Playing out or Playstation? New data reveals the truth about Brits’ balance between virtual and real-life activities

What Mobile
July 11, 2019

  • New data reveals adult Brits prefer virtual games over real-life equivalents
  • Average UK adult spends 3.5 hours per week playing video games
  • More than 15% of gamers don’t feel fit or skilful enough to participate in real life
  • One in ten say their child spends 11 to 15 hours a week playing virtual games

New research has revealed that Brits are more eager to play sports and games virtually, rather than try their hand at the real thing.

The study, conducted by TeamSport Karting, the UK’s largest indoor karting operator, examined our changing relationship with the joypad, and how our love of virtual competition compares with our willingness to try the real thing.

The results show that Brits much prefer participating in activities like football, racing and shooting in a digital environment with 43% admitting they’d feel more comfortable with a joypad in their hands, compared to 36% who’d prefer to do it in real life.

Just under half of adult Brits (49%) say they play a virtual football game, such as FIFA, for at least an hour a week, while just 36% play football ‘IRL’ (‘in real life’).

More than half (52%) enjoy playing shooting games from the comfort of the couch, like Fortnite, but just three in ten (30%) participate in a real life equivalent like laser quest or paintballing. A similar number (52%) play virtual racing games, either on their phone or console, but a much smaller number have a real life need for speed – just 28% say they participate in physical racing pursuits like karting.

Of those who prefer virtual gaming, 63% believe they are more fun, while 37% say they are not skilful or fit enough to participate in those activities in real life. Does this preference for virtual gaming start at a young age?

The study also asked British parents about their children’s gaming habits, including the types of games their kids play, and their own perceptions of the hobby.

Just under half of parents surveyed say their children spend between 4 and 10 hours a week playing video games, while a quarter limit gaming time to between 1 to 3 hours. One in ten say their child spends 11 to 15 hours a week playing virtual games – potentially more than 2 hours a day.

Just under half (47%) of parents say they’re happy with the amount of time their child plays video games because they monitor it, though more than one in eight (13%) say they feel their child doesn’t do other physical activities due to video games or are concerned that gaming prevents them from having real life experiences.

Ollwyn Moran a Neurological Developmental Therapist, and CEO and Founder of COGNIKIDSadvises parents to encourage children to children to get a balance of screen and physical activity; “The brain needs input from movement in order to grow, develop and map itself well.

“Children that spend all their time focusing on a screen and looking forward do not develop their peripheral vision, which is required for tasks such as driving and cycling and walking!

And there is nothing better than face to face interactions for building empathy and connectedness with one’s peers. It is great to see activities like football, laser quest and go-karting that is offering the fun and excitement of video games but with the holistic approach for children, getting them moving, planning, thinking strategically, multitasking and working with others.”

Dominic Gaynor, Managing Director of TeamSport Indoor Karting, said: “Our research highlights Brits’ relationship with gaming and real activities, and suggests that we are more inclined to take part in a virtual game or sport – rather than experience something in real life.

“But as games become more advanced and as esports continues to grow in popularity, adults and children are discovering that several of the skills they develop while playing video games are in fact transferable to the real thing.

“In fact, many of our karters find the virtual skillsthey’ve developed playing racing games adaptable and useful to competing on the track.”

Would a gamer ever stand a chance on a real-life racing track against a professional driver? Discover how games and gamers are disrupting sport:

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