Games in Healthcare

Study: Gamers More Physically Active Than Previously Believed

Everquest IIResearchers at the University of Southern California have uncovered surprising findings regarding the physical fitness of video gamers. The study which focused on players of the online multiplayer game EverQuest II found that most of these gamers spent more time doing physical activity than average Americans and were overall in better shape.

The study led by Dmitri Williams, a researcher at USC Annenberg School for Communication determined that most participants exercised vigorously at least once or twice a week. They appear to be much more fit than the 62 per cent of American adults who rarely exercise for more than 10 minutes at any time. Read More...

The respondents also were found to be 10 per cent leaner than the average American, according to their height and weight reports. Williams and his colleagues used the same self-report questions used in common national health surveys to determine the gamers’ fitness habits.

"Games have pretty much been on the defensive for the past 20 years by being attacked as unhealthy and culturally destructive," said Williams, in a news report. "That's been changing in the past few years, but it's still the prevailing wisdom."

Williams speculates that the better health habits of the study participants may lie in the fact that most gamers play in place of watching television. In fact, respondents in the survey said they watched 10 fewer hours of television every week than the average American. Williams believes that while TV watchers get bombarded by messages about "buying, consuming and eating," video gamers get messages about "taking action" within the game, which may influence their real-life habits.

"I think a part of it is that the culture of video games is not necessarily a culture of consumption, whereas the culture of television clearly is," Williams noted, adding that more research needs to be done on the subject.

While healthy in a physical sense, the survey did find that a predominance of mental health issues in participants. The participants were 50 per cent more likely than the average American to have been diagnosed with depression while 20 per cent reported substance addiction. However, the survey could not determine if depressed or addicted people were simply more drawn to these types of games, rather than the game causing ill mental health.

The 25-minute survey was completed by 7000 participants, over two days, who received as an incentive a virtual item in the game. The study was completed with additional user data from Sony Online Entertainment, who runs the EverQuest II servers, and who kindly provided the information for this purpose.