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Survey: Half of Americans play games, but only 10 percent say they're gamers

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The Pew Research Center conducted a random, telephone-based survey of 2,001 American adults in order to gauge public perception about video games. Among the study's findings are that while half of American adults play games, only 10 percent consider themselves to be "gamers." In addition, this gamer minority appears to have starkly different views on gaming's place in society.

While roughly half of all American adults play games (50 percent of men, and 48 percent women) the Pew study finds that 60 percent of those surveyed believe that most people who play games are men, "including 57 percent of women who themselves play video games."

Pew found that men (15 percent) were more than twice as likely as women (6 percent) to refer to themselves as gamers. In the 18 to 29-year-old demographic, 33 percent of men self-identified as gamers while only 9 percent of women did. On the whole, Pew found that gamers were much more likely to disagree with negative portrayals of video games, including the following results:

  • 35 percent of those who play video games (and 53 percent of those who identify as gamers) think most games are not a waste of time, compared with just 13 percent of those who do not play video games.
  • 33 percent of those who play video games (and 46 percent of self-described gamers) do not think minorities are portrayed poorly in most games; 9 percent of game players (and 10 percent of gamers) think most games do portray minorities poorly; and 61 percent of those who do not play video games are unsure what to think on this issue.
  • 26 percent of those who play video games (and 35 percent of self-identified gamers) do not think women are portrayed poorly in most games; 16 percent of game players (and 24 percent of self-identified gamers) think most games do portray women poorly; and 55 percent of those who do not play video games are unsure what to think on this topic.

While Pew says a "notable portion" of the American population seems to see a link between violence in video games and violence in society, overall Pew concludes that "public attitudes towards games — and the people who play them — are complex and often uncertain."

The survey, which was conducted in June and July of this year, relied on a randomly dialed sample of landline and mobile telephone numbers and included both English and Spanish speakers. The full results are available online.