Video gaming is a popular pastime in New Zealand. It is easy to dismiss this entertainment sector as child’s play, but this is not a true reflection of what statistics tell us. The average age of gamers in New Zealand is 34, and 43% of over 65s now play video games. This is up from 32% in 2013. So are the older players skewing the mean age, and are all the other players kids then? Apparently not; 78% of the people playing online games are 18 or over.
The next myth to bust is that video gaming is a male hobby. This might have been the case in the days of solo console gaming, but in the more sociable online gaming world, nearly half of the players are female. Playing video games is part of normal media usage alongside watching TV and films, listening to music and podcasts, and engaging on social media platforms.
The average time spent playing video games every day is 88 minutes. Most people do not play in a solid block. Gamers tend to play for around ten minutes at a time, three times a day casually and then have about an hour a day of in-depth play.
While this data shows that children are not the majority of people who play online games, it cannot be denied that video games are incredibly popular with young people. A survey about children’s media use found that 76% of children chose video gaming as their preferred entertainment, with watching YouTube coming in a very close second. It is refreshing to learn that 79% of gamers who have children play games with their children, and parents normally monitor what games their children play. Two-thirds of adults are always around when games are purchased, and around half are familiar with parental controls.
In the past, people thought gaming was antisocial, but this does not seem to be the case any more, and a quarter of adult players say they play games with their partners.
All those people playing games have been good for New Zealand’s economy, and the Game Developers Association says that the sector is one of the country’s most valuable industries. There has been annual growth of between 20 and 30 per cent over recent years, and the industry is on track to be a billion-dollar industry by 2026. Video games are rapidly becoming one of New Zealand’s biggest exports bringing in more revenue than wool. Steven Knightly, COO of Rocketwerkz, has said that the games industry is one of New Zealand’s ‘hidden gems’ and earns more than $400 million a year. The award-winning sector is considerably larger than Australia’s.
However, there is concern in the industry that their larger neighbour, Australia, has its eyes on online game developers and is offering attractive tax breaks and incentives to encourage companies to up sticks or start new game studios there. In addition, game studios say that their Australian counterparts are trying to poach staff. Wellington-based PikPok says it has lost 15 of its 200-strong team to Australia since the start of the year.
Another area of online gaming that has exploded recently is online casino gaming. New Zealanders have always loved playing on the pokies, and the proliferation of online gambling sites makes these games increasingly accessible. Mobile phone technology and fantastic connectivity mean that the average adult in the country has a mobile casino in their pocket.
There are many factors influencing the popularity of playing at online casino sites. These include a vast array of games to suit every possible taste and improved user interface meaning the games look fantastic and are easy to access and play. Most online gambling platforms offer app versions of their sites or casinos that are optimised for mobile. Some top developers create games with a ‘mobile-first’ attitude meaning that the games work best on smartphones.
Security of data and payments might have been a concern for players in the past, but up-to-the-minute encryption and AI security measures mean that igamers can play safe in the knowledge their data is secure. The options around payment methods continue to grow as well. As well as standard payment options like debit cards and bank transfers, most reputable online casinos accept other eWallets, meaning you can easily find an Apple Pay, Paypal, or Paysafe casino.
Players reluctant or unable to deposit in their casino account using digital banking apps can still join in. Clever fintech apps have been designed to allow cash to be exchanged for vouchers which can be used to pay for deposits. At land-based casinos or arcades, cash was exchanged for chips or tokens to play at the pokies or gaming tables. PaysafeCard allows players to pay cash for vouchers from participating retail outlets. They then use the codes on the coupons to make deposits into their digital casino account.
Gaming should be fun whether for real money or just to pass the time. It is not called entertainment for nothing. There are concerns that all forms of gaming can be addictive, and therefore the advice is to take breaks and mix up your media usage. People are advised to set a budget and not to spend more than they can afford. With online gambling, the advice is never to wager more than you afford to lose and to count any winnings as a bonus.