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Average Gamer Is 35, Fat and Bummed 439

Posted by Soulskill
from the fun-also-causes-cancer dept.
kamapuaa writes "According to a study published in the upcoming October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the average US video game player is 35 years old, overweight, and tends toward depression. Specifically, female video game players tended towards depression, while males tended towards large BMIs. While the study itself points to several conclusions, one researcher noted: '... habitual use of video games as a coping response may provide a genesis for obsessive-compulsive video-game playing, if not video-game addiction.'" On the flip side, the Washington Post is running a story about the mental health benefits of playing video games.

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Average Gamer Is 35, Fat and Bummed

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  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:57AM (#29119797) Homepage

    We keep hearing about how the average age of a gamer is around 30. It's surprising, but I can deal with that. Not unreasonable. Now 35? That's a little tougher to swallow, and a cursory look at the article shows why.

    Investigators from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90, according to the study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

    (Emphasis mine).

    The study excluded kids. It's just adult gamers.

    Still it's a little tough to believe that the average age is 35 unless there were few members of the study outside their 30s, or their definition of "gamer" is quite loose. They may consider going to Atlantic City and playing video poker a "gamer", but just because someone Skis once a year or so, are they a Skier? I know we want to count casual gamers, but we still need to exclude "irregular" gamers for the purposes of studies like this, or the findings are quite meaningless.

  • by Sterrance (1257342) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:01AM (#29119855)
    that the survey wasn't national. They "analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90, according to the study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine." No offense to my fellow Americans in Seattle, but its not the happiest place with 226 days of cloudyness. The data might be a bit unbalanced.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:09AM (#29119989)

    Sumo wrestlers are video game addicts?

  • by Rhys (96510) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:43AM (#29120519) Homepage

    Wolfram Alpha tells me the average age in the US is 36 years old (though it includes kids). Wikipedia tells me 64% of adults (excluding kids) are overweight/obese. I'm having trouble quantifying the tends toward depression. There's about 5% of the population (including kids?) estimated suffering from medically defined major depression disorder(s).

    So yeah, at least in the same ballpark.

  • Re:Is it me? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoralHazard (447833) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:45AM (#29120539)

    Sigh... It's not just you--vast swathes of other people, certainly the majority of the Western world, are ignorant of basic statistical concepts, just like you (no disrespect!). A sample size of 500 is almost certainly big enough for this kind of study.

    For any given sample-extrapolation experiment, you can calculate a "conservative" sample size that will be "big enough" to meet your criteria for confidence level, confidence interval, etc. I just Googled this guy up, if you want to play around with some values, to see how big of a sample you need if you want to extrapolate to a population of 300,000,000:

      * http://www.surveysystem.com/sample-size-formula.htm [surveysystem.com]

    (PROTIP: It's smaller than you think.)

    Wikipedia has an explanation of what/how/why, but I'll warn you ahead of time, unless you already took a stats class and just need a refresher, you won't understand (no disrespect!):

      * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sample_size#Estimating_proportions [wikipedia.org]

    For those too lazy to FTFL (no disrespect!), it takes somewhere around 1,000-2,000 sample members, if you want to get a 95% confidence level and a confidence interval of 5%, given a p/q split of ~ .5/.5. So assuming these researchers did their math correctly when they formally stated the results of their significance tests.

    (NOTE: I'm NOT saying the study is valid--that's a whole 'nother Oprah. I'm just making a general statement about how big of a sample size a study needs to obtain a certain amount of probabalistic reliability.)

  • by Tuidjy (321055) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:48AM (#29120597)

    No, he is saying that 50% of the 66% (overweight ones) are obese.

  • by AnyNoMouse (715074) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:05PM (#29120779)
    Hikokomori http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori [wikipedia.org]

    There's a similar behavior called NEET http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neet [wikipedia.org]

    The first one is probably closer to what you're thinking, though.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zancarius (414244) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:26PM (#29121193) Homepage Journal

    Specifically you mean the United States world... Other developed nations do not have our problem for one reason or another.

    Let's be fair here. It's not just the United States [breitbart.com]. I think there's a disproportionate number of predominantly Caucasian Westernized countries that are of expanding waistline girth.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Delkster (820935) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:35PM (#29121413)

    Specifically you mean the United States world... Other developed nations do not have our problem for one reason or another.

