Research shows worth of computer games

(Last Updated On: October 6, 2017)

A report entitled ‘Digital New Zealand 2018’ reveals a growing awareness and acceptance of the positive potential of computer games for culture, imagination, social interaction, and learning.

Findings from the recently-released Digital New Zealand 2018 (DNZ18) research study provide valuable insights for educators with an interest in the impact and opportunity of digital games and interactive entertainment in learning. It’s packed with information directly relevant to online safety, student engagement and effectiveness in education.

From Bond University in Queensland and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), DNZ18 studied 807 New Zealand households and 2,288 individuals, revealing 67 per cent of Kiwis play video games; close to half of all players are female (47 per cent); and 98 per cent of New Zealand families have video game devices, eight out of 10 owning multiple game devices.

“Interactive games have become a huge part of our culture and while the key reasons remain playing for fun and to pass time, games increasingly serve other uses,” said Dr Jeff Brand, lead author of the report and Professor of Communication and Media.

“New Zealanders are playing for social connectedness, whether that be with family or friends. They’re playing to reduce stress, to be challenged, to learn, to keep the mind active, or for physical and mental health benefits.”

Effective learning

The study highlighted significant growth in the use of games in schools. More than half of parents (59 per cent) stated their children have used video games for school curriculum, compared to 38 per cent in the 2016 report. Seven in 10 parents believe games can be effective for teaching students.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen a big increase in the amount of educational video games and we’ve watched levels of sophistication grow. These games are used to increase engagement, student motivation, promote critical thinking and problem solving across all subject areas including maths, science and reading.”

Brand believes games are not only a powerful way to get kids interested in technology, they can increase social connectedness.

“Over time, gaming has become much more social. Online gaming for children is often a shared experience that can improve social connectedness in and out of the classroom.”

Growth and value

The sale of digital games in New Zealand has grown by a 20 per cent compound annual growth rate in the last three years.

“Everyone plays, and they consume games just like any other media with 85 minutes the average daily total of all game play,” said Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA. “More than that, Kiwis recognise the value of games, beyond entertainment, in the family home, schools, workplaces, health care settings and socially.”

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Never too old to play games – Over 65s make up the largest and fastest growing segment of people new to games. Seventy-three per cent of players are aged 18 years or older.
  • The family that games together, stays together – Half of parents play video games together with their children in the same room. One in four play video games together with their children online, and most parents (86 per cent) have talked with a child about playing safely online.
  • Gaming for health – New Zealanders value play for better health and positive ageing, whether that be to improve thinking skills (85 per cent), improve dexterity (76 per cent) or manage pain (52 per cent). Almost 90 per cent say they play to increase mental stimulation, 76 per cent state video games help fight dementia, and 46 per cent agreed playing games can help increase mobility.

To download the full report go to


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