UK games publisher and developer Jagex has shone a light on the habits of gamers, 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 per cent) actually playing games in their bedrooms. The living room follows second, with 23 per cent seeking its relaxed confines, whereas 20.5 per cent prefer the more formal set-up of a home office. A mere 3.5 per cent 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 per cent). In lockdown life though, a surprisingly large amount (30 per cent) are still happy to slip on a T-shirt and jeans. And a liberated 7 per cent 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 per cent) say they now game more than they used to, and 15 per cent game during the ‘standard’ working hours of 8am- 4pm. However, only a brave 8 per cent owned up to specifically gaming when they should be working. Around13 per cent have altered the times at which they game but maintained the same amount of gameplay, and 25 per cent haven’t seen their habits change at all due to lockdowns. Just 5 per cent say they now game less.
Players are also enjoying connecting with friends online while socialising in real life is on hold: A massive 71 per cent 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 per cent) than real-life friends (28 per cent).
Sociability is the name of the game when it comes to time of day to play too, with only 7 per cent playing midnight to 4am as gaming night-owls, and just 2 per cent 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 per cent playing during the evening slot of 8pm – midnight, and 26.5 per cent 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 per cent of all players surveyed don’t eat at all while gaming, while the next biggest group (21 per cent) only polish off home-cooked food. Less than half of that amount (10 per cent) consume the next most popular choice – crisps – and fast food such as pizza (9 per cent), and chocolate and sweets (5 per cent each) languish further down in popularity by comparison. At 4 per cent, even fruit beats the possibly more expected choices of chicken nuggets, chips and meat-based snacks (all 3 per cent each).
The healthiest and unhealthiest age groups may also be a surprise – a whopping 60 per cent of players aged 25- 34 either don’t eat or eat home-cooked meals while playing, compared to just 34 per cent of players aged 35- 44. Players aged 35- 44 are also more likely to consume crisps (16 per cent) and pizza and sweets/candy (12.5 per cent each) than they are a home-cooked meal.
Most gamers also opt to rehydrate with water (54 per cent) way before anything else, although a cup of tea or coffee is also enjoyed by 14 per cent, with regular sodas/fizzy drinks the favourite choice for 9 per cent. Again, however, older players are likely to shy away from the healthiest choices, with over 45s being powered by coffee (21 per cent) and soft drinks/sodas (21 per cent) before anything else, and 35- 44s even more so, with 31 per cent for coffee and 28 per cent 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 per cent, as well as male players’ favourite to the same degree, but female players are all about the cute soft toys with a solid 40 per cent of female-identifying players picking them as their favourite. Curiously, although 16 per cent of players like to buy game-inspired clothing, only 1 per cent wear said items when gaming.
With music genres to listen to while playing, electronic was perhaps, unsurprisingly, a popular category for everyone – 19 per cent 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 per cent), but podcasts come in a strong third with 11 per cent, perhaps showing that gaming and keeping yourself informed aren’t so incompatible.