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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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  • Hmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by XPeter (1429763) * on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:43AM (#29119543) Homepage

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think the mods intentionally replaced "Slashdotter" with "Gamer" in the title?

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:50AM (#29119671) Homepage

      I think you could probably replace gamer with "person" and still be accurate.
      At least in the developed world, where age distribution tends to bulge out at around 35-40. Waistlines bulge out at around the same time, just in time for a mid-life crisis.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:37AM (#29120421)

        The traditional and popular answers for coping with depression ("get out more!") don't work for introverts. I would expect that introverts are overrepresented in the "gamer" demographic.

        But I don't think it is loneliness that depresses this group. I suspect it is meaninglessness. existential crisis [wikipedia.org] hits this kind of person pretty hard. Not only is life itself meaninglessness, but their life in particular is meaningless. Goals for goals' sake have no motivational power, so they lack drive to do much of anything apart from play their games. They go to work and perform your basic survival tasks out of rote habit. Such is the life of someone who can't find anything that is really exciting.

        It is easy to say "well you lack drive, and that is what is wrong with you." The answer is rejected out of hand, since such people are clear-minded enough to see that the only reason they "lack drive" is because the meaningless bullshit that drives most people is precisely that...meaningless bullshit...and hence they simply can't get excited about it, even if they try.

        You don't help such people by taking away their games and forcing them to go to dance clubs (or whatever). They just sit there, feeling alone in the crowd, and wishing they could be doing something more interesting than listen to air-heads blather on about shoes.

        In my experience (anecdote. sue me.) study of psychology, physics, and philosophy keep life seeming interesting enough to be worth the trouble. I combine that with games, of course, because entertainment is important too. Also, I meditate (non-religious), but I realize that not everyone finds non-drug-induced altered states of consciousness to be as intriguing as I do.

        I am going to say it is "ok" for people to be this way. If these methods of coping with depression don't work, then get a prescription for some mood-altering drugs. That is ok too. Just don't let people tell you that you are some kind of failure for having seen the valuelessness of the bullshit they proffer as being worthwhile.

        • by The Living Fractal (162153) <{banantarr} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:48PM (#29121661) Homepage

          You are mostly hitting the nail on the head. You're missing the part where the search for meaning is clouded by hopelessness. In other words, if these people might find motivation through the attempt to discover meaning, i.e. scientific research, or the arts, or religion, etc, they become even more depressed when they fail and think they will never be able to achieve it... i.e. hopelessness destroys their search for meaning.

          The key solution to the existential crisis is ... surprise: existentialism.

          Life is amazing, with or without meaning. Existence is a miracle that cannot be explained, but can be experienced. So why not experience it to the fullest? Live your life knowing that none of it matters and that it's OK that none of it matters, because the only thing important is that you enjoy the experience, which you may never have again.

          Some highly intellectual people get so tied up on finding 'meaning' that they forget to stop and smell the roses. It's like some kind of loop in our brains, and for many people it is only 'closed' when they find religion. For others, only something as powerful as prescription drugs can close it.

          But for those of us 'intellectuals' who are merely 'bummed' about it, we can often self-medicate using various methods -- existentialism being one of them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hal_Porter (817932)

          You don't help such people by taking away their games and forcing them to go to dance clubs (or whatever). They just sit there, feeling alone in the crowd, and wishing they could be doing something more interesting than listen to air-heads blather on about shoes.

          Think of life as being an adventure. No, I'm not being trite, consider.

          You are in a room at a club. It is dark. An airhead is talking about shoes. It is dark here, you may be beaten by a chav.

          :N

          You go North. You are in a room at a club. It is dark. A cute girl is wearing a T shirt with an XKCD cartoon on it

          :TALK TO GIRL

          Her name is Tina, she is studying for a PhD in physics....

          And look on the bright side. At least Tina speaks the same language as you. Some of us have it much

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by h3llfish (663057)
          You raise some interesting points here, my anonymous cowardly friend, and your logic is sound enough. But I think you are wrong.

