New Demographics Show Gamers Are Getting Older

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New Demographics Show Gamers Are Getting Older

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Despite the stereotype that videogames are a hobby exclusive to teenage boys, a new report from the Entertainment Software Association claims otherwise.

Most striking is the ESA's claim that the average gamer is now 37 years old. This theoretical person has been playing games for 12 years and there is a pretty solid chance that he might actually be a she.

42 percent of gamers are of the female persuasion, the report claims, and lady gamers make up "a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (13 percent)."

Additionally, people beyond the age of 50 are increasingly turning to games for entertainment. 29 percent of the elder population now enjoy virtual worlds, a vast increase over the 9 percent of 50-plus year olds with the same affinity the ESA found in 1999.

Of course, this should be come as no surprise if one considers the increasing popularity of videogames among the general populace. The ESA's report claims that 72 percent of American households now play games, a figure that directly led to the gaming industry raking in over $25 billion in 2010.

By comparison, ticket sales for Hollywood films only managed $10.46 billion.

So why the sudden turn toward gaming as the de facto hobby among the majority of the population? I see a number of factors in play here. In the recent past, Nintendo's Wii console made the previously baffling world of console games palatable to nascent gamers, while at the same time cellular phones (and in particular Apple's iPhone) finally came into their own as gaming systems.

It also helps that even those who spend 5 minutes a day playing a copy of Angry Birds that cost less than a cup of coffee can call themselves "gamers."

Combine those factors with the media's sudden love for all things "geek," and gamers lose a lot of that social pariah status they've been traditionally saddled with. When everyone is doing something, it becomes "the thing to do" by default.

No doubt the game industry as a whole is giddy about its ever-expanding playerbase, but I'm sure this is going to stick in the craw of those traditional gamers who reveled in how "unique" their hobby made them. Would any of you like to rage at the geriatrics suddenly ruining gaming with their osteoporosis and inability to understand modern music?

Source: ESA
(Image)

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great now the elderly will start talking crap on CoD.

Also the amount of money hardly equals the amount of people. Games cost $60 and movies about $10 or so. So the math deff adds up in favor of movies and I hesitate to think what the ESA considers "games". All in all though it was bound to happen as gen x takes over and gen y is more tech saavy than any gen before it.

Interesting. While its cool to note that video gaming has become something of the norm, I think the term Gamer or the qualifications that come with it are still something a bit separate. Everyone uses cell phones these days but we don't have a special word for them. I know plenty of people who watch movies, but i also know movie going enthusiasts, who see many more than me and my friends combined and own tons of DVD's. I just feel the statistics are misleading (as the often are) in this case. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that the idea of a video game is becoming comfortable with lots of people, but I don't particularly enjoy generalizations.

the geek shall inherit the earth

that used to be a fun little play on words

recaptcha keeps giving me stuff that arent words or numbers

No suprise here.
People getting older...yeah, that tends to happen.
Was it expected that people who grew up as gamers were just going to stop at some point?
Or was it that people were suprised about their older relatives owning a wii?

Woo! I'm still below the average gamer age! Go me! Time to do my ha-cha-cha dance!

Ha cha cha! Ha cha ch-*CRASH*

OW! My bum hip!

See, I don't count people who just play Angry Birds or Farmville as gamers, so these studies will never mean much to me. People who enjoy little games to pass the time are quite different than people who enjoy it as a hobby.

I can't really sit down with someone who plays Angry Birds and have a video games discussion, other than maybe, "Oh man, those black birds are awesome, don't you think? And that one level, boy it was hard. Yep... good talk."

Those kind of casual gamers usually don't care about the medium any more than non-gamers do; to them it's just a nice distraction to pass the time and nothing more.

Palademon:
No suprise here.
People getting older...yeah, that tends to happen.
Was it expected that people who grew up as gamers were just going to stop at some point?

Exactly. I got the nintendo entertainment system when I was 6 years old. I've been buying various videogames ever since. Thus, i'm steadily pushing the demographic older with each year. People six years older than me were rollin' some odessey and atari.

37?
Woah.
That's like.... ancient. Really old ( no offense to those Escapists who are of that age group :3!).
But i think this isn't bad news. Cause nobody likes stereotypes, right?

More people need to play Game Dev Story and find out how the gaming industry really works!

Hey, I am happy as long as the average age of gamers keeps ahead of my real age. ;)

I have to say it's kinda sad seeing something you had to defend as a legitimate source of entertainment becoming a socially accepted part of life. i guess it's like seeing your kid grow up.
Though I have to say that it's awesome to be part of the baking-point generation.

