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Average Gamer Is 35, Fat and Bummed

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the fun-also-causes-cancer dept.

Medicine 439

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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Hmm... (4, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119543)

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

Re:Hmm... (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119671)

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.

Coping with depression (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Hmm... (2, Interesting)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119795)

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

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

I'll take "Bums" for $1000. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119549)


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!

My take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119559)

I agree with the comments.

Woohoo (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119597)

I'm under average!

Re:Woohoo (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120241)

I'm under average!

"Under average"?! That's unpossible!!

Re:Woohoo (5, Funny)

Antho (982028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120431)

34, fat and bummed?

Video games as coping mechanism (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Video games as coping mechanism (2, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120265)

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 to experience everything in that game. That's probably the biggest difference between WoW (and other MMORPGs) and the other games that AC experienced. It's something that I find dangerous, and very very compelling. I'm pretty sure that I'll be entertained as long as Blizzard keeps the service running. For me, it's not about depression, or isolation (although the game may contribute to the latter), it's about poking around and finding something that keeps my attention.

I also enjoy cooperative play. It's one of my favorite curiosities. I find it fun to see how groups of relative strangers will cooperate, form large groups to accomplish complex tasks, and then go off to repeat the process in a matter of mere minutes. Well... That and I find it a lot of fun to tank.

Re:Video games as coping mechanism (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120447)

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... (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120533)

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?

Re:Video games as coping mechanism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120545)

Actually, I think it's closer to a gambling addiction. Slot machines use operant conditioning to get people hooked. You put a quarter in, you win two, you put three in, win nothing, then another quarter and win a dollar...etc. except that the net result leaves most people poorer than they started. This unpredictable schedule of reinforcement is called a variable ratio and is the most effective way to reinforce a behavior. If you never know when exactly the prize will come, you're much more likely to keep repeating the action that may bring the prize. In MMO games the reinforcers can be rare drops or experience (since there are often unpredictable set-backs that leave you waiting for a full group, dying and having to work your way back to what you had, etc.).

So that kind of reinforcement schedule will get anyone hooked, when you throw in the real world reinforcement of allowing a person to avoid dealing with reality, you've got a deadly combo.

What broke me of my MMOdiction was the realization that the gains I was making in the game could be boiled down to increasing numbers and that if I wanted to make numbers bigger, I could do it much easier and quicker by just playing with a calculator. That meaning shift took away all the reinforcement value of those in-game rewards, which drastically weakened the hold that the games had over me (in my case, Everquest). Still, I know now to avoid that type of game like the plague.

So... (1)

Tofuik (1145165) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119601)

We are fat and depressed but we have amazing mental health. Sounds fine to me.

That's odd - I think games are boring (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119607)

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:That's odd - I think games are boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119647)

They get depressed because they didn't win that epic sword out of Ulduar for the 20th time.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (3, Interesting)

DoubleParadoxx (928992) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119765)

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)

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120163)

depressionquit?

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119837)

So you have all those things as a way to pass the time, but you don't see why you might be depressed or lonely. What's the idea of passing the time, are you waiting to die?

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119889)

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 spend so much time with the TV or the computer? Is it related to mood? For many the answer is yes.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (3, Interesting)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119901)

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?

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (1)

Jestrzcap (46989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120225)

Sounds about right to me.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (3, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:That's odd - I think games are boring (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120095)

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," according to them.

Not everyone does get addicted, but certainly many do.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (5, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (4, Interesting)

The Moof (859402) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (1)

dmdavis (949140) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120305)

Why gaming would make someone depressed makes zero sense to me

correlation != causation

Re:That's odd - I think games are boring (1)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120347)

Why gaming would make someone depressed makes zero sense to me.

(me thinks) 30 seconds left in the match...only one guy left...

speakers roar with those fatal words "HEADSHOT!!!"

F@#k!!! F@#k!!! Stupid game, this mouse is trash... crappy card, the frame rates keep dropping... man, I wish I had a better job, then I could buy something sweet... man, I wish I didn't live in this basement.

Redundent (-1, Redundant)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119615)

An article yesterday was posted on pretty much the same thing. It involved the exact same study. Glad to know we post the same article on consecutive days. Yes I know I will get a Troll tag for this.

Re:Redundent (0, Offtopic)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119659)

It's spelled Redundant*

Just because you are wrong and I called you out on it doesn't mean I am a Troll.