          I'm speaking as one of those introverted, video-game-playing depressed people. I identify very much with your comments. But, I don't think you've linked introversion and depression closely enough. The way you word things, it sounds like introverts and extroverts are equally likely to get depressed. I just don't think that's the case. I have no science or numbers to back tha
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shiftless (410350)

            The problem is that 90% of people who consider themselves "introverts" are actually just nerds with no social skills. The reason they don't enjoy interaction with others is because they're not any good at it. The cure for this, of course, is to go out, socialize, meet people, and develop their social skills. Try telling them that, though; they'd rather sit at home and brood about life. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Would love to stay and chat with you about how much life sucks

            • The problem is that 90% of people who consider themselves "introverts" are actually just nerds with no social skills. The reason they don't enjoy interaction with others is because they're not any good at it. The cure for this, of course, is to go out, socialize, meet people, and develop their social skills.

              No, the "cure" is to learn social skills during childhood and adolescence, like everyone else. Those are the times when one is emerged in [at least the institutionalized simulacrum of] actual societ

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by vertinox (846076)

        At least in the developed world, where age distribution tends to bulge out at around 35-40. Waistlines bulge out at around the same time, just in time for a mid-life crisis.

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

        Basically our lifestyle really only works for people 18-30, but after that we fall apart.

        Now take someone living in Japan and you'll see that they don't have our obesity and health problems. Probably because they don

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chyeld (713439)

          Now take someone living in Japan and you'll see that they don't have our obesity and health problems. Probably because they don't use cars as much as we do and use their nice public transportation and walk a lot and their diet consists of generally healthy things like fish.

          That and they tend to kill themselves [timesonline.co.uk] before they can become part of the statistic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Zancarius (414244)

          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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Delkster (820935)

          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.

      • Wow, you kind of missed the point. The study actually makes 2 claims:

        1) The average BMI, age, mental health index, etc. for the "gamer" population are ~ X, Y, Z, etc., and for the non-gamer population, they're ~ A, B, C, etc. (I don't know the exact values and standard error values, they aren't quoted in the article. But I'm sure that the researchers did calculate and publish them.)

        2) The gamer and non-gamer populations truly differ W.R.T. BMI and mental health index. That is, the gamer/non-gamer samples d

      • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CDMA_Demo (841347)

      ....replaced "Slashdotter" with "Gamer" in the title?

      I think they replaced "Anonymous Coward" with Slashdotter, and then to Gamer

    • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
      Average Gamer Is 35, Fat and Bummed

      .

      How's that any news? Thought it was common knowledge ;-)

  • by grub (11606) * <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:44AM (#29119549) Homepage Journal

    Alex Trebek: This average Gamer Is 35, Fat and Bummed
    Contestant: What is slashdot?
    Alex Trebek: Can you be more specific?
    Contestant: Who is Cowboy Neal?
    Alex Trebek: Congratulations to our new Jeopardy champion!
  • Woohoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:46AM (#29119597) Journal

    I'm under average!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:46AM (#29119599)
    Video games as coping mechanism. That's an interesting way of looking at this. I found that when I played World of Warcraft, that's exactly what it was. It allowed me to cope with not having a girlfriend and deaden my emotions to the outside world. In that sense it became very addictive. I think it would probably be very similar to drinking alcohol or some drug.

    It's funny because WoW is the only game that did that to me. I'm glad I stopped playing because now I don't feel like an automaton (gradually regaining my humanity), but I really feel bad for all the people who are like me who are still playing for that reason. I think WoW is a great game if you can just play it as a game to have fun, but I'm just not one of those people.

    Funnily enough I can still play console games without any problems, they are not the same at all. Perhaps it's just pseudo social aspect, or the feeling while playing WoW that you are forced to grind (e.g. it's out of your control). An interesting thing that will probably be studied by psychologists for years to come.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lorenlal (164133)

      As an admitted WoW addict (I've been playing a lot more lately due to increased free time... That'll change in about a month):

      I have a habit where I really get into the storytelling and exploration aspect of a game. I'll play a particular game obsessively, reach the end, and never go back to it. I treat my games the way many of my friends (and fiancee) treat books. I'm sure you see where I'm going with this...

