Video gaming is no longer a niche activity enjoyed by a few away from everyone else – the $30-billion gaming industry is solidly in the mainstream and growing fast.

In 2017, more people watched esport’s “League of Legends” finals than the US’s football and baseball professional championships combined.

But many still hold onto old misconceptions about gamers: that they are introverted and their pass time does nothing for their mental wellbeing.

Alienware, a hardware manufacturer and a member of the gaming community, partnered with Researchscape to conduct an online survey of 5 763 video game players from 11 countries on gaming habits, attitudes and the wider gaming community. To qualify for the study, respondents had to play videogames on desktops or laptops and had to play for at least an hour a week.

The results are definitive, said Chris Buchanan, Dell EMC’s director of end-user computing – Africa.

“The whole idea of gamers as being antisocial and lazy is not true at all,” he says. “Gamers are very social, motivated and community-focused. They love the passtime and some take it seriously enough to do it professionally. That demands a lot of focus and dedication.

“The survey results show that definitely: gamers are vibrant, love social activities and enjoy what they do. It’s a truly passionate lifestyle that more and more people are embracing.”

The survey results confirm that today’s gamer is not the stereotypical teen loner playing in their parents’ basement.

According to those surveyed, fewer than one in 10 feel either “judged,” “childish” or “embarrassed” being called a “gamer” (85 to 9% each). Instead, they consider “gamer” a positive label and feel “fun” (35%), “cool” (29%), or “excited” (26%) as a result.

Gamers are not shy about sharing their love of gaming with others and inviting others to share in the enjoyment, with 27% having introduced three to four friends or family members to gaming, and 25% having introduced five or more.

People are increasingly turning to videogames for relaxation (60% of respondents), passing the time (51%) and relieving stress (49%). A little under half (40%) of gamers are not concerned with their skill level, yet ironically, no one likes to identify as a “noob” (gamer code for the new kid on the block).

Just under 6% identified as noobs, while 14% consider themselves to be just beyond noob level; 40% identify as casual gamers; 25% as “pretty darn good”; and 8% feel they can compete with pro gamers.

Gaming doesn’t discriminate. When it comes to being matched with rival gamers, culture/ethnicity (8%), political views (7%), and sexual orientation (6%) are for the most part inconsequential to a player. What matters most is the other gamer’s skill level (40%).

Many gamers lead busy lives with many outside interests. When not gaming, their attention is on music (63%) and spending time with family (59%) or friends (55%). Travelling (50%) and reading and writing (46%) were also popular.

Close to four out of 10 survey respondents said that, because of gaming, they are more strategic thinkers (39%), have improved hand-eye coordination (37%) and increased reaction time (36%). Some even perceive that their teamwork (27%) and leadership (18%) skills have improved.

This aligns with research conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, which found teens who were regular gamers scored higher than average in math, reading and science on an international exam.