Study: Gamers of 1986 Less Likely to Go To College

A researcher at Oxford University has conducted a survey that comes to a conclusion that may agitate gamers. Mark Taylor, who conducted the research for the Department of Sociology, asked 17,200 people who were 16 in 1986 about their level of education, their current career and extra-curricular activities during their teens. Taylor concluded that there was a correlation between gaming and a "decreased likelihood" of going to college. Around 19 percent of male gamers were likely to go to college, compared to 24 percent for those who did not play games. The survey also found that 14 percent of females enjoyed games during their teen years, compared to 20 percent who didn’t play games.

While Taylor believes gaming impacted higher education, it did not appear to impact careers. Thinq, who uncovered the study, asked Taylor if he believed similar findings would be found in studies covering more recent years, since gaming was not as popular or mainstream in 1986 as it is now.

"It’s difficult to say, as we have no data on kids who are growing up now," he said, adding that it would be "completely insane to say that you’re going to see exactly the same results replicated across time," and that he would be "very surprised" to see similar results for modern teenagers. "Not many [people] were playing video games [in 1986]. The picture is completely different nowadays. I wouldn’t like to make that generalisation at all."

Taylor also told Thinq that he considers himself a serious gamer. He plays around 4 hours a week with his college friends and peers.

"Education is not just about piece of paper you get at the end of the exercise. If people get something out of gaming then that’s fantastic. While playing games might not make you any better at your English A Levels, it might make you more interested in programming."

The most important thing Taylor told Thinq is that he is concerned about his findings being taken out of context because he included extra-curricular activities such as movies, going to museums and gaming. The study, he says, represents how all of these activities can affect people’s likelihood of going to college, but that a major finding is that "it doesn’t bear out further on people’s lives," such as what they go on to do in their careers.

Source: Thinq

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  1. 0
    Stefan Hall says:

    As I was 16 in 1986, was and still am a gamer, and basically spent a good chunk of my adult life in higher ed, including completing a PhD that involved video games, I’d like to see the questions used to generate this data.  Specifically, I wondering what sort of socioeconomic variables might influence the results of this poll.  Also, since this was presumably conducted in the UK, would the results differ in other nations?

    Stefan Hall, PhD
    Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies
    8 Dana Hall
    Defiance College
    701 N. Clinton St.
    Defiance, OH  43512

  2. 0
    cpu64 says:


    The only reason why I went to college, and got a degree in 3D computer animation was because I played videogames back in the 80s.

    Did I ever get a job in the industry? Not really. But I decided what I wanted to do in life at 10 years of age and I’m almost there today. Like a boss!

    I just need a job to finish it off.


  3. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Why would this agitate gamers? He explains the limitations, that it’s correlation only, that it can’t be generalized, etc. Seems like he did about the best study he could with the material he had. That’s one data point for future meta research. That’s about it.

  4. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Given the statement about it not impacting careers, it is also possible that gamers of the erra were more likely to be self educated and self motivated, moving on to careers via merits instead of degree.

    I can recall my previous company, we had programmers who had been gamers in their youth and were self taught.

  5. 0
    Zerodash says:

    I wonder if his data can help determine whether gaming caused this drop in college attendance, or if low-ambition people were more likely to play games anyway.  Regardless, this study will be taken out of context very soon, if it hasn’t already.  Fox News, I’m looking at you.

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