Re:Redundent (0, Offtopic)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119709)

Thanks for being my personal spell check! 8)

Re:Redundant (0, Offtopic)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119775)

Thanks for being my personal spell check! 8)

Given the context of the article you probably just gave meaning to his otherwise depressing life. Good on you!

Re:Redundent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120149)

Happy to oblige. Was wondering what to do with my last modpoint :)

Oblig... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119617)

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.

Isn't the average US citizen... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119633)

35, Fat, and Bummed? Or something close?

Re:Isn't the average US citizen... (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119815)

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.

Re:Isn't the average US citizen... (1)

TJamieson (218336) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120423)

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

Re:Isn't the average US citizen... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119931)

No, they're also wankers, tossers, and shites, all rolled up into one package we like to call Republicrats.

Re:Isn't the average US citizen... (2, Informative)

Rhys (96510) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120519)

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.

wohoo! (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119639)

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

Not surprising (2, Interesting)

teh.f4ll3n (1351611) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119695)

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.

HAH! Shows what they know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119697)

I'm 34!

Re:HAH! Shows what they know. (1)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120317)

You're not -old-!
      Well I can't just call you Anonymous Coward...

2/3 (1, Funny)

93,000 (150453) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119699)

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.

Dumbass Researchers (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119703)

For your info I'm THIRTY-SIX.

Re:Dumbass Researchers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119869)

I'm 38 dammit, and who the hell told you you could use my silhouette for the picture?

Re:Dumbass Researchers (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120303)

I'm 38 dammit, and who the hell told you you could use my silhouette for the picture?

Shouldn't you be stealing picnic baskets, Gabe Newell? [google.com]

emotional intelligence of a 12 year old (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119735)

"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"...and tends to troll anonymously the various forums where they can feel superior to young adults, children, and the mentally handicapped.

Some over-sensitive mod is gonna mod this flamebait or troll, when the reality is, I'm meta-trolling the article. Get it? No? Shit, me neither. Hand me that controller, will you?

Average Diet Soda Drinker Is 35, Fat and Bummed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119739)

Obviously diet soda causes obesity and depression. We must ban it immediately!

This makes me sad and hungry :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119749)

Awe, man. My level 80 paladin is broken down into tears right now. He is my best friend, so this article hurts his feelings. When he gets sad, I get sad. I am going to login to WoW and cry together with my Paladin friend over an extra large pizza.

Makes sense. (2, Insightful)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119753)

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.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120189)

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.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120363)

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 good reason to be depressed.

It's rather like the bible. Adam and Eve were thrown from paradise because they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Ignorance is bliss. Does that mean people ought to strive to ignorance?

Chicken, Egg (5, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Chicken, Egg (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120355)

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

"At night, a bachelor opens the refrigerator, looks at what's inside, shakes his head, and then goes to bed."

"At night, a married man goes to the bedroom, looks at what's in the bed, shakes his head, and then goes to the refrigerator."

Garrison Keiller on Slashdot (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119761)

*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.

and the Slashdot consensus? (1)

DrHex (142347) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119763)

Like Duh!!

Way to go with creating another generalization in the mass media.

And mass media wonders why newspapers are failing and considered obsolete?

That means something else in the UK... (1)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119791)

I'm from the UK you insensitive clod!

Only the age is surprising (5, Informative)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119797)

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.

Oh great... (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119831)

This is gonna do wonder's for the self esteem of everyone who fits into this category... er... I'm gonna go eat some ice cream and play some WoW... at least my toon is hot...

Geek Therapy! (3, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Forgot to mention.... (3, Informative)

Sterrance (1257342) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

You think this is bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119871)

Wait till they do a study of the average GNU/Linux user.

Anecdotal evidence (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119897)

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

Re:Anecdotal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119935)

it ken b divorce tiem naow?

Re:Anecdotal evidence (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120247)

One word: Rationalization [wikipedia.org]

Look it up

 

Re:Anecdotal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120299)

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)

no, but your grammar is WORST than many people...

Something smells funny... (1)

obenchainr (817684) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119911)

... and I don't mean the gamers.

I know I live in Southern California and, thus, the demographic is slightly skewed, but I'm having trouble thinking of *any* gamer I know IRL who is obese or depressed; yes, most are probably at the higher end of "average", but they're not obese.

