The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has released its Power of Play 2023 report revealing the benefits, behaviours and interests of players. Data collected came from academic studies and global surveys, and shows that playing video games is "about far more than entertainment".
In fact, games have been found to be an important supporter of people’s mental wellbeing, with 71% of those in the study reporting that gaming helps them "feel less stressed" in only a few minutes of playing. This applies across the board, be they 10 or 55, in Poland or South Korea (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Gamers have also reported gaining and improving skills from playing games, from reading comprehension to communication and problem-solving skills.
Around the world, around the world
Naturally, the primary reason most people game is to have fun - though Italy broke from this trend with its player base more using games to "pass the time". Elsewhere around the world, be it Australia, France, the UK or Japan, having fun came out on top.
Importantly, 58% of players worldwide feel less isolated and lonely when they game, and 52% use gaming as an outlet to help them through difficult times. A reduction in isolation is especially noteworthy when only 51% play online at least once per week; even fewer (38%) game together in person weekly.
In fact, 87% of respondents mainly play games alone, yet 67% feel games are a vehicle for making connections. Brazil came out on top for in-person play with 75% of respondents gaming together in person every week. Japanese players do this the least at only 32%, and only 21% play weekly online.
"Engaging with arts and culture online can improve mental health in young people," said one Oxford University study highlighted in the report.
Perhaps the most striking statistic in the report, a surprising 42% of gamers studied have made a close friend or even met their significant other or spouse through video games.
"The Power of Play report affirms globally what we already knew to be true in the United States: video games have the power to transcend entertainment. The social and emotional benefits of video gameplay are felt by a global, diverse group of players that build communities and have the power to affect positive change in each other’s lives," said ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis.
As for which games are proving popular with players, hypercasual certainly represents a massive share, with a huge 3.5 billion downloads in the genre through Q3 2023.