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Fat, Depressed & 35 y.o.
August 18, 2009 4:11 PM   Subscribe

"The average video gamer is not the stereotypical adolescent locked to a computer screen 24/7."* According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University: "A new study [PDF] says the average age of video-game players in the United States is 35 [PDF], and oh, by the way: They're overweight and tend to be depressed."
"'Health-risk factors, specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days differentiated adult video-game players from non-players,' said Dr. James B. Weaver III of the CDC in Atlanta. 'Video-game players also reported lower extroversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns.'"*
Videogames: Play or "Playlike Activiy?" [PDF]
posted by ericb (63 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting:

... 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area

The Seattle-Tacoma area as a whole skews skinny relative to the rest of the US. I wonder if that affects the interpretation of the results; perhaps the overweight Seattlites wouldn't need as much escapism in a more overweight community setting.
posted by gurple at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2009


So, do sad fatties play video games or do video games turn me into a sad fatty?
posted by floam at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


Hey! I resemble that remark. Except I'm 25... not 35. And I have a few "athletic" hobbies.

But I'm not sure about causality here. I really think that introverted, non-physical types choose to play video games because it's some of the best entertainment you can get if you're introverted and non-physical.

These are basically the same people who, twenty years ago, would be working on their model train sets or playing tabletop wargames. Thirty years before that, they might be building a HAM radio set. I don't know what geeks did before that, though...
posted by Netzapper at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, please. Kick me in the balls again.
posted by cimbrog at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


" Emory University and Andrews University analyzed survey data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area."

something tells me the results would be different in michigan or ohio or texas or louisiana, or hell - even on the other side of the state like in pullman.


"The Seattle-Tacoma area was chosen for the study, researchers said, both because of its size as the 13th largest media market in the United States and because its Internet usage level is "the highest in the nation."

i think the reasons they chose seattle tacoma are the exact reasons why it gives skewed results. add to it that you find companies like nintendo and microsoft there, and it's no wonder the age averages out to 35 - when videogames are your business, you probably play them more.

furthermore - "The average video gamer is not the stereotypical adolescent locked to a computer screen 24/7." - well, since this study only surveyed 19 year olds and up, they didn't really question a whole bunch of adolescents.
posted by nadawi at 4:25 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but what's Dr. Weaver III's frag count? I'll bet he's just bitter he couldn't get xp with his party using teamspeak.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:28 PM on August 18, 2009


The Seattle-Tacoma area was chosen... because its Internet usage level is "the highest in the nation."

I think the researchers misunderstood this statistic.

*cough! cough!*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:40 PM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Me, I'm blaming the surprisingly high quality of beer NW America.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


...but they're so much cooler online.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2009


MetaFilter: "[perceiving] the Internet community as a positive social support"
posted by Nomiconic at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2009


Fragged as offensive.
posted by qvantamon at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


What new hobby will those wacky potbellied hipsters take up next?
posted by escabeche at 4:44 PM on August 18, 2009


As was noted over at MeFight Club, they only sample 19 and above, so make what you will of that average age of 35.
posted by absalom at 4:53 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also: I'm only 32.
posted by absalom at 4:53 PM on August 18, 2009


The first sentence refers to the "growing concern" over the health effects of video-game playing. I actually had to check the date of the PDF to make sure it wasn't 1989.
posted by DU at 4:53 PM on August 18, 2009


The Seattle-Tacoma area as a whole skews skinny relative to the rest of the US.

I believe it also skews as more-depressed than the rest of the US.
posted by rokusan at 4:54 PM on August 18, 2009


So they wanted to figure out who was gaming, and surveyed 19-90 year olds.

Brilliant!

Because everyone knows that kids don't play videogames.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:57 PM on August 18, 2009


I think they just failed to identify the prevailing stereotype before deciding that the stereotype was wrong.
posted by The World Famous at 4:59 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pfft, whatever. I RETRIEVED THE G.E.C.K!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:59 PM on August 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


And BMI is a terrible way of measuring "fatness". Really, reading through the study, this just seems like a bunch of bollocks.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:02 PM on August 18, 2009


furthermore - "The average video gamer is not the stereotypical adolescent locked to a computer screen 24/7." - well, since this study only surveyed 19 year olds and up, they didn't really question a whole bunch of adolescents.

