Wednesday 18 March 2009

The Gamers' Space - the project

Digital games are still finding their place in our society, and while there are a lot of assumptions made about games and particularly gamers, we know very little. What we do know is that gamers are not a homogenous group. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the game producers interest organisation and their facts about the industry:
The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years.
The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old.
Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).

Different research projects come up with different numbers, but the trend is the same. Gamers are not predominantly teenage boys lacking in social skills, but range from young children to aging adults, and are pretty much average on the social skill scale. Also, more women play than previously known.

In order to learn more facts about who the gamers are, I would like to look at where they play. Are gamers isolated from their surroundings in a separate room, or do they play in large, common spaces? Is the game machine the "bad conscience" of the house, the messy machine that doesn't deserve to be seen by guests, or is it a prodly displayed mechanical wonder which is frequently used by gamers and their gaming families and friends? Is there a certain game aesthetic in how gamers decorate the space where they spend so much time, or is there no trace of the game activities outside of the machine?

This project consists of three parts.
1) An online survey, where the links are posted on several different boards for game discussions and game communities across the internet. This survey is open for one month, from March 25th to April 25th 2009. If you wish to participate, use this link while the survey is active.

2) Pictures from volunteers of their game space, showing how the game machine is positioned in the room. If you would like to participate in this part, such pictures should be mailed to research dot game at gmail dot com.

3) A visit to The Gathering at Hamar 2009, one of the largest LAN parties in the world. During this visit I expect to take pictures of gamers and how they set up their machines and organise their space in a context where the computer is the most important piece of furniture. I will also talk to gamers about their use of the machines at home, and ask much the same questions in face-to-face interviews as in the online survey.

The research will be used for an article discussing gamers and the status of digital games in everyday life in 2009. More updates on the writing and possible publication of the material will be available on this weblog.