Tech Tuesday: The Biggest Problem With Online Gaming? Us.

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They say numbers don’t lie. And if that’s true, then the online gaming world may have a problem on its hands, especially in light of a new study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Before you throw up your hands and digitally turn away grumbling about studies, let me pile on a whole bunch of numbers and stats that might be of interest to you. (That’s the kind of person I am.) When stitched together, form an interesting picture.

For example, according to the Entertainment Software Association, 65% of American adults play games. The game-friendly ESA actually likes to downplay the fact that a huge number of teens and kids play them, too. But they do admit that more than 75% of American households have at least one game player in the fold. Oh, and the ESA also notes that the male/female split on gamers is about 54% male to 46% female, just in case you didn’t think the ladies had any interest.

If those are our base numbers, what does the internet tell us about this community of gamers? Hold on to your hat and we’ll zip through a few important stats.

The State of Online Gaming 2018 market research report says that:

  • People who play video games spend an average of nearly six hours each week playing. Gamers between the ages of 18-25 spend the most time, at more than seven hours each week.
  • Millennial gamers spend more time watching other people play video games than they spend watching traditional sports on TV.
  • More than 27% of gamers admit to playing video games at work at least once a month.
  • Nearly one third, 32%, would quit their job if they could support themselves as professional video gamers.

There’s probably any number of teens thinking about that prospect of professional gaming, too. In fact, some youthful e-sport players are giving that dream a shot. Of course, all of that gaming is online gaming and that leads me to another stat:

A study by a gaming market research firm called the NPD Group proclaimed that 72% of U.S. respondents prefer to game online, up from 67% last year.

So, what do all those various percentages suggest? Well, they say nearly everybody in your neighborhood (and probably at least one person in your household) is playing some kind of game nearly every day. And most of those button-crunching folks are jumping online to play their Fortnite or League of Legends of choice.

Now let’s go back to that ADL study. It states that nearly three quarters of all gamers online have suffered from various forms of toxic behavior. That behavior ranges from name calling to sexual harassment to physical threats to online stalking. In fact, in some cases the harassment went so far as something called “doxing,” where some tech-savvy sort searches for and exposes private information about an online individual who has caught his or her hateful gaze.

Online gaming does indeed have a big problem: The very nature of people themselves.

What’s to be done? Well, that’s the rub. It’s not an easy thing to monitor or control something as vast and growing as online gaming. Some have been using this ADL data to call for support for their particular interest groups or to push for governmental oversight and intervention on various game sites. And change may come.

But parents can use this information now to help decide if and when their young family members should be gaming online. And if nothing else, it’s an encouragement to keep tabs on exactly what kind of, uh, bombs might be dropping on their kids’ gaming battlefield.