According to the Children’s Commissioner, 93% of children in the UK play video games (October, 2019) and gaming has become the most popular and profitable form of entertainment (Reuters, 2018).
But despite these impressive figures, a number of parents tell us they “just don’t get it”. So why do young people game?
We spoke to children aged 9 to 16 to better understand their motivations and they came up with 10 reasons.
“When I play I can be someone else”
C aged 12
- Escapism – You’re not just escaping your surroundings, you’re escaping yourself. In movies and books you get to see into another world, in video games you get to be. You can be a professional footballer or a mythical creature in a fantasy world. The experiences are endless.
- Mastery – Games can bring a sense of achievement. You get to level up, see your score on the leader board, often quicker than in the physical world, making it motivating to continue to play.
- Exploration – It can often feel like we don’t have a lot of control over our life, but with games can be in control. We get to choose the games we play, and we get to choose the way we engage in them, giving young people a sense of autonomy.
- Risk Taking – Young people are more likely to take risks than adults, and in games, if you die, you just press restart and try again. It doesn’t really impact your physical life as much as for example, failing a test at school.
“It takes a long time to get somewhere so you just open the packs”
T aged 16
- Competition – If you play football or do gymnastics, you only get to compete once or twice a week. In games you’re able to compete every single day for hours on end.
- To make money – Esports and streaming provide opportunities to turn gaming into a career. Just like in professional sport or the music industry, the chances of reaching the top are slim, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing to players.
- A chance to create – The opportunity to create new worlds and have control over them can be very attractive in games like Minecraft for example. You can’t really do that in the physical world, and certainly not to the same scale.
“I can chat to all my friends when they’re not actually with me…
or if they just want to tell me stuff in private”
A aged 10
- Socialise – Whilst playing online you don’t just get to build on existing friendships, you get to establish new ones. With online forums, live streaming and Esports channels, you’re a part of a culture and a community that is larger than yourself or any single game.
- Stress Buster – We all need to take a break from daily life at times and how we choose to do that can differ. Gaming can be a way to escape these pressures, but if it is causing you not to deal with the things you need to deal with, that can be a problem.
- Collecting – Many players enjoy visual progression as much as skill progression in games. With in-app purchases, loot boxes and microtransactions, you now have many ways to collect different items, not just games, but character items too.
Gaming can be a positive thing. Ensuring that you set controls for lengths of play, who they can talk to, what they can access can ensure that gaming and on-line play can be a safe and enjoyable aspect.