Are online gamers really unpopular, overweight, and socially inept? Science weighs in.

By Seriously Science | January 7, 2014 7:00 am

You’re probably familiar with the stereotype of people who play online games like World of Warcraft: overweight, nerdy men who spend days online without leaving the house. But how accurate is this description? Here, a group of German researchers addressed this vital question by conducting telephone interviews with groups of gamers and non-gamers. They found that, while many players do not fit this gamer stereotype, those who spend the most time gaming online are more likely to fit the stereotype. Interestingly, they also found that the average gamer was in his 30s, contrary to the image of teenagers as being the primary consumers of video games. I guess that particular stereotype is simply 15 years out of date.

Unpopular, Overweight, and Socially Inept: Reconsidering the Stereotype of Online Gamers.

“Online gaming has become an activity associated with a highly specific, caricatured, and often negative image. This “stereotype” has permeated the collective consciousness, as online gamers have become common caricatures in popular media. A lack of comprehensive demographic inquiries into the online gaming population has made it difficult to dispute these stereotypical characteristics and led to rising concerns about the validity of these stereotypes. The current study aims to clarify the basis of these negative characterizations, and determine whether online video game players display the social, physical, and psychological shortcomings stereotypically attributed them. Sampling and recruiting was conducted using a two-stage approach. First, a representative sample of 50,000 individuals aged 14 and older who were asked about their gaming behavior in an omnibus telephone survey. From this sample, 4,500 video game players were called for a second telephone interview, from which the current data were collected. Only those participants who completed all of the questions relating to video game play were retained for the current analysis (n=2,550). Between- and within-group analyses were enlisted to uncover differences between online, offline, and nongame playing communities across varying degrees of involvement. The results indicate that the stereotype of online gamers is not fully supported empirically. However, a majority of the stereotypical attributes was found to hold a stronger relationship with more involved online players than video game players as a whole, indicating an empirical foundation for the unique stereotypes that have emerged for this particular subgroup of video game players.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: First-person shooter games as a way of connecting to people: “brothers in blood”.
NCBI ROFL: The effect of social support derived from World of Warcraft on negative psychological symptoms.
NCBI ROFL: The ideal elf: identity exploration in World of Warcraft.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: duh, reinforcing stereotypes
  • LJ Owen

    Not sure how being overweight has anything to do with anything, except bigotry. Coincidentally, most stereotypes have some roots in one or more forms of bigotry. This article doesn’t address the real issues, but instead plays them for attention, much like a 6-year-old. This is beneath you, Discover.

    • JL Newo

      Did you look at the title of the blog?

  • Freelance Philosophy

    The Problem isn’t health as much as it’s wasted mental/computational capacity. The energy “wasted” on Bit-Coin pales in comparison to the energy wasted for make pixels dance for the sake of hypnotic pleasure. Video games will waste you, desensitize you, and steal your time. Trust me.


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]

See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar