Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Exploring the gaming habits of Gen Z

One of the biggest myths busted during Gaming Month on New Digital Age was that it is exclusively a youth pursuit. With some two billion players globally, buoyed by the appeal of hyper casual mobile games, gamers come from all walks of life.

That said, the Generation Z gamer has a particular appeal, as company Imagen sought to find out. It says, in its first piece of independent research, that there are many spheres of life where Gen Z do things differently – and that includes in the gaming arena.

It cites that since the start of COVID-19 related lockdown measures, gaming as a leisure activity has increased dramatically and worldwide sales of video games have seen a 63% increase as of the end of March 2020, according to Statista.

The company polled its Gen Z community – aged 16 to 25 – in order to find out what this upsurge means for that generation, with a 50/50 split on male and female respondents.

As well as analysing what constitutes the “gamer” identity and Gen Z gaming behaviours, the report shows the discourse around Gen Z attitudes to media and society, such as self-representation and gender. It communicates what Gen Z think are the most common myths and misconceptions about gaming. It explores what other industries can learn from game developers as well as the main areas of improvement for the gaming industry, according to Gen Z.

Says co-founder and COO Cat Agostinho: “Our mission to help Gen Z to shape their future by giving them a platform to express their opinions and this research provided a perfect opportunity for our community of consultants to have their say.”

The research shows that half of Gen Z who play games don’t identify as gamers: 73% of male respondents identified as gamers, while only 27% of females did so.

By splitting behaviours into three different categories: casual gamers (playing less than 5 hours a week), core gamers (around 12 hours a week) and hard core gamers (over 20 hours), Imagen concluded that those who played over 20 hours a week was the most diverse. More than half, 51%, self-identified as core gamers, 30% self-identified as hard core gamers, and 18% believed themselves to be casual gamers.

Interestingly, among those who game around 12 hours a week, which we see as a core gamer level, more than half didn’t identify as gamers. Women who game as much as men are almost twice less likely to identify as core gamers.

As expected, Gen Z started gaming more with the start of the COVID-19 related lockdown. The data showed a 41% increase in the number of young people gaming more than 5 hours a week since the start of the COVID-19 related lockdown in 2019.

Almost three-quarters, 73%, of respondents pay for games, and 58% are likely to purchase the full version of a game after the free trial.
A worrying number of respondents – 77% – had experienced a security incident such as data breach on a gaming related website. Notably, 63% of those who experienced the incident did not use the website again at any point after it occurred.

The findings showed that gender, race, body type and sexuality all affect self-representation in gaming. Overall, the qualitative responses demonstrated that self-representation in gaming through the customisation of characters is strongly linked to the questions of gender.

The research also showed that Gen Z gamers wanted to bust common myths around gaming, with many respondents saying that they suffered from the stereotype that gaming was anti-social, while they actually made long-lasting friendships through the activity.

They also called for the promotion of mental health awareness among gamers by the industry, with the need to address addictive behaviours and improve data security.

Highlights and the full report, compiled by Agostinho, CEO and co-founder Jay Richards and community lead Anna Danylchenko can be found here.

Adds Agostinho: “There are so many insightful elements within the report – from the spending power that these young people have, to the common myths (which need to be debunked) to the ability the gaming industry has to connect users into communities at scale – a key area in which other industries to learn from.”



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