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Fun for all ages: New study says yep, videogames are good for all Kiwis
Mon, 14th Aug 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A new report has dealt a blow to those in the anti-videogame club, showing that video and computer games have positive effects on the way Kiwis learn.

The Digital New Zealand 2018 report found that 98% of households with children have computer games, and households are embracing the challenges for all kinds of reasons.

Videogames for the children

Gamification is alive and well in schools, and 70% of parents believe games are effective for teaching students. 50% believe they can help students pay attention.

The survey polled 807 households and 2288 individuals. 59% of parents say their children have used video games as part of their school curriculum – a jump from 38% this time last year.

Of course, all good things in moderation: Most parents are concerned about sexual predators, sex, bullying/harrassment and suicide in some of the games their children play.

Videogames for the grownups

But it's not just about the children – 47% of gamers are female; 73% are aged 18 or older; and the average age of a player is 34.

Kiwis spend an average of 85 minutes per day, including those who play in-depth and casually. Males have a tendency to play more in-depth (80 minutes) compared to 56 minutes for females.

We love to watch what others share, too: 72% of people say they've used walkthroughs, videos or wikis to help their own gameplay.

Bond University professor and author of the report, Dr Jeff Brand, says the report shows that older people are embracing the gaming world too.

88% of adults surveyed say they think video games can boost mental stimulation. 76% believe they can help to fight dementia and 46% say they can help increase mobility.

Games are also champions for mental agility too: 85% say games can improve thinking skills; 76% say they can improve dexterity and 52% say they can manage pain.

62% of respondents say they want to see more diversity in game characters.

“This research gives us the data to support the anecdotes that we hear every day,” comments IGEA CEO Ron Curry.

Videogames in the workplace

Gamification in the workplace is growing, particularly through games specifically designed to raise awareness of health and safety rules – as well as those used to improve their own work knowledge.

“Over a third say they had played games to gain workplace knowledge. This was the most common use of games on the job. Under a quarter played games to learn workplace rules,” the report says.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is one company that has gamified its education efforts with the help of game development firm InGame; as well as Worksafe and DairyNZ.

“Originally people reached out for gamification because games were popular. It's now been proven that games are effective for teaching procedures and problem solving, and can lead to measurable behaviour change,” comments InGame managing director Stephen Knightly.

Videogames and the economy

Digital game sales rose 20% over the last three years to $200 million, and 75% of respondents say that game development here in New Zealand benefits our local economy.

 “The medium has been accepted and normalised. Moreover, because they're so engaging and enjoyable, we're seeing games move to serve uses beyond entertainment in education, health and business training. That's where the medium gets really exciting,” Ron Curry concludes.