A recent study has revealed that New Zealanders are enthusiastically embracing the potentially positive impacts computer and video games can have in our lives – including in an educational setting.

Computer and video games haven’t traditionally attracted a lot of great press, particularly where their influence on young people is concerned. Yet according to a study conducted by Queensland’s Bond University and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), Kiwis are rethinking the decades-old narrative that games are degrading the attention spans of our young people and immersing them in a virtual world of violence that could manifest in real life.

The study, Digital New Zealand 2018, studied 807 New Zealand households comprising 2,288 individuals of all ages. One of the key takeaways coming out of the report is that games are rapidly becoming and indispensable tool in today’s classrooms: 59 per cent of parents said that their children have used video games within a school’s curriculum, compared to 38 per cent in 2016. And it’s not just teachers getting behind the use of games in learning: seven in 10 parents believe games can be effective for teaching students.

Dr Jeff Brand, a Bond University professor who led the study, believes that society is realising that many of the ‘moral panic’ tropes that have built up around video games over the years don’t add up to much.

“There are certain stereotypes that society has created about video games – and our research breaks every one of them,” said Dr Brand. “Over 65s continue to make up the largest group of players new to games, and they’re playing to achieve specific health and ageing outcomes. We have also seen a significant uptake of games in schools and the workplace. Games play a fundamental role in how we connect, stay healthy, and learn.”

Other key findings from Digital New Zealand 2018 include:

  • Kiwis consume games just like other entertainment media – Ninety-eight per cent of homes with children have computer games, eight out of 10 own multiple devices. 85 minutes is the average daily total of all game play.
  • The modern face of gaming – Two-thirds of all Kiwis play video games; 47% of players are female; 73% of players are aged 18 years or older; the average player age is 34.
  • Call for diversity – 62% of adult players say games need more age diversity in characters.


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