Seriously. The press release says "While video gaming is generally perceived as a pastime for children and young adults, research shows that the average age of players in the United States is 35." How can they possibly write that when they didn't even survey children?
posted by smackfu at 5:02 PM on August 18, 2009


Came back one more time to echo smackfu. Absolutely ridiculous, and bad science to boot.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:03 PM on August 18, 2009


The CDC participated in this study?!

I was not aware that keeping track of pudgy gamers was important to America's health.

How about they spend a few more of those resources discerning how polyvalent they need to make their upcoming swine flu vaccine? I'm in the scientific community; I can pretty well determine that we don't need to worry about pudgy gamers as much as, say, pandemic flu, seasonal flu, or even a cold. Pudgy gamers are harmless.
posted by kldickson at 5:04 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pudgy gamers are harmless.

Log onto my PvP server and say that to my avatar's face, bitch!
posted by Netzapper at 5:15 PM on August 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also, they have a typo in the real study.
Reponses were recorded as either I don’t use (0) or ranked on a scale ranging from not at all important (1) to extremely important (9).
Actually they use "reponses" twice. I wonder if someone accidentally added it to the dictionary.

In general, other than that, the actual study seems to be fairly interesting, but very, very stats heavy. I can't make much sense of it; it's been a long time since statistics class. And the summary press-release is awful. Like that "average age of players is 35" doesn't even seem to be from the survey.
posted by smackfu at 5:16 PM on August 18, 2009


And BMI is a terrible way of measuring "fatness".

Dude, when looking at large enough populations, BMI does a fine job.
posted by aspo at 5:16 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


And BMI is a terrible way of measuring "fatness". Really, reading through the study, this just seems like a bunch of bollocks.

I think I disagree. It may be nontrivial to figure out how fat you are from your BMI. But are you really saying 10 people with a 25% higher average BMI than another group of 10 people aren't going to be fatter?
posted by floam at 5:19 PM on August 18, 2009


So, do sad fatties play video games or do video games turn me into a sad fatty?

All I know is, when I get pwned, I turn to Krispy Kreme, Lord of the Torus.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:19 PM on August 18, 2009


>Pudgy gamers are harmless.

>>Log onto my PvP server and say that to my avatar's face, bitch!


Spill my beer while I'm playing Robotron at the bar, and it's on!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:25 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Totally, completely, 100% inaccurate. I am 38.
posted by jbickers at 5:26 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least I have chicken.
posted by rkent at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


OOH CHICKEN! Yeah, I got some in the fridge. Gotta go microwave some when I get another beer in a minit
posted by jbickers at 5:31 PM on August 18, 2009


I'm not overweight.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 5:41 PM on August 18, 2009


I'm not 35!
posted by darkstar at 5:47 PM on August 18, 2009


How about they spend a few more of those resources discerning how polyvalent they need to make their upcoming swine flu vaccine? I'm in the scientific community; I can pretty well determine that we don't need to worry about pudgy gamers as much as, say, pandemic flu, seasonal flu, or even a cold. Pudgy gamers are harmless.

I imagine it's not a zero-sum game. It's not as if psychologists who study mental health can contribute much in looking at a viral culture beyond, "hey looks like polka dots." And both mental health issues and fitness are expensive medical problems as well.

Looking at the study though, I can't really tell what the numbers mean. To me, it looks like they got significant findings with a low effect size well within a standard deviation (which I sort of was expecting from the press release). The numbers look interesting but hardly predictive.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2009


Is Metafilter a video game?

