By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: The Interactive Australia 2007 report, released today by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) in conjunction with Bond University, has revealed the growing popularity of gaming among females, families and older consumers.

The report, which analysed the nature of the Australian gaming market and the typical Australian gamer, highlighted gamers potential impact on the retail market, with the 3,386 individuals polled demonstrating the potential boon retailers can expect as the gaming industry grows.

In a survey given to 1,606 households, a question was posed as to how each respondent would spend $1,000, with a monetary amount allocated to each item of interest. From all products listed, the LCD TV came out on top with $416 on average being allocated, the next most popular product, the DVD recorder, averaged only $163. A next generation gaming console such as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii, ranked in at third with $101 on average being dedicated to it.

“There is a clear connection between the retail growth in consumer electronics and the growth in gaming in general,” said Bond University associate professor of communication and media, Jeff Brand, at today’s conference.

“As consumer electronics become smarter and of a higher quality, more and more people are finding the worlds that they represent [in video games] quite beautiful and should accordingly be rendered in all of their beauty – in high definition and high quality.

“I think the market will grow quite sizably in the near future,” he said.

The report also found that the average age of the typical Australian gamer has now increased to 28, up from 24 in 2005, and that women have become the fastest growing segment of gamers, with 41 per cent of gamers now women.

Seniors are now also registering at eight per cent of the gaming population.

It was also revealed that 79 per cent of Australian households now possess a gaming device, while parents seem to be increasingly embracing gaming as a fun and potentially educational tool, with 77 per cent of parents playing computer games with children – indeed 35 per cent of gamers are now parents.

“Parents are increasingly playing computer and video games themselves and with their children,” said IEAA CEO, Chris Hanlon.

“They value the skills kids learn through interactive games and see the benefits both socially and educationally.”

An increasing focus on family gaming is now well and truly in motion with the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2 (previous generation console) pushing the more affordable and interactive social gaming titles, the expected trend now is for gaming to become a more accepted form of family entertainment.

Conversely, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are looking to enhance the more traditional core gaming experience, with games now featuring greater levels of player emersion and enhanced graphical capabilities, appealing more to the older players and helping to increase the average spend, driving the top-end of the market.