Also the paragraph:

Both male and female video game players spend more time than nonplayers seeking friendship and support on the Internet, the study found, "a finding consistent with prior research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games."

Well, yes. Soemone who spends time playing games is going to seek out other people who spend time playing games; the most logical place to do so is in the game. I bet if you studied sports enthusiasts, you'd find they sacrifice non-sports-related social activities to meet people who play and/or talk about sports. Whether it takes place in person or digitally is really secondary. In the days when arcades were everywhere, you had most of these gamers meeting up in the "real-world" there; it's simply that, now, we do most of our gaming at home instead of in arcades. The method of communication is simply less important than the target or subject.

The whole thing sounds a little odd, though that could just be the reporter's summary and not the actual data.

Re:Something smells funny... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120517)

...I'm having trouble thinking of *any* gamer I know IRL who is obese or depressed; yes, most are probably at the higher end of "average", but they're not obese...

Obese according to the BMI != Obese in normal English

The BMI is a joke that is used by doctors/health industry/reporters to get people to exercise more/eat less/live healthier/feel worse about themselves. Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he won Mr. Olympia in 1970 [wikipedia.org] was "Obese" according to the BMI [wikipedia.org] . I'm willing to bet a lot of people you would describe as plump, a little heavy, or heavy, would actually come in as Obese according the Almighty BMI.

Is it me? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119945)

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:Is it me? (2, Informative)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120539)

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 values, to see how big of a sample you need if you want to extrapolate to a population of 300,000,000:

  * http://www.surveysystem.com/sample-size-formula.htm [surveysystem.com]

(PROTIP: It's smaller than you think.)

Wikipedia has an explanation of what/how/why, but I'll warn you ahead of time, unless you already took a stats class and just need a refresher, you won't understand (no disrespect!):

  * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sample_size#Estimating_proportions [wikipedia.org]

For those too lazy to FTFL (no disrespect!), it takes somewhere around 1,000-2,000 sample members, if you want to get a 95% confidence level and a confidence interval of 5%, given a p/q split of ~ .5/.5. So assuming these researchers did their math correctly when they formally stated the results of their significance tests.

(NOTE: I'm NOT saying the study is valid--that's a whole 'nother Oprah. I'm just making a general statement about how big of a sample size a study needs to obtain a certain amount of probabalistic reliability.)

Average gamer OVER 19, is 35. (1)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29119969)

Nice headline. The MS in MSNBC is not for Math Skills.
From TFA:

analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90,

And later on, points out that this is merely correlation, AKA scientific fact to a journalist.

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."

Let me get this straight (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29119989)

Sumo wrestlers are video game addicts?

Distraction kills the desire for a better life. (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120023)

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.

Re:Distraction kills the desire for a better life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120371)

Totally, reminds me of the South Park pot episode. To paraphrase the moral:

"Smoking pot is something people do when they're bored. And it's when you're bored that you should be exploring and learning new things. If you smoke pot all the time, you'll grow up one day and realize you're just not good at anything."

I think you could say the same for gaming or any addiction really.

Correction : Average of 552 adults 19-90 (1)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120075)

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 play the Atari 2600 version of ET until eyes bleed, while fed tofu and listening to a mix of Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls.

Stereotypes Exist for a reason.... (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120079)

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...

Feedback Loop (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120087)

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 difficulties set very high which necessitate much practice and many retries to succeed. Some games provide hundreds of secret objects to seek out. Some games allow players to level up as a way of rewarding those who play for dozens and dozens of hours.

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

I want to play games which take about 3 to 10 hours to complete, and which are rewarding, entertaining, surprising, and non-repetitive through the entire experience. I hope that such games become common some day. Then gaming could really be for everyone.

Re:Feedback Loop (1)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120155)

"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-psychiatry brigade has been in convincing us that video games are somehow deviant or lead to deviant lifestyles.

Its flat-out nonsense.

Re:Feedback Loop (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120483)

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 cross between a game and a movie. I want depth and story integrated into the game experience. I want every challenge I face within the game to have been carefully chosen because it adds to the experience, just like a good director carefully chooses each shot and cuts out those which don't add to a movie.

I don't really see anything like this available. When a game does include a good story, it also includes far too much repetitive gameplay.

Results vary in different countries (1)

superphysics (1619033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120107)

In my country, most people that age (who own a computer) don't even bother to use computers until absolutely necessary. Gaming is completely out of question!

