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Sports Applications Technology

MIT Knows Sports Video Games, and Their Players

December 04, 2012


The folks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT (News - Alert)) have been conducting a study for over a year now, taking a closer look at the phenomenon of sports video gaming. Abe Stein at the MIT Game Lab, himself a sports gamer, took a closer look at just who makes up this segment of gaming, and released the results in a report late November.

The report, which appeared in "Convergence (News - Alert): The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies", generated some interesting, if not necessarily surprising, results. Stein's study focused on a survey of 1,718 gamers over the age of 18, and revealed that much of what might be expected about a sports gamer is in fact the case. Most sports gamers are white males between the ages of 18 and 24, though there are certainly outliers in terms of gender, age, and race. When not playing sports video games, most--68.3 percent--turned to shooters, followed by action games at 59.4 percent, and action RPGs at 50.1 percent. MMOs, meanwhile, saw the worst results of sports gamers at 16.4 percent, and right around 82 percent wouldn't play games on social media sites.

The platforms of choice for sports gamers were almost perfectly tied, with 60.3 percent calling it for the PlayStation 3 and 60 percent calling it for the Xbox 360--naturally, some gamers went with both--and even the PC was close to the market at 58 percent. Oddly, only 40 percent of respondents actually play online, a fact not yet explained, but one that that Stein and his cohorts who put the report together--Mia Consalvo from Concordia University and MIT's Konstantin Mitgutsch--promised to address in a future report.

Some would, of course, wonder here if the lag in online gaming is perhaps related to the lag in appropriately powerful online connections. One thing that the MIT report appeared notably short on is geographic locations of the sports gamers, and if that particular bit of demographic were in play, it might explain the issue. If more sports gamers are rural dwellers, or otherwise unavailable to get high-speed Internet beyond the satellite level, it would rather handily explain the lag. Though that particular piece of evidence may be available in the full report--access to same reportedly costs $25--it would be an easy answer to what might be a question much more difficult than previously expected.

There are several questions yet to be addressed, and they'll likely be covered in future reports. For now, the information about just who plays sports games is fairly complete, and we should therefore look for more sports games to appeal to 18 to 24 year old white males to keep in line with the demographics.

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