The average online gamer is a 23-year old student with a yearly income of $50,000, research shows.

A report by Denmark-based analyst firm Game Research also revealed online gamers will typically use a six-month old computer and a 512kbps Internet connection.

The study examined the online-gaming habits of US, UK, Canadian and Nordic gamers.

It showed that gamers are “highly troubled” by cheating no matter what games they play, and gamers abandon troublesome games – being less loyal to the titles they play than they historically have been.

The report concludes: “The challenge is to make gamers more loyal by expanding the social aspects of playing in and around the game by using unorthodox methods, such as betting.”

Hardcore online gamers escape into the alternate gamers universe, and want to meet new friends there. That alternate universe is of growing importance – almost 50 per cent of gamers said they had met friends online who they then met in real life.

Other statistics: 95 per cent of online gamers are between 15-31 years old, 95 per cent are male; 75 per cent of respondents have played online for between 1-5 years; 96 per cent have been online for over a year; 64 per cent have a 256Kbps or better Internet connection; 75 per cent of online gamers have purchased goods online within the last six months; and 95 per cent have a less than three-year old computer.

Action games are the most popular genre, with Counter Strike being favourite, followed by Quake. 54 per cent of online gamers play from 1-12 hours online, 6 per cent play for over 30 hours per week and 90 per cent state they play too much online.