No? Good, then carry on, CDC.
posted by jeoc at 6:12 PM on August 18, 2009


And really, an editor give Choney a dressing-down. Her lead (quoted in the opening post) is significantly misleading. The average player was overweight, but the average nonplayer was as well, and that is only significant for male players (BMI 28.05 vs 26.55). Female gamers scored significantly higher on a survey designed to measure depression, but it's not clear that the difference between 1.48 and 1.16 (less than half of a standard deviation, at confidence level of 0.10!) crosses the threshold from normal to depressed.

It's a terribly irresponsible and misleading lead, even in relationship to the lean press release.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:27 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


An editor should give Choney a dressing-down that is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:28 PM on August 18, 2009


Fat, drunk and depressed is no way to go through life, son.
posted by digsrus at 6:43 PM on August 18, 2009


If I wanted to be slim, I'd get one of these! Then it would be Lance Armstrong's turn to be depressed.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:43 PM on August 18, 2009


Fat, drunk and depressed is no way to go through life, son.

Fuck you, mom. Bring me a Pepsi.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:47 PM on August 18, 2009


As an aside, is it just me, or is computer game box art getting cornier these days (compared to the mid-late 90's)? I always thought it reflected a shift in the gaming demographic. But then again, maybe I just didn't realize how corny most box art is when I was younger.
posted by pravit at 6:54 PM on August 18, 2009


Come now gamers, empty pizza boxes are useless as a defensive weapon.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:58 PM on August 18, 2009


And BMI is a terrible way of measuring "fatness".

Well as we know, BMI rates the obese and weightlifters alike. What we're probably looking at are a random sampling of muscle-bound gamers. Yeah, that's it.

Hold up. Is Seattle as rainy as Vancouver? Depression you say, hmm.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:17 PM on August 18, 2009


Dude, when looking at large enough populations, BMI does a fine job.

I see what you did there.
posted by DU at 7:21 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


pravitk, you might appreciate this tumblr of vintage box art, instruction book covers, and magazine ads for games. Not much in terms of accompanying text, but it's pretty stuff to look at.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:23 PM on August 18, 2009


They could be depressed because their time in front of the television or computer screen, rather than out in the sunshine (which Seattle doesn't have enough of as it is) contributes to the Vitamin D deficiency that is a problem there, and now they're going to OMG DIE OF HEART DISEASE, too.
posted by misha at 7:33 PM on August 18, 2009


My Xbox died and it made me sad.
posted by matteo at 7:35 PM on August 18, 2009


The original CDC report didn't say that the average age of gamers was 35, or any other age. This appears to be a misreading by whoever wrote the AJPM article.

So they wanted to figure out who was gaming, and surveyed 19-90 year olds. Brilliant! Because everyone knows that kids don't play videogames.

please RTFA before you snark.

"Young people are particularly vulnerable to media exposure, and most research on video-game playing has focused on those aged 8–18 years (15% of the U.S. population). National studies show that video-game playing is prevalent in this age group, with 59%–73% playing a video game on any given day."
posted by magic curl at 7:37 PM on August 18, 2009


Is there still a bar where Robotron can be played? I have a fantasy of one beer per joystick.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:41 PM on August 18, 2009


It is mostly just a dream of mine (oh how I'd love to open a gaming bar in Vancouver, if it weren't expressly forbidden by BC liquor licensing), but if you live in NY, Barcade would be the go.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on August 18, 2009


Hmm, I'm liking this thing called Metafilter. Don't even have to read the article any more - it's already been intelligently analyzed in the comments. Brilliant.

Also - I'm starting to get a little weirded out; this is the fourth or fifth time I've heard Vancouver mentioned in the threads. From a very unscientific sampling of the past few days that I've been reading, I'd have to say the Mefite population skews west-coast Canadian?? The weirdest thing... I wonder if I actually know anyone here in real life.
posted by Arandia at 9:53 PM on August 18, 2009


I may be fat and suicidal, but if you have a problem with equally-spaced ping pong balls and various fruits infesting the multiple right-angled halls of your house, I can hoover those babies up like nobody's business.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:17 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


And don't even get me started on transporting your frogs from one side of a busy highway to the next.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:18 PM on August 18, 2009


/nostalgic for the days when gamer geeks were (and still are) skinny and drunk.
posted by porpoise at 10:31 PM on August 18, 2009


turgid dahlia, while you're moving those frogs, I have some newspapers that need delivered. I also have several man-sized pipes that need unclogged. Come to think of it, would you mind intercepting the ICBMs en route to four major metropolitan centers?