      WoW has no "end." It slowly expands, and I don't think that there's a way that I'm ever going

      • by bill_kress (99356)

        When I was young I got addicted to a MUD (To the tune of a lot of money since the only one I knew of was dialup/pay, common access to the internet didn't exist then).

        I never got into the MMORPGs because I learned my lesson back then. Funny how that game type has the same addictiveness in modem/text form as it does in full-fledged 3-d graphics form. The big difference is that the text form drew a small, specific group and the new ones draw from a much larger base, but same thing once you're into it.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:39AM (#29120447) Homepage

      I too used video games as a coping mech...

      Come home from work and spend an hour on UT, UT2003,UT2004,Unreal3 taking head shots and tea-bagging the dead bodies... Made me unwind from driving home with the collective pile of Idiots that drive on the roads around here.

      Lately I've been using them as a way to play with friends afar. Lots of board games exist for the Xbox 360 and with headsets we can talk. works great to play a game of Catan with friends when we cant get together for it.

    • I dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:44AM (#29120533) Journal

      Well, that _some_ people will play it as some great escape from a shitty reality, is I suppose true of anything else. Equally I know someone who' a workaholic to escape the rest of reality, and pretty much because work is the only place where he's appreciated. Other people go fishing to escape reality, or spend hours tuning their car, or whatever else.

      On the other hand, I only need to look at my parents who took to WoW like to cocaine. And, you know, they're a lot over 35 and not exactly the stereotypical image of the lonely gamer or slashdotter either. You know, what with one of them being a woman, and both of them having gotten laid before (or I wouldn't be here.)

      The other die-hard gamers I know, most are married, the majority are of average weight, and one is pencil-thin. Only one was obese, but the key word is "was." (Suspiciously, he started exercising after someone sent around a link to a study saying that the obese and smokers cost the health insurance less because they die a lot earlier;)

      So I just have to wonder. Maybe they just saw that the average gamer was fat and depressed because the average person wherever the study was done was fat and depressed?

    • by RyoShin (610051)

      I think that's sort of happening with me and TF2. I agree that the difference between WoW/TF2 and other games is that you get that added social interaction, and there's a lot of it. Even if you're not actively talking to someone, you're still doing something to/with them. It goes some way to make up for a lack of social interaction (an unfortunate part of my life right now, living in the middle of the country with no job, money, or friends). With regular video games, there's far less challenge because

    • Oh common, first we have to look at the study, and yes I looked at the paper. 500 people polled in an area of 3,344,814 people (defined by US Census) - That's 0.15% of the population. Now of the 500 people 225 people were gamers. So the average is based on 225 people in 3 million. When it talks about gender, the 225 is further reduced due to the male/female split. Finally add to all of this that people were asked to self-diagnose, so either they only polled medical experts or they're relying on 500 individu
    • Everyone has SOME form of escape in their lives. Some are just healthier than others. Personally, I think videogames are pretty mild compared to the dangers of SOME forms of escapism.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:47AM (#29119607) Journal

    I don't understand these studies about addictive gamers who are depressed, lonely, blah blah blah. Gaming, like watching tv dramas or sports or news, or listening to the radio or ipod, is simply a way to pass the time. Why gaming would make someone depressed makes zero sense to me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I don't think the inference is that gaming leads to depression, but that its a coping mechanism for it. I can honestly say I've WoW to avoid real life. Since then I've since beat the game! (quit)
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Its makes perfect sense to me as I find how much time I spend gaming or online is a good barometer on how depressed I am. I find that the better my moods, the less time Im willing to spend controlling a little avatar and doing repetitive tasks for virtual reward. The better I feel the less obsessive I am about things in general.

      >Gaming, like watching tv dramas or sports or news, or listening to the radio or ipod, is simply a way to pass the time.

