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MIT survey examines habits, passion of sports gamers

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study concerning players of sports video games includes few surprises, but as one of the first surveys of its kind, it offers opportunities for further research on its subjects, reports Kotaku.

The three-person research team behind "Who are sports gamers? A large scale study of sports video game players," which was published in the most recent issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, was led by Abe Stein, a graduate student and audio director at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab with experience working on games such as Fire Hose Games' Slam Bolt Scrappers.

The study was based on responses from 1,718 players of sports games who were at least 18 years old when surveyed in early 2011. Over 98 percent of them were male, with a plurality of the group falling into the 18-to-24 age bracket. Here are some other meaningful statistics:

  • favorite genres besides sports: shooters (68.3 percent), action (59.4 percent), action RPGs (50.1 percent)
  • least favorite genre: MMOs (16.4 percent)
  • did not play Facebook games: almost 82 percent
  • platform (with overlap): 60.3 percent on PlayStation 3, 60 percent on Xbox 360, 58 percent on PC

Stein told Kotaku that his team was particularly surprised by the number, length and specificity of responses to the question asking people to relate a story about a meaningful experience they had in a sports game. More than half the respondents answered, with numerous "very private and emotional stories." He also said that further study on "how these players relate their passion for video games to their sports fandom in general" is warranted by the results of the survey.

The full text of the study is available to view and download for a $25 fee.

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