When you sit down to play video games, how long would you say your average session is? An hour? A few hours? How close do you think you are to the average number of hours played in a typical session by most gamers? Of course, it’s difficult to state with certainty what the “average gamer” or “average session” looks like; some sessions can go on for hours, but you might only have time for a quick 10- or 15-minute session at other times.
Luckily, a new study has emerged from ExpressVPN that can give us an idea of how long gamers spend on video games, and the conclusions of the study might surprise you. ExpressVPN talked to 1000 self-professed US gamers and 1000 people in the UK who also self-identified as gamers. They found some pretty interesting things regarding the average amount of time gamers play games for, as well as data regarding age groups and more. Let’s dive in!
Most people play games for a few hours each session
The study by ExpressVPN reveals that on average, most gamers appear to spend around 2-4 hours on gaming sessions. ExpressVPN studied four different age groups: 16 to 25-year-olds, 26 to 35-year-olds, 36 to 45-year-olds, and 46 to 55-year olds. Across all four of those age groups, the highest percentage of gamers played for between 2 and 4 hours, with 1-2 hours and 4-6 hours being the second most popular time frames.
More millennials play games for longer than Gen Z users
According to ExpressVPN’s study, there are more millennials playing video games for longer periods of time than Gen Z users doing the same thing. ExpressVPN found that more millennials admitted to playing video games for an entire day than Gen Z gamers; 6% of millennials said they’d done this, while only 3% of Gen Z gamers admitted to it.
Intriguingly, the number of gamers who have done this appears to go up as the age groups ascend; 9% of 36 to 45-year-olds said they’d gamed for a whole day, while an astonishing 18% of those aged between 46 and 55 said they’d done so. It’s not clear which games the older gamers in the study were actually playing, unfortunately, so we don’t know what folks in that age group are spending their time with.
Interestingly enough, that age group actually plays games for longer than 24 hours just as often as it does for 2-4 hours. We have to wonder exactly what the older folks are doing when they play games; 24 hours seems like an excessive amount of time to spend playing video games. Perhaps they’re enjoying marathon sessions of Civilization VI? Maybe they’re getting hopelessly addicted to Candy Crush Saga? Without further data, it’s impossible to tell, sadly.
When do gamers actually play these games?
You might imagine that most gamers would tend to play games around nighttime, when they don’t have any other obligations. However, this isn’t true for everyone. The ExpressVPN survey found that Gen Z gamers are less likely to play games at night than others. It’s interesting that this is the case; millennials may have work obligations that cause them to play at later hours, but Gen Z users are younger, and teens and young adults tend to stay up longer and sleep less than older people.
Despite this, many gamers also report that they game even though they know it might result in negative consequences such as lost sleep or impaired ability to work. It’s easy to imagine how the kind of 24-hour gaming marathons that older folks appear to have could interfere with regular sleep cycles and other important biological processes, so it’s important that we pay closer attention to how gamers are gaming and how that affects their biology in future.
Does longer gaming time mean you’re addicted?
Of course, playing a game for a 24-hour session doesn’t mean you’re addicted. There could be all kinds of extenuating or additional circumstances that lead you to play a game for this long. MMORPG players, for instance, have been known to play for an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes to the detriment of their physical health, let alone their mental health.
It is worth saying, though, that the ExpressVPN study points to data showing that one in five respondents said they wanted to spend less time playing video games overall. That suggests that although gamers don’t generally tend to feel like they’re addicted, they might feel like they’re spending more time on games than they should be. That data isn’t broken down by age, so we don’t know how many people aged between 46 and 55 feel that way, but given that many of them appear to be spending an entire day playing games, some of them might well feel like that’s too much.
In the study, 30% of gamers say that they think about video games all the time, even when they’re not playing them. 58% of gamers say they continue to play despite what ExpressVPN calls “possible negative consequences”, and 47% of gamers admit that they lie to their loved ones about how much time they spend playing video games. While playing games for a long time certainly doesn’t constitute addiction, it does seem, from the ExpressVPN study, that many gamers have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with the hobby and that this might be something we should all be monitoring about ourselves more closely.