According to the Digital New Zealand Report 2016 launched on 9 September 2015 by IGEA the proportion of the older Kiwi population that plays video games has increased in the past two years. Two fifths (43 per cent) of New Zealanders aged 65 and over now play video games, compared to only 32 per cent in 2013. The average age of the New Zealand gamer is 34 years old, up from 33 in the previous report.
Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report, said that video and computer games are being recognised for their effects on positive ageing, which explains why more mature Kiwis are jumping on the bandwagon. “The use of games-based technology is increasingly finding its way into physical and mental health applications. I continue to marvel at the growing adoption of video games beyond just entertainment,” says Professor Brand.
The report finds that 84 per cent of adults say playing games improve thinking skills, 70 per cent agree video games increase mental stimulation, 76 per cent find video games help improve coordination and dexterity and 47 per cent state video games help fight dementia. Those over the age of 50 make up the fastest growing segment of the population new to games, accounting for 47 per cent. Brand said “The significant growth spurt in this segment of the population means that New Zealanders are increasingly using games as a preventive measure to healthy ageing and the benefits are undeniable”.
Another emerging trend identified by this year’s report is around watching video games as a form of entertainment. Just like people watch movies, TV shows and documentaries, they are now watching other people play video games. This trend is not limited to eSports as nowadays, games enthusiasts, including children, are interested in watching and learning from ‘professional’ players.
One in two (48 per cent) Kiwi players watch gameplay videos online and 15 per cent have created walkthroughs to share with others.
“What this means is that video games have become a mainstream activity in New Zealand, and they are a game-changer in the way New Zealanders consume digital and interactive media. Two thirds (67 per cent) of the population play, and video game devices are present in 98 per cent of New Zealand family homes,” adds Professor Brand
The digital games industry in New Zealand has grown by 18 per cent since 2013 accounting for $347 million. Digital sales sky rocketed by 34 per cent while traditional retail sales dropped by two per cent. According to the NZGDA, there are now 568 full-time game jobs including 134 added in FY2015. Revenues to NZ businesses topped $78 million.
Other key findings of the Digital New Zealand Report 2016 include:
- Video games are a normal part of media use – the daily average time spent playing video games is 88 minutes. Ten minutes, three times a day is typical for casual game play, with one hour daily typical for in-depth game play
- Games are not only enjoyed by kids and teenagers –78 per cent of the game playing population is aged 18 years or older
- It’s not a boy thing – Nearly half (48 per cent) of the game population is female
- It’s a family and social thing –79 per cent of playing parents play with their children, and 26 per cent of adult players play online games with partners.
- Parents usually monitor children’s use – Two thirds (65 per cent) of adults are ‘always present’ to purchase games for children, and half (52 per cent) are familiar with parental controls on game systems
- The multiple-screen household is the new norm – 83 per cent of New Zealand households have three or more screens in their homes – 49 per cent have five or more screens.
- Video games beyond entertainment –23 per cent of Kiwi adults have used video games at work for training purposes, and 38 per cent of parents say their children have used video games for school curriculum
Ron Curry, CEO of Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), said, “This year’s report reinforces the breadth and depth of New Zealand’s gaming community. When we conducted the first report in 2010, video games were still seen as just an entertainment medium aimed at the younger children. Today, the profile of the typical New Zealand gamer is an adult of 34 years old and the reasons for playing video games are no longer one-dimensional.
We are witnessing significant changes in the realm of digital interactive entertainment where games have become an amazing medium to supplement healthy aging and reinvigorate the way we engage with digital media,” said Curry.
To download a copy of the report, please click here
To download the Key Findings, please click here
To watch the video series, please click here
IGEA is an independent industry association representing Australian and New Zealand companies in the computer and video game industry. Its members publish, market and distribute interactive games and entertainment content. IGEA is administered by a Board of Directors compromising senior executives from interactive games and entertainment companies and supported by the CEO, Ron Curry.