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Interesting facts about the digital games habits of ordinary Australians.

A recent study Digital Australia 2018 by Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) revealed that Australians of all ages are playing video games – in fact, 67% of us play video games, with an average playing time of 89 minutes per day.

The number of households with games devices has increased from 76% in 2005 to 97% in 2015, and over 79% of Australian households have more than one game device. Currently, virtual reality (VR) headsets are owned by 16% of households.

The reasons Australians cite for choosing to play games range from ‘passing the time’ (a more common response in younger adults) through to ‘de-stressing and keeping the mind active’ (a more common response in in older adults). And many of us like to play video games together.

“[Children] can learn different bits of history, different bits of strategy, they can learn a lot about interacting with other people. It is very funny listening to them playing games because they giggle, they work together . . .” Family Case Study, Digital Australia 2016

Alison York, Research Director for Nickelodeon, has noted that parents today have grown up playing games, and are passing on that passion to their children.

This sentiment is echoed in the findings of the Digital Australia 2018 study and similar UK studies which found that more than 60% of parents play video games with their children in the same room, and that 44% of them play online games with their kids.

Parent, gameplayer and President of local indie games development company Hipster Whale, Clara Reeves says “Most people in our society interact with games now and I play a lot of games with my kids. They love it and, as a parent, I think it’s a good idea to play with them, to make sure you’re comfortable with the content,” she said.

The report also confirmed that women make up almost half of our game playing population (46%), of which the average age is 34-years-old. These statistics fly in the face of long-held assumptions – that video games are the folly of teenage boys.

In Australia, the sports game genre is still much loved, with IGEA’s online weekly games chart highlighting that our ‘#IRL’ (in real life) interest in ball games translates into digital games. Both FIFA and NBA games currently ranking as top-sellers.

But not all high-ranking games revolve around sport or shooting competitions. On IGEA’s New Zealand chart, Minecraft is ranked eighth.

Minecraft, a game where you “mine and craft” block shapes to create and explore worlds, is also wildly popular in Australia (it was our most-used internet search term in 2013) and, today, it is being used by a growing cohort of educators to teach game development skills to students.

The digital revolution has changed our workforce exponentially – and, as such, software and applications programmers have been identified as one of our top three growth industries by 2025, according to the Federal Government’s 2013 Future Focus Report. Their more recent 2016 report again highlights that there will be an increase demand for people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge in future.

Today, the global video game industry is estimated to be worth A$100 billion and the Australian industry is pushing A$3 billion.

It’s clear that our appetite for living, learning and socialising with digital game technologies has well and truly come of age, just as “traditional” educational and entertainment mediums – books, radio, film and television – have before it.

To learn more about the way ‘we game’ check out Melbourne International Games Week 2017, running 22–29 October 2017 in venues across Melbourne. #MIGW17 showcases a range of games, games theory and industry talks produced for kids and adults alike. See the #MIGW17 program for more details.