Oh, and when you're done with that, could you go kill about fifteen thousand giant rats and tell me what you learn from your experience?
posted by Netzapper at 10:32 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


yeah, i'm pretty sure i've seen the 35 yr. old quote before (and used it on my girlfriend to defend gaming) so, i don't think they 'discovered' that through this study, but rather used it as a starting point and simply stated it as a preface to their actual work on what the effects are on that demographic.
posted by jadayne at 12:10 AM on August 19, 2009


An internet-based survey confined to one geographical area? I smell a rat.

"Study finds that people who have nothing better to do and are depressed and overweight participate in internet surveys that offer rewards."

Ok, seriously:
"The sample was drawn from a panel maintained by e-Rewards Marketing Research of more than 60,000 participants.35 Panel members were solicited by e-mail to complete a survey about their world views and media use." (Page 2 under "Methods".)

I wonder how many times the data were sold. (Survey finds left-leaning Seattleites suffer from depression, overeating etc. etc.)

From e-Rewards:
"We believe the best way to establish and maintain long-term relationships with our panel members is to truly value their time. Our panel members earn e-Rewards® currency for the time they spend answering market research surveys. They can redeem this currency for valuable rewards from our program sponsors and other participating companies.
An incentive program, such as ours, that supports the accumulation of a currency redeemable at various "bonus thresholds", has been shown by tracking studies to achieve the highest participation rates and retention longevity compared to other incentive approaches."


After spending an alarming amount of time reading posts regarding e-rewards I found that mostly their rewards are for magazines and travel, in the form of coupons. This, coupled with my observation above makes me wonder how far into their prospectus e-rewards proceeds before using the word "leverage". I want to see a survey giving a detailed analysis of people who respond to internet surveys for trivial compensation. Doubt I'll be seeing that anytime soon from e-rewards.

Also:

"... But who will be left to remind us that – for children and adults alike – Hide-And-Seek and Freeze Tag are still probably what we need most?” *
This from San Diego. Playing Freeze Tag in half the country from November to March has a slightly more literal meaning.
posted by vapidave at 5:08 AM on August 19, 2009


Because this study uses a cross-sectional design, conclusions about causality cannot be made. The fact that the sample was drawn from a population concentrated in western Washington State and from an Internet-based panel may limit generalizability of the results.

Caveat emptor.
posted by moonbiter at 5:29 AM on August 19, 2009


"May" is an awful weasel word in that sentence. It does limit the generalizability, full stop.
posted by smackfu at 6:11 AM on August 19, 2009


matteo : My Xbox died and it made me sad.

Right there with you.

the average age of video-game players in the United States is 35

I'm 38 and an avid gamer, so... "check".

They're overweight

Since I quit smoking I've gotten a lot more athletic and am probably in the best shape of my life. No check for you here.

and tend to be depressed.

Broken Xbox?.. Ok, "check"

Still, considering the other facts about general obesity in the US along with the high percentages of people who self identify as being "depressed" I think someone who wanted to could correlate these two facts to practically any group.
posted by quin at 8:36 AM on August 19, 2009


Depressed?

Having to pay a minimum of 50 cents for an arcade game makes me depressed. I remember when it was only that God-awful quarterdrainer "Dragon's Lair" that charged you 50 cents for 30 seconds of suck. Arcades are no longer at all appealing.

Gone are the days when "Coin detected in pocket!" could lure me to the machine like a moth to a flame. But I guess I'm showing my age, then, too.
posted by darkstar at 9:24 AM on August 19, 2009


"Fat, depressed and 35" sounds like an average demographic for the entire country.
posted by chundo at 1:54 PM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


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