Presentation at multi.player 2011 by Ruth Festl, Michael Scharkow and Thorsten Quandt (University of Hohenheim). Full title: "The social fabric of virtual life: Findings from a large-scale multi-level research project."
This was an amazing talk, just from the scale of the research they had done. They surveyed 50, 000 people in Germany to see how much time they spent playing games and what kinds of games they played. This was the preliminary results of those surveys, so much more analysis to do. From that 50, 000, they formed a panel of 5000, 4500 gamers and 500 non-gamers, who are going to get to repeat the question annually to get some idea of the changing situation. Those are just huge numbers. The funding must have been enormous.
Apparently out of the 50,000 people, 25.2% were identified as gamers (although I don't seem to have written down what their criteria for a gamer was, if it was mentioned). Apparently that's lower than the figure given by the industry, but still quite large. They divided gaming situations into solo, online and co-located, which I think is quite a useful way of dividing them (particularly looking at the social aspects). They then created a lovely venn diagram with their gamer population divided by which types of game they played (out of the solo, online and co-located).
The biggest chunk of players sat in only three sectors (which of course I didn't write down). One large section (17% or so I think?) played games of all three types. They had nicknamed these the omnivores, and believed they were probably the 'hardcore' gamers. They had done further analysis of the age breakdown of these individuals, which was also interesting.
Almost as an aside, they felt that the panic about how long people were spending playing games was an overreaction, especially if the values were compared to other media consumption (e.g. TV). Apparently the average for TV consumption is 7-8 hours per day, so gamers look quite good in comparison! (My question is do these people not work?!!)