Gamers, according to many of the non-gaming public, are social misfits — overweight, unemployed and socially inept.
Yet this stereotype is not only derogatory but unsupported by facts. In truth, games provide more cognitive stimulation than watching television — one of America’s favorite pastimes. In January 2013, researchers from the Queensland University of Technology published an analysis of the effects of watching TV versus playing video games. Their research determined that watching TV is a passive experience, while gaming is interactive and mentally stimulating. And in children, it can boost self-esteem, cognitive skills, and, in some cases, activity levels (in games with motion-sensing technology).
Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive sciences researcher at the University of Rochester, also conducted an analysis of the influence of video games on the brain. Her research, which involved more than 20 independent studies, concluded that gamers perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking.
Currently, 49% of U.S. households have at least one dedicated game console, which is astonishing considering the widespread acceptance of the gamer stereotype. A study conducted by the Entertainment Software Association in 2012 revealed that 47% of gamers are female, contrary to popular perception, and the average age of frequent game buyers is 35 years old. The same study reported that U.S. gamers spent more than $24 billion on game content and accessories each year. All of which indicates that gamers are grownups with jobs and money to spend — far from the basement-lurking dropouts they’re made out to be.
Top: Trey Parker and Matt Stone perpetuated a cruel stereotype with the South Park episode “Make Love, Not Warcraft” as Cartman and the boys spiral into hell due to their gaming addiction.