      Sure, but the bigger question here is why do some people

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I havent RTFA but...

      females tend to be depressed
      males tend to be overweight

      sounds about right for the USA... is there a control for this based on the gaming + non-gaming demographic?
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:08AM (#29119965)

      I don't understand these studies about addictive gamers who are depressed, lonely, blah blah blah. Gaming, like watching tv dramas or sports or news, or listening to the radio or ipod, is simply a way to pass the time. Why gaming would make someone depressed makes zero sense to me.

      I think the bit about "coping mechanism" is key. If we look at alcoholism, there are some people who are genetically predispositioned to be hooked. Those are the people whose problem is drinking itself. You'll have others who use alcohol as the coping mechanism. Could have been alcohol, could have been some other form of escapism. Plenty of normal people can enjoy alcohol without either becoming addicted or otherwise abusing it. The problem is not alcohol but how we use it.

      I don't think you'll find anyone who could say bad things about books but lots of us geeks used them as coping mechanisms when we were young. I never related well with my classmates so I just retreated into my books. While it certainly did wonders for my vocabulary, it stunted my social development. You can never avoid dealing with people while having a successful life, not unless you can pull off being a JD Salinger or make your fortune before you go all Howard Hughes.

      Video games do have an addictive component to them, just like gambling. It's an addictive behavior. Some people are naturally susceptible to getting sucked in to all that. A friend of mine mailed his whole game collection home from college after he realized he lost an entire day while playing one. His roommate flunked out thanks to Diablo. Could have just as easily been thanks to booze and partying but shit, they were in the engineering program.

      So, back to your original question. People who lack self-control and fall into addictive behaviors can become sad and depressed because they fucked up their lives thanks to a stupid game. I'm sure we all remember reading about World of Warcraft and Evercrack flameouts here on Slashdot, threw away marriages and careers over the damn game. Then there's people who are already sad and depressed and frustrated with the world and escape into video games so that they can find a place where they feel they are in control. There was a good article discussing this very social mechanism in South Korea. You can also see this sort of thing with the otaku in Japan who end up becoming shut-ins, I forget the name for that. It's a severe social avoidance phobia where they lock themselves in their rooms and passive Japanese parenting approaches allow the state to persist for years. In Western countries this sort of thing would sooner rather than later lead to a violent confrontation and kicking the kid out of the house.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      People can be quite addicted to tv dramas, sports, and news.

      You've never noticed the people that just HAVE to get home to watch their favorite tv show? Talk about it incessantly? Miss other social engagements to watch it if they aren't able to record it and it won't be available online until *gasp* TOMORROW (and they can't bear to be the last person on earth to see the latest drama)?

      People get addicted. To a lot of things. It's just always just a "simple way" to pass the time. It becomes a "need," acco

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:27AM (#29120253)

      I don't understand these studies about addictive gamers who are depressed, lonely, blah blah blah. Gaming, like watching tv dramas or sports or news, or listening to the radio or ipod, is simply a way to pass the time. Why gaming would make someone depressed makes zero sense to me.

      I think these studies are kind of missing the point.

      In the US at least, things are changing. A lot of people are relatively isolated in their personal lives. We're expected to work longer and longer hours, for worse and worse pay. We get less time off. There's less time for socialization. There's less access to healthy food. Lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.

      Folks get home from a long day at a job they don't like, cram some unhealthy food down their throats, and then disconnect from the world - they play video games, or surf the web, or watch tv, or get drunk, or whatever.

      It doesn't surprise me that folks are, in general, overweight and tending towards depression.

    • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:29AM (#29120279)
      There's two major flaws with the study:

      1. The test group was 500 people from Seattle/Tacoma, WA. That's a very small set from a very small region if you're trying to make a conclusion about all gamers. (Also, I hear Seattle is a depressing city, but that could just be hearsay).

