According to video game research group Quantic Foundry gamers grow less competitive with age. Specifically, following a survey of gamers from the ages of 15 though 55, the team found that competition was a stronger motivator for younger players than older players, especially those over the age of 35.
Unbeknownst to many, the average video gamer is around 33 years old. They are the first generation of people to have always had video games around, and are thus they’ve aged with the medium. But their motivations to play video games have also changed over time, and they’re generally less concerned with competition than their younger peers.
There are likely a lot of factors that cause this, but the researchers suggest that older gamers have more to do outside of games, and so they spend less overall time gaming, and therefor have deflated motivations for playing a specific game. There are, of course, lots of outliers, such as professional gamers, designers, and any number of other people who have made video games a focal point in their lives.
The idea that gamers become less competitive over time, at least broadly speaking, could also have some interesting implications for child development. Do kids become better able to cooperate as they socialize more? Is there a social reason why younger gamers are more competitive than older gamers? Perhaps the decrease in competitiveness is less a factor of aging out of such motivations, and more a factor of simply being more accustomed to being less competitive. After all, there is a pretty big gap between 15 and 35 year olds, and younger gamers are coming of age in a rather different time, and after a rather different education, than their older gaming peers did.
It’s a very interesting issue that needs more research, and its one that educators should actually be paying attention to, as it could grant some insights into how younger gamers think, and how those patterns are formed in the first place.