Digital New Zealand 2020: The state of video games in New Zealand

Last week, the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) released the latest of its Digital New Zealand reports and the findings reveal that two-thirds of New Zealanders play video games and nine out of 10 households own a video game device.

DNZ2020 studied 801 New Zealand households and 2,255 individuals and the research was undertaken by Bond University and shows that New Zealanders enjoy and engage with video games with a consistently positive outcome on their overall health, education and well-being.

The average age of a video game player in New Zealand has remained at 34 years old, the same age found in the DZ18 report released two years ago and around half of those playing video game players are women and girls. Older New Zealanders also continue to be attracted to games, with 42 per cent of those aged 65 and over self-identifying as gamers. In fact, 78 per cent of video game players are over the age of 18.

The study also exposes the perception of the true power of video games and how they affect the lives of New Zealanders.  A large percentage, 87 per cent, says it helps them keep up their general knowledge, 70 per cent say it helps them connect with others and 65 per cent say it improves their overall life satisfaction.

Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report since its inception, says the reasons New Zealanders play games continues to broaden from their heritage of recreation and entertainment.

“With more than 10 years of research behind it, Digital New Zealand 2020 (DNZ20) gives us a gold standard into who plays video games, how they play, and why they play. Whereas in the early years, this longitudinal research helped overturn stereotypes of the average gamer, in recent years we have started to understand the deeper reasons why people play.”

“While fun is still first and foremost for New Zealand gamers, it is by no means the only reason. We found a diversity to how New Zealanders use games – from education and upskilling, to preserve social and emotional connections and as a powerful health and wellness tool in staying fit and reducing stress.”

The Digital New Zealand study also highlights how videos games are making an impact on New Zealand’s cultural footprint in the global technology ecosystem and the digital economy, with video game sales in New Zealand growing at a rate of 15% CAGR between 2013 and 2018. The latest report shows that 72% of adults believe making video games in New Zealand benefits the economy.

When it comes to training a workforce, video games are a very useful tool and 29 per cent have used video games to train workers with new skills. Interestingly, this year we saw New Zealanders of working age taking the lead in average time spent engaged with video games, with typical working age adults spending 90 minutes playing per day on average compared to the national average of all ages being 88 minutes per day.

Furthermore, the report shows the importance of video games on developing critical thinking skills. In fact, 65 per cent of parents see video games as a valuable teaching tool for STEM.

“We need to harness games as a powerful tool in building a strong and competitive future for New Zealand. The inherent problem-solving nature of interactive game play hones critical thinking and strategy skills,” said Dr Brand. “These skills can easily be applied in a professional environment, and in fact we found that New Zealanders of working age were more likely to spend longer on average playing games than those under 18 years of age.”

Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, said, “Digital New Zealand 2020 showcases how important video games are for New Zealanders. Far from the stereotype of being a solitary pursuit, in fact we found that video games continue to facilitate a shared experience for families, friends and co-workers. Video games are a key influence on all aspects of society – at home, in the workplace, and in schools. The reasons New Zealanders are playing is becoming more nuanced – it’s not just for entertainment but also to learn and connect.”

Other key findings of the Digital New Zealand Report 2020 include:

  • New Zealand households mostly use PCs to play video games – The most popular way to play games is with a PC (72 per cent), while 65 per cent of households use a smart phone to play, and 19 per cent of households own a virtual reality headset.
  • The average New Zealander’s consumption of games has increased – The average total daily video game consumption is 88 minutes, up from 85 minutes in 2018. Breaking this down by demographic – working age adults play for the longest, averaging 90 minutes a day, whereas retirement age adults play for 79 minutes. Children sit in the middle, playing video games for an average of 84 minutes a day.
  • Video games play a vital role in ageing positively – Older New Zealanders cite the role video games play in positive ageing, with the main uses cited as being to keep the mind active, have fun and be challenged.
  • Video games play a critical role in connecting parents with their children – Parents increasingly place importance on the impact video games have on forging a connection with their children. The research shows that 42 per cent of parents play games with their children in the same room, and 33 per cent play online games with their children.
  • Parents are still cautious when it comes to ensuring safety online – 84 per cent indicate they have talked with their children about playing games safely online, with 91 per cent of parents aware of parental controls, up from 88 per cent in 2018.
  • Video games continue to educate – Games continue to play an important role in a teaching and training setting. Sixty per cent of the parents surveyed said that their children use video games for educational purposes in school and 48 per cent believe that games can imbue their children with greater confidence at school.