      2. They use BMI to claim if the subjects are overweight. BMI doesn't really work unless you're trying to identify obesity. It's not accurate in the 'overweight' range since it's a simple weight-to-height calculation and ignores muscle mass vs fat mass. Technically speaking, my BMI states that I'm overweight (6'1", 190lbs), but it ignores the fact I'm physically active in sports.
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Actually, the summary says the opposite... That certain people turned to gaming as a 'coping mechanism' to relieve their depression.

      The last bit at the end is confusing because it says 'on the flip side', but it's actually the same side. The coping mechanism is good for your mental health. Well duh! It wouldn't be a very good coping mechanism if it made you MORE depressed!

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      correlation != causation

      I didn't think the article said that gaming made someone depressed.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:12PM (#29120899) Homepage

      Games are pretty much the easiest way to be "successful". In FPS games you're Rambo, in RPGs you're a hero, in RTS/TBS a mastermind, take your pick. If you fail at life in general, you can always play games as long as you got ramen noodles and 15$/month for WoW. And the longer it's been since you've done something, the harder it gets. If you haven't exercised in a while and you're in bad shape, starting up is hell. So you keep getting fatter, you lose self-confidence and start retracting from social life or at least the real world part where people see you. Then that becomes a reason for not doing hygiene or decent clothes and it all keeps getting longer and longer from being successful. Or any one of a million other variations of coming into such an evil circle.

      It's exactly the same way in reverse. People with a good body will dress in "look at me" clothes. Or they'll exercise to fit the clothes, particularly for the summer season. They'll keep getting attention and positive feedback that keeps them self-confident and continue to enjoy social life and keep it up. Maybe those failing out should have gotten some more honest feedback to see the warning signs in time, but it's hard even with friends. Most of the time people are just allowed to fade out because drawing attention to it might just make it all more embarrassing and cause an even quicker withdrawal. I think many of the gaming addicts aren't that addicted to the game as such, but they've cut off every other bridge out.

  • Cue obligatory "Make Love, Not Warcraft" Southpark episode in 3..2..1...

    Shit, with stats like those, that Soutpark episode just went from Animated Comedy to PBS Documentary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:48AM (#29119633)

    35, Fat, and Bummed? Or something close?

    • by Manip (656104)

      That was my thought too...

      66% of 20+ Americans are overweight, 33% are obese (severely overweight).
      "Approximately 18.8 million Americans are suffering from depression at any given moment"

      So if you take a cross-section of the population the average might be fat and bummed.

      • by TJamieson (218336)

        Are there no healthy people anymore? Or are you saying 33% of the 66% overweight are obese?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tuidjy (321055)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rhys (96510)

      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.

  • I'm only 24! Way to offset the bell-curve :D

  • Not surprising (Score:2, Interesting)

    by teh.f4ll3n (1351611)
    Out of 100 depressed fat 35-year-old gamers polled 99 turned out to be depressed fat 35-year-old gamers. 1 turned 36 while being polled.
  • 2/3 (Score:2, Funny)

    by 93,000 (150453)

    I'm 35. I tend toward depression. But I'm one sexy bitch.

    My mom even says I'm the handsomest guy in school . . . err, work now, I guess.

    • I'm 35. I tend toward depression. But I'm one sexy bitch.

      My mom even says I'm the handsomest guy living in her basement

      That was almost too easy.

  • For your info I'm THIRTY-SIX.

  • Makes sense. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:54AM (#29119753) Homepage Journal

    In order to self-identify as a gamer, you've got to have a certain mindset to begin with. "I play video games, and that's the most important thing in my life". When you're a teenager that's fine, since most teens don't exactly have the resources to go out and have a real life, but when you're 35, you should be at the point where your other dreams are coming true.

    I play video games, a lot. I've spent hundreds of dollars on them this year and spent hundreds of hours in them. However, I don't self-identify as a gamer as such, because it's not the central tenet of my lifestyle, nor a major frame of reference for my personality.

    The article doesn't tell exactly how they differentiate the two. If it's by self-identification, the problem I've already mentioned crops up. If it's by number of hours spent, it's a poorly designed study to determine the effects of video games, because it's simply axiomatic that if you are more introverted, you'll spend more time doing activities alone.

