Let’s be honest for a moment. According to stereotypes, we gamers are expected to be overweight, obnoxious and depressed. Of course, stereotypes are there for a reason, but I feel as though this is one that needs a little revision. As a student of Game Design, and a hardcore gamer my entire life, I have found over the last 3 years that the average gamer is in the same shape, if not better shape than the average American. After a few hours of searching the web, and a few psychology text books, it seems as though the professionals are split on whether or not we are collectively unhealthy.
So, I’m going to list a couple of different studies down here, and let you, the reader, decide what to make of it. Please leave your thoughts and feelings on this topic if you have anything to contribute to the idea.
A study of over 4000 youths by the department of psychiatric health determined that adolescent males who are avid gamers, are less likely to pick up smoking, and that aside from a few problem gamers'(just under 5 %) most showed no signs of negative health side effects, mentally or physically. Depression, violence, and drug use were only seen prominently in the small percentage of problem gamers mentioned above. One interesting note, was that while males didn’t have a big difference between gamers and non-gamers, girls who game were found more likely to get into fights, or carry weapons to school.
You can read the Original Study, here.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The purpose of this study, from my reading, was based more on the academic benefits of gaming in young children, namely pre-adolescents. The idea behind this, was that overall poor physical health was often tied in with poor academic performance. The researcher’s seem to be very enthusiastic on using video games as a new educational medium. The research showed that children who game are far more capable with thinking ‘out of the box’, and have overall better academic talents.
You can read the original presentation, here.
Dmitri Williams, School of Education UNSC
This study was a pretty hefty one, so I’ll try to sum it up as best I can. This study was very impressive if I say so myself, as it measured both the physical and mental health of its subjects. The study used EverQuest 2 players for a control group.
It was found that physically, EverQuest 2 players had a Body Mass Index(BMI) of 25.19. That reading, sticks them at slightly overweight (The mark is at 25.) Don’t get discouraged! The average American adult was sitting pretty at a BMI of 28.
Unfortunately, this study’s mental results showed a higher percentage of substance abuse, and depression than the average American.
You can read the original study, here.
As you can see, the research is wide and varied… However there does seem to be an arising consensus that gamers are no longer ‘Overweight, Obnoxious, and Depressive’.
I’m no expert on the subject, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is indeed an interesting topic to think on. So, you the good reader, what’s your take on this? I look forward to your responses.
– Travis W. Thompkins.