Latest Digital Australia report explores the progress and purpose of games

Written by techgoth

The Digital Australia report is a mainstay of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) since it published its first report in 2005. In partnership with Bond University, the IGEA provides detailed survey-based research into how Australians consume video game content, and how that content affects their lives.

The 2018 Digital Australia report (DA18) was released recently, trumpeted by a presentation roadshow held in many major Australian cities. Lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey E. Brand of Bond University gave a knowledgeable and far more energetic presentation than one might expect—given it was fundamentally a bunch of graphs and statistics—running through the four major DA18 themes: Function, Motive, Intention, and Advantage.

A large percentage of the presentation was dedicated to the theme of Function, or how Australians play games over the course of their lifetimes. It discussed the question of whether Australians believe current broadband service offerings meet the needs of the game-playing community, claims that 97% of homes that contain children also contain video games, and showed that Australians spend on average 89 minutes per day playing games.

Interestingly, this year a new graph in the report highlighted the fact that women over the age of 65 spend considerably more time per day playing games than men of the same age. Both age groups show a similar preference for in-depth forms of gameplay over casual, which seemed to surprise much presentation’s audience, with eyebrows raised and quiet “huh!” sounds ringing out.

The Motive portion of the proceedings discussed why people play games, and took pains to ensure that games for change was a topic of heavy discussion. In fact, the report showed the long-time leading reasons respondents give for play have dropped significantly in popularity. “Have Fun,” and “Pass Time” still lead the pack, but are only 1-2% higher than the next most popular “Relax/De-stress,” compared to a full 10% in the 2015 report. Dr. Brand said this may be because more Australians are coming around to the idea that games can be more than a pure entertainment medium.

Under the topic of Intention, Dr. Brand focused on families and play, showing that 48% of parents agree that games are a great way to spend time with their children. Whether it’s playing games together with their children, or in discourse on the subject of video games, the report shows that a large percentage of parents are using games as a tool for getting to know their kids. 89% of parents talk about games with their kids. 81% see games as a chance for family time, to be together. 79% see them as a great general education tool, and 74% see them as motivators, to help their kids achieve their goals.

The Intention section of the report also showed that more than half of all respondents agreed that games should improve in representations of diversity. Gender, age, race, national, and language diversity were highlighted by 58-66% of respondents. Only religious diversity dipped below the halfway line, with a 40% selection rate.

Finally, the Advantage section of the report discussed how games can be used to help people to get ahead. In this section, 71% of parents saw games as important to their children’s education, and 62% saw games as important in helping schools to stay relevant. Working-age adults didn’t really see games as all that useful to them in the workplace, however, with 34% of respondents seeing benefit in using them to gain workplace-specific knowledge or skills.

On the business side, the games industry in Australia was reported to have remained steady at $2.96 billion retail value, up from $2.83 billion in the 2015 report. Digital games have made a considerable leap, taking $1.89 billion, compared to physical sales coming in at $1.07 billion. An astonishing 76% of respondents believe that making games in Australia would be of benefit to the Australian economy.

All data included in DA18 was taken from the Nielson Your Voice panel, which is an opt-in program of online surveys. Of course, this automatically affects what kinds of Australians can be included in any random sample. For this report, the sample was requested as evenly distributed amongst genders and states and territories, and from there randomly selected, with a ±2.3% margin of error for individual responses. DA18 is a valuable tool for journalists, researchers, academics, government lobbyists, and more.

But no survey-based research is perfect, no study is infallible, and no report is without agenda. It’s helpful in painting a picture, and in the case of DA18, the picture of how games are perceived by Australians is a positive one. It’s not without fault, but it’s certainly better than the picture painted by those that continue in the dilapidated, archaic, and unfounded idea that games have no cultural, economic, or societal benefit at all.

Source: Copyright © Hyper Magazine. All rights reserved.

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