    • Agree completely. And what about those of us who play games INSTEAD of watching the idiot box (TV). I think interactive online gaming is faaar more social than sitting staring at TV.
      • by Sj0 (472011)

        From a psychological sense, it could actually be that people watching TV consider themselves happier than people playing computer, because they don't have to think about it.

        Gamers are more accustomed to thinking while they play, unlike TV watchers who have everything handed to them in an easily digestible package. They think more, and rather than being more depressed because there's something wrong with them, they're more depressed because their brains are turned on and they've come to realise they have goo

    • Most of the Gamers I know are either

            in school/college (Less than 35, fit, healthy and have an active social life) - Play games when not studying or partying ...

      or

            Married (or as good as) about 35, slightly unfit, with as good a social life as you can have with kids - play games to wind down after work ...

      Neither seems to fit this profile ...?

    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:00PM (#29120727)

      In order to self-identify as a gamer, you've got to have a certain mindset to begin with. "I play video games, and that's the most important thing in my life".

      Negative.

      I self-identify as a gamer, but not because playing video games is the most important think in my life. In fact, video games are a fairly small portion of the gaming I do. I also play plenty of pen & paper RPGs, tabletop games, CCGs...

      I also self-identify as a reader - because I like reading, not because it is the most important thing in my life.

      I also self-identify as a computer geek or computer nerd - again, because that is a part of my life, not the most important thing.

      I could keep going, but there isn't much point. If I were to self-identify as only the thing that I feel is most important in my life, I would only self-identify as a husband. But that doesn't really tell you a whole heck of a lot about me, does it?

      When you're a teenager that's fine, since most teens don't exactly have the resources to go out and have a real life

      I have to disagree again here. Since when do resources dictate what's the most important thing in your life? Maybe your most common diversion... Most readily available entertainment... But most important thing?

      I'd suggest that many (most?) teenagers find their friendships more important than their video games. Or maybe they're preoccupied with learning to drive and getting a car. Or maybe they're looking for their first job. Maybe they just want to pass a class.

      Sure, lots of teens play lots of games. But I doubt if many of them would identify that as the most important thing in their lives.

      but when you're 35, you should be at the point where your other dreams are coming true.

      Maybe. Depending on what those dreams are. Depending on what life throws at you.

      I play video games, a lot. I've spent hundreds of dollars on them this year and spent hundreds of hours in them. However, I don't self-identify as a gamer as such, because it's not the central tenet of my lifestyle, nor a major frame of reference for my personality.

      No?

      Do you know who Gordon Freeman is? Is the cake a lie? Would you chuckle at a shirt that read "iddqd"? Do you know who Shodan is? Or Cortana? Do you recognize the Mario theme music? Or the Zelda got-a-cool-item sound?

      These are all references that non-gamers don't understand, and gamers do. They do influence your personality whether you like it or not.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:54AM (#29119757)

    Specifically, female video game players tended towards depression, while males tended towards large BMIs.

    Are the women depressed because their dating pool is made up of fat guys?

    Or do we eat because our women are so depressing and food is our only solace?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @10:54AM (#29119761) Journal
    *in a soft soothing mid-Western voice*

    Remember folks to pay a visit to Slashdot: where the gamers are above average [wikipedia.org], the readers are fat and depressed and the women are nonexistent.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

      I think this is the most telling part of the survey. Doesn't Seattle have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation?

      Of course the gamers are depressed, everyones depressed. Until this has a wider sample, I think this is bunk.

    • 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?

      Try to look at it in the context of other activities...

      Some folks have never picked up a novel and read for entertainment. The find the idea of doing such a thing completely alien. They can't imagine actually sitting down and reading a book for entertainment. These folks would not call themselves readers.

      Now, I don't read a whole lot these days. I don't have much time for it. But I've got some favorite books that I've read throughout the years, and I've got some more books that I'd like to read some da

  • by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:00AM (#29119843)
    Burned out, need a vacation? Fire up Flight Simulator and fly from SFO to Hawaii.

