Cultural Value of Playing Video Games

video games culture

New research proves cultural value of video gaming

Video game players are better educated and more likely to participate actively in culture. Plus, the average gamer is 43 and women are more likely to play than men.



New research from innovation charity Nesta reveals that those who play video games are better educated, no less wealthy and more likely than non-games players to participate actively in culture.

Those that play video games are better educated

Despite being played by every other European adult and worth $106.6 billion annually, it has long been debated whether video games are harmful to personal development. In Did you really take a hit? Nesta collaborated with an economist from the University of Southern Denmark in using data from the government’s Taking Part survey of 10,000 UK adults to look at the socio-economic characteristics of games players as well as their broader cultural participation.

The findings suggest that those who play video games are better educated, no less wealthy than the population average and are greater consumers of culture. They are also more likely to participate in its creation, such as through dance performance or video production.

There is no evidence of detrimental longer term socio-economic impacts of playing video games when younger either. Indeed, those who played when growing up tend to be better educated and are more likely to participate in other forms of culture, such as reading, painting, attending performing arts and visiting heritage sites and libraries.

Women are more likely to be gamers

The findings also turn the gamer stereotype on its head, with women more likely to play than men and the average gamer being aged 43. However, among those that play, females do so less often than men.

The results challenge policymakers’ perceptions of what constitutes good ‘culture’.

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, and one of the paper’s authors, comments: “Policymakers in the UK have in recent years come around to the huge economic value of the video games industry. Our research suggests that it’s time they also paid heed to its cultural value.”

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “We welcome this research that dispels the assumed stereotypes of people who play games. Games are creative, innovative and immersive experiences that enrich our everyday cultural life, and inspire new ways of understanding and interacting with the world around us. It is not surprising that this research indicates that players are more likely to be actively participating in other cultural media. Ukie has for some time been able to educate policy makers and investors of the economic value of the UK games industry, and with this research we now have robust evidence championing the social and cultural value of our world-class sector.”

Nesta has previously mapped the UK’s video games sector and led the Next Gen Review of Skills Needs of the Video Games and Visual Effects Industries which led to reform of the ICT curriculum in English schools.

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