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Gamers: Skinny but depressed

Gamers are not chubby. They are depressed and skinny. So says a new study by a team of researchers at USC, PARC, and the University of Delaware.

The stereotype of the fat gamer has been destroyed. A recent study shows that the average gamer engages in vigorous exercise once or twice a week, which the researchers say is more than most Americans. Adult gamers have an average body mass index of 25.2, compared to the overall American average of 28, according to a story in New Scientist.

The downside, however, was that the gamers reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their compatriots. "They may be drawn to use the game to help deal with emotional distress," says team member Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware.

The work also suggested that young men do not dominate such games, as they are often assumed to: there were more players in their thirties than in their twenties, and older players tended to spend more time in the game. Furthermore, although fewer women played the game, those who did typically played for longer than men (Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol 13, p 993).

The survey was conducted across three different institutions: University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and the University of Delaware. Players of the Sony Online Entertainment-developed PC MMO EverQuest II were offered a special weapon, "the Greatstaff of the Sun Serpent," as incentive for participation.

The study didn't mention if the gamers still lived in their parents' basements. I'd like to see a sys admin study next where we find out they are all tri-athletes.