    Pissed off at the boss, need to vent? A bit of Gears of War will do the trick.

    Need some exercise to burn off the pounds? A late afternoon set or two of Vertua Tennis will keep you slim and trim, baby!

    Did someone cut you off on the commute home, Bunky? Time for some Need for Speed revenge, bitches!

    Wife not giving it up lately? Create a character in The Sims that digs that back hair, homey!

  • 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.
  • Anecdotal evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp (96830) * <sjc@nospAm.carpanet.net> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:03AM (#29119897) Homepage

    That this probably applies to movies, books, and several other ways that a person can blow off steam and escape from the day to day grind for a while without getting exercise.

    Shock! Awe!

    I thought I had seen obsessive escapist book reading before, then my wife got a kindle. Actually, I wonder if these addictions are not worst than many drugs. Afterall, reading is healthy and good, and nobody wants to bother someone reading a book. (nor do they usually want to be bothered)

    Though, once you have spent all your free time reading for a month to the exclusion of household chores and social interaction.... well I doubt its much better or worst if its a video game.

    -Steve

  • Or are researchers really skimping on data sets these days? 500ish people in one area? Seriously since when did that constitute a valid data set to base an entire population of 330m people on?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoralHazard (447833)

      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 valu

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lusiphur69 (455824)

        The sample set is exclusively 19-90 year olds living in the greater Seattle area.
        Do people younder than 19 not play video games? This was a very sloppy study, probably a small survey done over the phone or web, and no, 500 is not a large enough sample size to draw MEANINGFUL correlations.

        Unless they amend it to - Average Seattle ADULT gamer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Idiomatick (976696)
        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 givin
  • I win! I'm 30, overweight, and happy!
    Of course, managing my life actively- including minimizing WoW play time to not interfere with family life, work or home projects- is a big part of the equation.

    Gaming is a great distraction- a distraction from the things you know you need to do with yourself and your life. Manage your playtime accordingly.

    In the immortal words of IceT (?),
    You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • You know, social sciences are a great thing, you can find some very interesting data.

    However, I am increasingly sick of these kinds of studies that use a sample pool so small as to be statistically irrelevant. I realize it costs money to do bigger studies, but trumpeting this kind of tiny average as 'fact' goes beyond mere chutzpah to full on fucking annoying.

    Well since I cannot beat pop culture with mere logic, I might as well join them and open up Dr. Doom's Videogame Addiction Curative Haus. Forced to pl

  • Because a lot of them are actually somewhat based on reality...

    Asians are generally good at math because their culture values learning and route memorization.

    Europeans are kinda snobby because they are.

    Americans are fat and lazy because they are.

    Africans are good at sports because they are not fat and lazy.

    African-Americans are a mix of the above two groups.

    etc... etc...

    Short bald men are usually single, good looking men are usually not, the sky is blue etc. etc...

    • Europeans snobby? How can you say something like that? Do you even understand what a European is? Obviously not since you are probably living in America and you are fat and lazy...

      Yes I live in Europe, but grew up in Canada and the states? Does that make me fat, lazy, and snobby?

  • I think there is a feedback loop at work here. Games are created which appeal to a certain demographic, that group keeps buying the games, and so new games are designed to appeal to the same group. From the perspective of a game maker, this a safe approach, since creating new games is expensive and risky.

    The biggest thing I notice about games today is that they are time sinks. They have huge numbers of levels which require performing the same basic combat maneuvers over and over again. They have difficultie

    • "Who was time for this, and the desire to spend this much time? The lonely, the single, the depressed, the inactive."

      Please, speak for yourself. I have time to do as I wish, and I dont need anyone dictating to me how to spend said time. Further, there are plenty of 'lite' games you can play that require little to no effort and give you your little endocrine reward of 'completion' at the end.

      Further, the fact that you just swallow the assumptions of the study without question shows how succesful the pop-psyc

      • Of course you're free to spend time however you want. I was speaking in general terms, and also from personal experience. I don't know much about the reliability of the study, I just thought it was an interesting starting point for a discussion.

