Particularly in the tabloid media, the gaming industry is very often looked down upon and even used as a scapegoat to attempt to deflect the finger-pointing to an easy target. This has long been seen with the inane argument that video games that feature violence cause violent youths to erupt across society.

Equally, however, there’s the common perception that gaming is an entertainment medium for children and that gamers are, more or less, mostly children. Of course, many people play games beyond their age brackets, just as they do with watching movies, but it’s quite telling that four of Forbes’ ten best-selling games of 2023 were rated 16+ or 18+, with three of the others being the annual sports titles.

Here, we’re delving into not only why the common perception of the gamer is wrong but also how the easy spins and blame placed on the industry are mostly false as well.

Gamers aren’t who you think they are

Drawing from its extensive demographics survey performed in the UK and the US, ExpressVPN found the true demographic of gamers. Most would assume that Gen Z (aged in their early 20s and younger) would be the dominant force in gaming, but actually, it’s Millennials.

Those in their late 20s to their early 40s are the most dedicated class of people who identify themselves as gamers. As it turns out, only 25 per cent of gamer respondents aged 16 to 25 play for eight or more hours per week. For Millennials, that number jumps to 37 per cent, while 38 per cent of 36 to 45-year-olds game for eight hours up.

Equally, there are many more female gamers than the standard narrative would indicate. While female preferences lean a bit more towards single-player experiences over the male preference for online multiplayer games, interestingly, the most popular game for both men and women in the survey was the first-person shooter Call of Duty. It’s clear that gamers aren’t merely angry young boys.

The benefits of gaming

This isn’t just going to be a dazzling praise of gaming or the gaming industry. There’s a lot wrong with the industry, from dubious no-refund policies to loot boxes — which is just gambling — but people can also get a lot of joy from the medium. A survey found that the most popular reasons for playing were for joy, mental stimulation, and stress relief.

Contrary to many narratives, video games have also proved themselves to be beneficial to people. As detailed in this piece by PsychologyToday which cites several verified studies, gamers benefit from improvements in attention and vigilance, executive functioning, and even in some job-related skills like those requiring quick decisions and excellent working memory.

More than anything else, gaming is an immersive story-telling medium that often allows people to be not only creative in the process of making games, but also while playing the creations. You can sink into a powerful story and experience it as though it’s directly happening to you rather than an actor or the person you conjure up in your mind from a good book.

Gamers and gaming have an undeserved bad reputation. The facts not only show the greater gaming contingent to be adults but also indicate that gaming as a leisure pastime can be beneficial in numerous ways.