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The Tech Deck

Pew: Half of Americans play games, 10 percent say they’re ‘gamers’

The few video combat games that now include female fighters often use futuristic sci-fi settings. (Associated Press)
The few video combat games that now include female fighters often use futuristic sci-fi settings. (Associated Press)

We begin a weekly blog series at The Tech Deck with the innocuous question, "Are you a gamer?" Seems other folks are interested in that question as well.

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research institution based in Washington, D.C., quietly released a report on video games and public opinion ahead of the holidays. The report, "Gaming and Gamers," has some interesting nuggets for those of us who grew up with controllers glued to our fingertips.

Perhaps the largest is the finding that, despite a majority of Americans playing video games, only 1 in 10 identifies as a "gamer." That could be due to the continued stigma enjoying games has in our society; 26 percent of Americans say playing video games is "a waste of time," according to the study.

Here are a few other numbers from the survey, conducted from June 10 to July 12 of this year:

  • 15 percent of men, and 6 percent of women, identify as "gamers"
  • 19 percent of Hispanics, 11 percent of blacks and 7 percent of whites identify as "gamers"
  • 14 percent say games portray women poorly and 9 percent say games portray minorities poorly
  • 40 percent say there is a connection between violent video game content and violent behavior, 53 percent say they don't think violent video games lead people to act violently

Scholars have been applying social science to gaming for decades, but Pew has yet to conduct a survey that is so sweeping in its inventory of the culture of gaming in mainstream America.

I identify as a gamer, only because I've been playing console and computer games as far back as I can remember. Pew's survey seems to support this genesis of a gaming identity, as those age 50 and above (who would have been in their 20s when Super Mario jumped his way onto our TV sets in 1985) are less likely to call themselves "gamers" as their younger counterparts. 

Were you surprised by any of these numbers? Do you identify as a "gamer"? We hope you do, and you continue to read The Tech Deck. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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