        Those "lite" games are little more than Flash games with shinier graphics. They also tend to be repetitive, and there is not much depth or story involved. I play them sometimes, but they're not really what I'm looking for.

        What I would like to see is something like a

  • Go to work and do some extra hours, so you can buy stuff you don't need.

    Gee, games are just to have some fun, at least I'm not doing drugs or beating up my girl.
  • Maybe I should read the article, but you can be a pound or two past your 'ideal weight' and you move into the overweight categories. Are they specifying a range outside of ideal, or just anything not 'ideal'. The US is overweight on average, so how would this be news that a sub-group of an overweight group is also overweight?
  • The article doesn't go into how the researchers coded gamers vs nongamers, it just says 'differentiated adult video-game players from nonplayers', which suggests a pretty hard distinction: Do you play video games AT ALL? If so, you're a gamer.

    Does the exact definition have serious implications on the quality of the results, though? Unless there are some really counter-intuitive confounding conditions at work, no.

    For example: What if, for some oddball reason, people who play an *occasional* video game (but n

  • Then I got divorced and got my life back.

  • Sucks to be you guys. I'm 34, within 10 lbs of my ideal weight, and reasonably happy considering the state of the world I live in. I'm in ur statistics skewing ur averages:P

  • ... I'm only 34!

  • by kuzb (724081)
    I'm shocked that the US is still using this antiquated and inaccurate measure.
  • This statistic is about right, however much we might not want to look at it. I'm 32, at least mildly overweight, and am slowly recovering from a 2.5 year addiction to World of Warcraft.

    World of Warcraft is my generation's real life answer to the Matrix. We sit in something close enough to a pod, stuffing ourselves with junk food while we attempt to distract ourselves from the misery of contemporary mainstream existence, yet it doesn't make us happy.

    The only real difference between WoW and the Matrix is th

  • by Gord.ca (236984) <ghpollock@@@stud ... ..uwaterloo...ca> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @11:48AM (#29120603)

    I guess most people didn't catch the significance of Andrews University...

    Two of the study's coauthours (Wendi Kannenberg, Gary L. Hopkins) are from Andrews University Institute for Prevention of Addictions [andrews.edu]. Andrews is a Christian university run by a denomination which doesn't accept evolution. I've spoken to a prof from their biology department, apparently it's a bastion of the Intelligent Design movement. (Here's a book [amazon.com] published by Andrews University Press).

    I'm not saying that proponents of intelligent design and those around them are incapable of doing serious scientific research. I'm thinking this might partially explain what feels like an anti-gamer bias.

    The joys of crowdsourcing...

  • I am 33.
  • Angle (Score:3, Funny)

    by Joebert (946227) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:23PM (#29121125) Homepage
    Depressed gamer chicks are hot.
  • Taggers fail it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:23PM (#29122281)
    I'm unsure if the majority of the people who tag stories just don't know what "correlation does not imply causation" actually means, or if this is just another case of mass not RTFAing.

    "Correlation does not imply causation" means that if A correlates to B it does not mean that A causes B. But if it's a statistically strong correlation in a well designed experiment then _something_ is causing the relationship. Perhaps A is causing B, perhaps B is causing A, or perhaps some third factor is causing A and B to show up together.

    This study, like many others that have been slandered with the tag, seems to be pretty careful about its terminology. The only reference to a possible causation is actually of the reverse, "One interpretation of the findings, researchers said, is that among women, video-game playing 'may be a form of "digital self-medication."'"

    In another place they state "While the study helps 'illuminate the health consequences of video-game playing,' it is not conclusive, its researchers say, but rather serves to 'reveal important patterns in health-related correlates of video-game playing and highlights avenues for future research.'"

    So not only do they state that it's a statistical correlation and not conclusive proof of causation, they also give specific examples to show that they're considering other possible relationships besides A causing B. Is the "corellationisnotcausation" crowd just not going to be happy until scientists stop doing research altogether?

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