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Study busts beliefs about gamers; finds them social, skilled

Nearly everyone who plays video games has had to fight off the perception that gamers are just loser loners who set up in their parents’ basements. But while armchair debaters have long pointed out that just isn’t the case – citing the rise of social gaming, mobile gaming, the fact that the U.S. spent $13.5 billion on gaming in 2013 – there haven’t been a lot of hard data on hand.

Until now.

Admittedly, citing data may not help fight the perception that gamers are nerds. But the results of a new study commissioned by the video-game streaming network Twitch and conducted by noted social researcher Neil Howe (the man credited with coining the term “millennial”) offer an entirely new and different picture of the gaming community.

The study suggests that gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than the nongaming population.

The study, released Thursday by Howe’s LifeCourse Associates consulting firm, surveyed more than 1,000 people through the Internet about their gaming habits and then pulled some basic demographic information.

For purposes of this study, a “gamer” was defined as anyone who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days.

Approximately 63 percent of those surveyed fit that definition.

Twitch decided to commission the study because the community of gamers on its popular streaming site – the site gets around 45 million unique hits per month – was clearly not at all reflective of that old gamer stereotype, said Matt DiPietro, the company’s vice president of marketing.

“There’s this perception that (the community) comprises loners and rejects … and that couldn’t be more wrong,” he said. “We didn’t go in with an idea of what the data would show, but we knew what we thought the data would show, And it showed what we knew to be true.”

According to a copy of the study provided to the Washington Post, gamers are more likely to be living with other people such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the statement, “My friends are the most important thing in my life.” About 57 percent of gamers agreed with that statement, as compared with 35 percent of nongamers.

The study also found that gamers are split more evenly by gender than they have been in the past, with 52 percent of video-game players surveyed identifying as male.

Gamers are also slightly more likely to be employed full-time – 42 percent for gamers, 39 percent for nongamers.