As the industry becomes more mainstream with every passing day, the demographic begins to look like the movie-going or concert-going audience.
In new findings released today by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 72% of American households play video games and 82% of gamers are adults. …just as a frame of reference, I'm willing to bet that number was about 10% (if not lower) when I was a kid in the '80s. …it wasn't that long ago, damnit.
Anyway, such statistics came from the 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, and many of the numbers are a little surprising and plenty encouraging: 42% of gamers are women, and women over the age of 18 represent more than 1/3 of the overall game-playing population. Furthermore, as an indication of the rapidly rising digital market, purchases of digital-related content (full games, add-on packs, mobile apps, social network stuff, etc.) accounted for 24% of all game sales in 2010, generating over $5.9 billion in revenue.
Yes, it's a new age. Said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA:
"Our industry's innovative titles are reaching new consumers in broader, deeper and more-engaging ways. Technological advancements and terrific entertainment experiences in our industry make it possible for people of all ages to enjoy games at home or on the go, and the creativity of our developers and publishers leads to an ever-expanding variety of video games to choose from in both digital and physical formats."
As for the parents, the survey found that 45% of parents say they play games with their children on a weekly basis, and 9 out of 10 parents pay attention to the content their children play. 68% believe that playing games provides mental stimulation or education, 57% believe games encourage their family to spend time together, and 54% say games help their kids stay in contact with their friends. Here are a few other stats:
The only thing to bear in mind is that when it comes to such surveys, the definition of "gamer" is pretty vague. Most won't label those who tap away on their phone when they're bored as gamers, nor will they say those who play a half-hour of Solitaire on the computer before bed are gamers. I think the bottom line is this-
If you stood in front of a GameStop for a day and tallied everyone who went in, I'll bet you a hundred gajillion dollars that women will not make up 42% of the customers. In fact, I'll bet a fair sum that it isn't over 10%. …it's all in how you interpret the word, "gamer."