Byline: Hayley Tsukayama
Nearly everyone who plays video games has had to fight off the perception that gamers are loser loners who set up in their parents' basements. Armchair debaters have long said that just isn't the case - citing the rise of social gaming and mobile gaming and the fact that U.S. spending on gaming in 2013 was $13.5 billion - but there hasn't been a lot of hard data on hand.
Admittedly, citing data may not help fight the perception that gamers are nerds. But the results of a study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by social researcher Neil Howe (a.k.a. the man credited with coining the term "millennial") offer a new picture of the gaming community. The study suggests that gamers tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than the non-gaming population.
The study surveyed more than 1,000 people online about their gaming habits and then pulled some basic demographic information. A "gamer" was defined as anyone who had played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days. About 63 percent of those surveyed fit that definition.
The community of gamers on Twitch's popular streaming site - it gets about 45 million unique hits a month - was clearly not reflective of that old gamer stereotype, said Matt DiPietro, the company's vice president of marketing.
"There's this perception that [the community] comprises loners and rejects . . . and that couldn't be more wrong," he said. "We didn't go in with an idea of what the data would show, but we knew what we thought the data would show. And it showed what we knew to be true."
According to the study, gamers are more likely than others to live with people such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the statement: "My friends are the most important thing in my life."
Gamers are also slightly more likely to be employed full time - 42 percent for gamers vs. 39 percent for non-gamers.
Gamers spend a lot of time using gadgets and also tend to spend a lot time with media. They're also more likely to be cord-cutters who watch video through services such as Netflix or Hulu - posing a problem to those who want to market to them.
"They're a particularly valuable group of people," DiPietro said. "But they're also particularly difficult to reach via traditional channels."
Cracking the code on targeting gamers is, in part, what's made Twitch so popular. The service hosts about 1 million livestreams of games a month. Sandvine estimates that Twitch accounts for 1.35 percent ofall U.S. peak Internet traffic, beatingHBO Go.