    Some do [wikimedia.org], although not quite to the same extent. Yet anyway.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:39PM (#29121505) Journal

    If you read the details of the study it's flawed beyond belief. They argue the average gamer isn't an adolescent, yet they only spoke to the 19+ crowd. They interviewed people in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains all the time and there's probably lot of SAD going on. (That's Seasonal Affective Disorder people.)

    In short, it's yet another bollocks study given credence by it popping up everywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:45PM (#29121615)

    The point is that gamers are even fatter, etc. than average. FTFA:
      "male players reported a higher BMI and more Internet use time than nonplayers."

  • Re:Is it me? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:02PM (#29121905)

    The population size required usually assumes a totally random sample amongst the population you want to study; that way all your possible confounds are evened out.

    "Average Gamer is 35, Fat and Bummed" would seem to make a statement about all gamers, of all ages, worldwide.

    The study was actually done on a population ranging in age from 19 to 90 in the Seattle region.

    They may have gotten a large enough group of people, but their sampling methodology doesn't seem up to snuff. They can probably say an awful lot with great confidence about adults from Seattle; but applying that everywhere else gets dubious.

  • Re:Is it me? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:58PM (#29122945)
    He did mention location bias from sampling people all in seattle. I think there are far more problems with survey methodology we don't know about. I never trust surveys that don't print the survey they used with the results. How do I know they weren't leading questions. What did they do to deal with controls vs the average population? There are many questions that could be asked of most surveys that will never be answered. Many of them could entirely change the results of the survey so It is difficult giving them any credence at all.

    95% confidence level my ass :( you make it sound like almost facts.
  • Re:Is it me? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @02:33PM (#29123701)

    Those statistical methods require a RANDOM SAMPLE, which this study surely didn't have... dumbass. (disrespect)

  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:21PM (#29124527)

    It seems to me like all their study found was that the average gamer is the average person in that place.

    No, if they found a correlation between video gaming, weight, and depression in their subject population, what it means is that gamers are more overweight and depressed than non-gamers (not to imply causation) on average among the population they sampled. If the gamers and non-gamers in their sample were equally overweight, no matter how much overweight, then no correlation would have been found.

    Now, I suppose it is theoretically possible they didn't actually find a correlation, but just took the average weight of everybody who reported gaming more than X hours per week, and found that average to be overweight - as so many here are assuming - but it's an extreme stretch of the imagination that they would be so foolish, and that the CDC would fund anybody to do that, and that nobody reviewing for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine knows what an observational correlation study is. No, I don't find that plausible at all.

    Too bad nobody has posted a link to the paper though.

  • Re:Is it me? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:53PM (#29125033)

    Sigh... It's not just you--vast swathes of other people, certainly the majority of the Western world, are ignorant of basic statistical concepts, just like you (no disrespect!). A sample size of 500 is almost certainly big enough for this kind of study.

    And you have fallen victim to the assumption that raw numbers alone are enough to satisfy the statistical model.

    First of all let me point out that this data was from one region. ONE REGION. That alone invalidates your statistical analysis when applied beyond the immediate area. You are, in essence, saying that ONE data point out of 50 is enough to make a valid determination, which it is not. In order for it to be statistically valid the samples need to be RANDOM out of the entire area you are attempting to apply the results to. As a result, the margin of error in this study, if applied to the entire country, is nearly 100%.

    Example: You survey 500 people in Florida to see what they wear during the coldest part of the year, and then take your results and apply them to Alaska. Statistically, according to you, most people in the US would be walking around in shorts and t-shirts, with maybe a light jacket, even in places where A) the temperature is so low you simply would not survive and B) there aren't any people to start with.

    Just because something is statistically valid, does not mean it bears any reflection on reality. You have to apply the data properly, and in the case of the study in the article, since they only sampled in one region, those statistics are only valid for that region. In addition, they are only valid for adults in that region, and only adults who play games.

  • Re:Is it me? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @04:30PM (#29125565)

    Yes, but what you fail to realize is that this only applies to the average gamer in Seattle. You can't very well estimate the entire population of the country based on one distinct geographical location. Do you honestly believe Texas and Seattle's populations are the same?

    Also, go back to wikipedia and check out the definition of "Population". Notice the random sample part? This is not a random sampling of the entire population of the United States.

  • Re:Woohoo (Score:3, Informative)

    by slashnik (181800) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @06:09PM (#29126749)

    What?

    In British English (well at least around here) to be bummed means to have anal sex.

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