Sure, blame the games (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120115)

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.

Obligatory Animal House quote... (1)

AustinSlacker (728596) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120119)

Fat, depressed, and 35 is no way to go through life, son.

Define Overweight (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120131)

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?

Re:Define Overweight (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120507)

They compared the average BMI of people in each group, the average BMI of the gamer group is higher than the average BMI of the non-gamer group.

(The actual article is linked in an above post:

http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1341207&cid=29119867 [slashdot.org]

Here is the link, in the spirit of laziness:

http://www.ajpm-online.net/webfiles/images/journals/amepre/AMEPRE_2561.pdf [ajpm-online.net]

)

It's a small study, but I would imagine the result is interesting enough to justify a larger study (but I'm not a social scientist).

This is impossible! (1)

billlava (1270394) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120181)

I've been a gamer for years, and I've never been 35 or overweight. You'd think sooner or later the law of averages would catch up to me if this were true, therefore it is false. I am convinced that the average gamer is a 23-year old skinny university student.

Re:This is impossible! (1)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120541)

You wait until you turn 35. You will balloon up and not be as happy. Your clock is ticking.

How do they define a "gamer"? (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120239)

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 not more, and so could be coded either way, depending on your exact definition of "gamer") have a high rate psychological problems compared to the rest of the population? If that sort of people made up a large proportion of your sample size, and/or if their psych problems were severe enough, then the exact definition of "gamer" would matter a hell of a lot. Depending on precisely where you drew the line in your study, you might see no correlation, or a positive correlation, or a negative correlation.

Unfortunately, the study's methodology doesn't allow us to determine the likelihood of such a situation, so you can't say much. I would have suggested coding each participant's "gamer-ness" as a discrete ordinal variable with more than 2 possible values, as in "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a gamer is this person?" Or, you could use the number of hours played, per week. Either way, you can use a bootstrap-like technique, calculating T statistics with various monotonically incrementing values of your "gamer-ness" variable, and verifying that the T values do increment monotonically (or close to it) along with "gamer-ness".

But these changes would require a larger sample size, so if you can't draw a bigger crowd (budget, time, opportunity), so it's a trade off.

Take Offense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120263)

I am 34, have a 6 pack and am happy for the most part! Although I am not a people person much so playing games is fun to do.

I Used To Be A Gamer (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120335)

Then I got divorced and got my life back.

Finally! (1)

alsdomain (1564433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120339)

I'm finally above average at something! Suck it, hat.... Ah, fuck.

From TFA.. (1)

nitroscen (811508) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120341)

"...analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90, according to the study.." Yes- I'm sure this is enough data. 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area that were willing to participate in the study is all you need to prove your hypothesis! Seriously- I read this on MSNBC yesterday and was finally fed up enough to remove MSNBC from my RSS reader. This crap is meaningless.

Excuse me, but doesnt that define americans ? (0, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120389)

in general ? obesity, depression (prozac and whatnot), and being broke ?

i love how stuff that is in america gets passed as encompassing entire world. here, an american medicine journal, does a research, then claims that all gamers are fat, broke, depressed etc.

well im in turkey. im a gamer. im not fat, im not depressed, im not broke. and rarely do i see anyone in my gaming circle (and that encompasses a history of 1982-2009) fat and depressed either. that is despite i have founded and run or joined numerous guilds with 20-80 people. neither there is a noticeable portion in my european gaming friends circle that are fat and depressed.

everyone can be broke.

stop passing bullshit happening america as truth. if american medical profession had any respectability, the healthcare system wouldnt be such a mess in the first place. if companies run healtchare, doctors man the ranks.

Ha! I'm only 34! (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120411)

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

Gamer Shmamer (1)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120455)

What about the average Harry Potter fan?

Shows what they know... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120515)

... I'm only 34!

tilpa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29120543)

Checking the sources...

At MSNBC, (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32463904/ns/technology_and_science-games/)
  we have "he subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90, according to the study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine."
Checking that Journal (http://www.ajpm-online.net/), it right now says that current issue is for September 2009.

Or this new should be published one year ago, or the MSNBC writer had access to the Journal's internals. Or this post is a bit fake.
Anyways, nobody check the sources anymore. What the heck.

BMI? (1)

kuzb (724081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120549)

I'm shocked that the US is still using this antiquated and inaccurate measure.
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