I also spoke to Dr Brand last week about some of his findings and I’ll post that interview once I’ve got a spare moment to write it up.

Three cheers for the older gamer!! Hip, hip, hooray … hip, hip, hooray … hip, hip, hooray …

The latest Digital New Zealand 2018 study, conducted by Dr Jeff Brand from Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), indicates that 67% of Kiwis play video games, with close to half that number females; 44% of over 65s play video games and average age of the New Zealand gamer is 34.

The study canvassed 807 New Zealand households and 2288 individuals and Dr Brand, lead author of the report and Professor of Communication and Media at Bond University, said mainstream acceptance of video games and an increase in devices has translated to a ‘broad church’ of players.

“Interactive games have become a huge part of our culture and while the key reasons remain playing for fun and to pass time, games increasingly serve other uses. New Zealanders are playing for social connectedness, whether that be with family or friends. They’re playing to reduce stress, to be challenged, to learn, to keep the mind active, or for physical and mental health benefits.”

Many long time readers will know that I’m no longer classed as an average gamer (I’m a fair bit older than 34, I’m sad to say) but it’s pleasing to see that the over 65s make up the largest and fastest growing segment of people new to video games: 44% of those aged 65 and over play video games. I might not still be writing about video games when I’m over 65 but I still hope I’ve got the ability to play!

Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, said that the sale of digital games in New Zealand grew by a 20 per cent compound annual growth rate in the last three years.

“Digital New Zealand 2018 shows how the state of game play in New Zealand has progressed. Everyone plays, and they consume games just like any other media with 85 minutes the average daily total of all game play. More than that, Kiwis recognise the value of games, beyond entertainment, in the family home, schools, workplaces, health care settings and socially.”

Other findings from Digital New Zealand 2018 included New Zealanders value play for better health and positive ageing, whether that be to improve thinking skills (85%), improve dexterity (76%) or manage pain (52%). Almost ninety per cent say they play to increase mental stimulation, 76 per cent state video games help fight dementia, and 46 per cent agreed playing games can help increase mobility and Half of parents play video games together with their children in the same room. One in four play video games together with their children online, and most parents (86%) have talked with a child about playing safely online.

You can find more about the report and IGEA here.

The changing face of the New Zealand video game player

 

image-0001

 

Take a look at the graphic. It shows the changing face of the New Zealand interactive entertainment landscape. As a longtime video game player and champion of the medium, I’m liking what I’m seeing.

DNZ16 is the fourth report from the Australian IGEA and Bond University’s Professor Jeffery Brand and Stewart Todhunter on the influence of interactive entertainment in New Zealand, and it shows, among other things, that the face of the New Zealand video game player is changing.

Here is the foreword to the report and I think it sums everything up nicely.

We are witnessing breathtaking changes in the realm of digital interactive entertainment. It is hard to imagine that 15 years ago, we were debating the worth, even potential harms, of simple video games.

Today attention is on the potential of this amazing medium to reinvigorate education, workplace training, consumer engagement and social and political conversation. Interactive entertainment is celebrated for its economic importance. There have been many voices in the call to treat games as a serious medium for the knowledge age.

The three IGEA-Bond University reports preceding this one have contributed to the chorus of voices. These national New Zealand studies of computer game audiences have broken down stereotypes that prevented understanding in the wider community that computer games were not only a popular medium, but a productive medium.

You can download a full copy of the DNZ16 report here and I suggest you read through it as it makes for a really interesting insight, but because I’m a nice guy here are the key findings in an easy to digest graphical format. You’re welcome.

image-0002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to DNZ16, 70% of those that took part believed that video games can improve thinking, 47% believed video games could help fight dementia and 28% of respondents who were aged over 50 played video games to keep their mind active.  Food for thought, right?

It comes as no surprise that the average of a video game player is 34 [I’m much, much older than that. Interestingly, in my demographic: the, ahem, 45 to 54 age bracket, 54% play games], 48% of video game players are women and 13 years is the average years respondents have been playing video games.

DNZ16 found that 88 minutes was the average play time for people [I struggle to get in an hour a day sometimes due to work and other commitments] and 98% of homes with children have some form of video games in them.

The full report itself has much more information for you to digest but I’d be really interested to know why you play video games [interactive entertainment], no matter whether it’s console, PC or mobile, what you think of the findings and where you fit into the interactive entertainment demographic.