Who is the typical South African gamer?

gaming controllers
Image by Romy Topf via Pixabay

When you envision the typical South African gamer, you might picture a young, male esports enthusiast. However, research shows a much more varied picture…

In fact, according to a study by GfK Consumer Life, gamers in South Africa span different ages, genders, and employment groups.

The study surveyed 1 000 South African internet users. The group was “representative of the online population”, according to GfK South Africa Insights Director Rachel Thompson.

Rather than simply being a niche interest, the survey found that the majority of online users surveyed played games at least once a month.

“Around 72% of Internet-connected South Africans play games across their devices at least once a month,” Thompson says.

As is the case in other countries, mobile devices and smartphones have opened up gaming to new audiences, according to the study.

Over half (54%) of the survey’s respondents said that they play games from their mobile phones. Meanwhile, 20% use a dedicated gaming console.

However, the frequency of gaming on consoles varied significantly. Only 12% of respondents said they played games every week on their consoles, while six percent said they play on their consoles every day.

When it comes to these gaming enthusiasts who play daily, the age groups differ.

“Daily gamers are more likely to be members of Generation Z, but there are significant numbers of older daily gamers, too,” Thompson says.

The study also found that regular gamers are more likely to be from high-income households, with 30% of gamers listed as LSM 10 consumers.

Half of these regular gamers work full time, however daily gamers tend to be students or unemployed. In fact, 30% of daily gamers are students, while 20% are unemployed.

Gaming and gender

gamer at arcade
Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

While gaming is often associated with men, the gamer population is much more balanced.

“Our consumer research at GfK shows that playing games today spans generations and genders,” Thompson notes.

According to Thompson, just under half (48%) of gamers identified as men. This means that the majority of South African gamers identify as women or non-binary.

However, when it comes to weekly gamers, this ratio of men increases.  The survey found that 61% of weekly gamers were men.

The survey shows that the perception of gamers as overwhelmingly male is inaccurate.

Comparing South African gamers to other consumers

The study also compared South African gamers to other consumers surveyed by GfK.

Some results were expected–such as the finding that local gamers tend to be technology enthusiasts as well.

“Some 60% of daily gamers describe themselves as ‘passionate about technology’ and 80% planned to purchase home electronics in the next twelve months at the time they were surveyed,” Thompson notes.

“Compared to just 43% of all online consumers in South Africa, 65% said they had knowledge and experience of technology. They are also more likely to purchase online (85% vs 68%).”

Gamers were also more likely to use online streaming services to watch movies.

But some findings contradict the gamer stereotype of secluded introverts who prefer an inactive lifestyle. 

“Regular gamers are more likely than the average online South African to socialise, exercise, play sport, go to gym…” Thompson says.

Gamers also don’t sink all their money into their hobby, spending their income on health and fashion as well.

So who is the South African gamer?

The survey shows that the gaming landscape in South Africa is diverse.

Gamers do tend to come from middle or upper-class households, but as internet connectivity becomes more widely available at cheaper prices, this picture will become more diverse.

Budget devices and the rollout of more immersive games to smartphones will also expand the gaming audience even further.



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