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During Covid we turned to video games to stay entertained - and connected

Peter Griffin, Editor. 26 October 2021, 12:22 pm

Video games constituted the second more popular medium behind streaming video during the pandemic, according to new research from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association.

The study, which surveyed 2,270 New Zealanders across 800 households, found that 3.7 million of us, or 73% of the population, played video games for an average of 81 minutes per day through 2020-21, when lockdowns and travel restrictions saw us spending more time at home.

Children play for longer - 99 minutes per day, and the average age of a gamer is higher than you might think - at 35 years. 

Mobile gaming was the most popular category, followed by PC gaming and console games.

Screenshot 2021-10-26 at 9.09.59 AM.png

Source: IGEA Digital New Zealand 2022

The IGEA research, which is undertaken every two years, also suggests that we used games to stay connected to each other during the pandemic, with 75% of survey respondents reporting that they played games socially with people online or at home.

"Early critics of video games dismissed them as solo and lonely pursuits," the researchers note.

But video games these days were highly connected, with real-time gameplay involving groups of people and in-game communications.

"The great benefit of all this is that, in a global pandemic, we can play together and connect with one another, even while physically distancing," the researchers added.

Overall, gaming was up around 6% during the pandemic, a similar level as recorded over the last 12 years, a period in which video gaming penetration has remained high across New Zealand households.

Across age groups, the main reason cited for playing games was "having fun", though among older gamers in the 65+ age group, "keeping the mind active" was the primary motivation.

Screenshot 2021-10-26 at 11.54.41 AM.png

Source: IGEA Digital New Zealand 2022

Three-quarters of parents played video games with their kids, according to the survey and didn't rank video games highly when it came to their concern over different types of media.

"When asked how concerned they are with media content on different media platforms, parents collectively place the internet and social media platforms at the top of the list," the researchers noted.

"Video games are in the mix, ranked seventh in the list of 11 platform channels with the

traditional media of TV and movies now relegated to near the bottom of the list. The gameplay sharing platform, Twitch presents the least concern for parents."

The full IGEA survey results are available here.


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