The average age of gamers in Australia today is a little over 30 years--up from 28 last year--according to a nationwide survey that provides insight into the video gaming habits of Australians.
According to the Interactive Australia 2009 report (IA9), 17 percent of adults in game households admitted to having pirated games in their collections, with nearly 10 percent of all games in Australian homes being illegal copies. Half of these pirated games came from copies made by family or friends.
The report also found that console games now account for 82 percent of game software unit sales, with family games being the most popular genre on consoles at 22 percent of all unit sales. Action, racing, and adventure games remained among the top five genres for consoles; on PC, strategy games dominate the category followed by first-person shooters, simulation games, and RPGs.
Console hardware sales reached 1.7 million consoles in 2007 and 2008. The DS took the top spot with 34 percent of sales, followed by the Wii (21 percent), PlayStation 2 (15 percent), PlayStation 3 (11 percent), Xbox 360 (10 percent), and PSP (9 percent).
Launched in Sydney today, the IA9 report from the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia also showed that 91 per cent of those surveyed support the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games.
The third study of its kind since 2005, the research was conducted and prepared by Bond University in Queensland, based on a random sample of 1,614 national households fielded by Nielsen Research in July this year. Of the 4,852 adult individuals surveyed, 68 per cent (3162) identified themselves as gamers, responding to more than 75 questions in a 20-minute online survey.
The aim of the report is to provide insight into Australia's gamers, and particularly the questions of who is playing video games in Australia, the importance of games in the family experience, the role of online access in game purchasing and play, and how gamers compare with nongamers on key demographics and attitudes toward gaming. Dr Jeffrey Brand, one of the authors of the study from Bond University, says the advantage of repeating the study is observing trends.
"Overall, the biggest trend is that games are more mainstream than they have ever been, and Australians who play them are more diverse," Dr Brand said. "Older Australians and more women are playing. The implication here is that games are becoming more diverse and meeting more entertainment needs."
The IA9 report predicts that by the year 2014, the average age of those who play video games will be the same as the average age of all Australians.
"The prediction is based simply on the trajectory of increasing average age among gamers," Dr Brand said. "The average age of Australians today is 36 years. Once playing computer and video games is something that is common across all ages, the average age of gamers will be the same as the average age of nongamers and, therefore, the average age of all people in this country. The gap is closing."
Yet according to Dr Brand, the biggest surprise to come from the IA9 report is how Australians feel about the classification of video games. According to the study, 91 per cent of those surveyed, both gamers and nongamers, agreed that Australia should have an R18+ classification.
"A large majority of Australians now think we should have an R18+ classification for games," Dr Brand said. "I considered that one statistic in our 2005 research might have been an anomaly: That 88 percent of gamers and nongamers said Australia should have this classification. We asked the question again this year and found that 91 percent said this. The result is astounding. Rarely in public opinion research does an unequivocal number like this show up."
The IA9 report found that 78 percent of parents say an adult is present when games are purchased for their children, and 92 percent of parents say they are aware of the games that are played in their homes. Families are also engaging with games: 70 percent of parents in game households play computer and video games and 80 percent of those parents play them with their children.
"I think this says something about modern parents," Dr Brand said. "I'm one of them. I have three boys aged 5 to 11; they all play computer games, my wife and I play them too. Sometimes we all play together. It's fun; it strengthens our family and keeps us as parents across what's happening. The adults who say games are more harmful than helpful are generally adults who don't play games themselves. It's a stereotype, plain and simple.
"Computer games are no longer thought of as toys or child's play. As more people have begun using games, old stereotypes and misplaced fears have faded and more rational understanding about the medium has grown."
To read more about the IA9 report and the habits of Aussie gamers, check out our feature, Player Profiles, here.