 4pm. However, only a brave 8% owned up to specifically gaming when they should be working. Around13% have altered the times at which they game but maintained the same amount of gameplay, and 25% haven’t seen their habits change at all due to lockdowns. Just 5% say they now game less.
Players are also enjoying connecting with friends online while socialising in real life is on hold: A massive 71% of gamers play with other people, be they online friends, friends from “real life” or family members – this certainly suggests that gaming is a more sociable than solitary sport! Overall, people tend to game slightly more with online friends (36%) than real-life friends (28%).
Sociability is the name of the game when it comes to time of day to play too, with only 7% playing midnight to 4am as gaming night-owls, and just 2% potentially pulling all-nighters (or very early starts) and playing in the 4am – 8am slot. In general, gamers stick to much more sociable hours, with 48.5% playing during the evening slot of 8pm – midnight, and 26.5% playing 4pm- 8pm.
Phil Mansell CEO of Jagex, said: “Although the past 12 months have been incredibly challenging for everyone across the world, it’s great that gaming has cemented its place as a go-to pastime for more and more people looking to interact and socialise through online games, especially as we cope with the restrictions and lockdowns used to fight the pandemic. This past year has also clearly been important in overturning negative stereotypes about video games that linger in popular culture.”
Gaming – and other healthy lifestyle choices
Despite what people might assume when it comes to the food and drink choices of players while gaming, there’s a lot less snacking on fast food and sweets than you might imagine. Perhaps surprisingly, 37% of all players surveyed don’t eat at all while gaming, while the next biggest group (21%) only polish off home-cooked food. Less than half of that amount (10%) consume the next most popular choice – crisps – and fast food such as pizza (9%), and chocolate and sweets (5% each) languish further down in popularity by comparison. At 4%, even fruit beats the possibly more expected choices of chicken nuggets, chips and meat-based snacks (all 3% each).
The healthiest and unhealthiest age groups may also be a surprise – a whopping 60% of players aged 25- 34 either don’t eat or eat home-cooked meals while playing, compared to just 34% of players aged 35- 44. Players aged 35- 44 are also more likely to consume crisps (16%) and pizza and sweets/candy (12.5% each) than they are a home-cooked meal.
Most gamers also opt to rehydrate with water (54%) way before anything else, although a cup of tea or coffee is also enjoyed by 14%, with regular sodas/fizzy drinks the favourite choice for 9%. Again, however, older players are likely to shy away from the healthiest choices, with over 45s being powered by coffee (21%) and soft drinks/sodas (21%) before anything else, and 35- 44s even more so, with 31% for coffee and 28% for soft drinks/sodas.
Music ‘n merch
When it comes to the type of merchandise gamers choose to buy, preferences are split pretty evenly across the board between figurines, plushies, replica weapons and clothes. Posters and art is the firm overall favourite category at 23%, as well as male players’ favourite to the same degree, but female players are all about the cute soft toys with a solid 40% of female-identifying players picking them as their favourite. Curiously, although 16% of players like to buy game-inspired clothing, only 1% wear said items when gaming.
With music genres to listen to while playing, electronic was perhaps, unsurprisingly, a popular category for everyone – 19% pick it over anything else, and it registers as the favourite genre for players aged 18 – 24. The next most popular genre is rock (14%), but podcasts come in a strong third with 11%, perhaps showing that gaming and keeping yourself informed aren’t so incompatible.