Clearly this demographic did not include the majority of halo and CoD players on XBL

In the words of Papillion:

"Still alive, you fuckers!"

That's right. Some of us are so old, we quote MOVIES, not VG SOUNDTRACKS.

The only way to sound older is if you're quoting the book. Yes, I've actually touched one of those (that wasn't a manual).

Earnest Cavalli:

No doubt the game industry as a whole is giddy about its ever-expanding playerbase, but I'm sure this is going to stick in the craw of those traditional gamers who reveled in how "unique" their hobby made them. Would any of you like to rage at the geriatrics suddenly ruining gaming with their osteoporosis and inability to understand modern music?

Actually, I'm way more interested in finding the evacuation tube who futzed up Discs of Tron at Ground Kontrol, because right now it totally spazzes out when you ride the left or right side of the screen. You think there's an app for that?

So your telling me that gamers who whine and complain and all that other bullshit have a high probability of being a grown-ass man?

I wouldn't exactly call that a good thing.

Owlslayer:
37?
Woah.
That's like.... ancient. Really old ( no offense to those Escapists who are of that age group :3!).
But i think this isn't bad news. Cause nobody likes stereotypes, right?

Are you being really serious? Really? I just. . . well, maybe you're a teenager? My dad turns a healthy 50 this year, seems as young as ever to me!

robert022614:
Also the amount of money hardly equals the amount of people. Games cost $60 and movies about $10 or so. So the math deff adds up in favor of movies and I hesitate to think what the ESA considers "games". All in all though it was bound to happen as gen x takes over and gen y is more tech saavy than any gen before it.

With the ESA having such a broad definition of "games", I think you may find the money spent per purchase may actually be less with gaming.

Many couples go to the movie theater every weekend; spending from $20, upwards of $40, on each movie.

Meanwhile, I think the gamers who are actually willing to pay $60 for most releases are in the minority. Most will either wait for the price drop, or for a used copy.

I know in my case, the last time I paid more than $20 for a game was when I pre-ordered Portal 2, and the last time before that was when I pre-ordered the Orange Box. I've bought many games since then, but I bargain-hunt meticulously.

UNHchabo:

robert022614:
Also the amount of money hardly equals the amount of people. Games cost $60 and movies about $10 or so. So the math deff adds up in favor of movies and I hesitate to think what the ESA considers "games". All in all though it was bound to happen as gen x takes over and gen y is more tech saavy than any gen before it.

With the ESA having such a broad definition of "games", I think you may find the money spent per purchase may actually be less with gaming.

Many couples go to the movie theater every weekend; spending from $20, upwards of $40, on each movie.

Meanwhile, I think the gamers who are actually willing to pay $60 for most releases are in the minority. Most will either wait for the price drop, or for a used copy.

I know in my case, the last time I paid more than $20 for a game was when I pre-ordered Portal 2, and the last time before that was when I pre-ordered the Orange Box. I've bought many games since then, but I bargain-hunt meticulously.

You have a good point there I completely disregarded all the $0.99 and other low price games on cellphones. If those count then games are probably way ahead of movies as I myself have about 30 games that were free on the android marketplace so you have to think of all of those not contributing to the sales numbers. Also where do you spend $40.00 for two people at a movie?!?! I understand if you are talking about popcorn, soda, etc, but i think they are talking about ticket sales.

littlewisp:

Owlslayer:
37?
Woah.
That's like.... ancient. Really old ( no offense to those Escapists who are of that age group :3!).
But i think this isn't bad news. Cause nobody likes stereotypes, right?

Are you being really serious? Really? I just. . . well, maybe you're a teenager? My dad turns a healthy 50 this year, seems as young as ever to me!

well, i was half-joking, i suppose :D
I wanted to say that it seems to me like an old age for being a gamer. But that's just how it seems to me. But i think i know why that is: i live in a former Soviet country. There weren't a lot of videogames and such stuff at that time, so the folks who are now in their 40s didn't get their hands on such stuff. I think the good stuff came to my country when we got out of that damn soviet thingy (like 1992. Try to get some American tech into a SSSR country... pretty difficult). Yay for western technology !

So yeah. Where i live, gamers are mostly young.

Irridium:
So your telling me that gamers who whine and complain and all that other bullshit have a high probability of being a grown-ass man?

I wouldn't exactly call that a good thing.

I admit; I laughed. Well played, sir.

OT: Not surprising at all to me. Most of the reason I got into games in the first place is my Dad (who's fifty-six this year) introducing me to them. He was also the one who was super keen for us to get a PS3 with 3D games on it. He's a technology geek, who likes seeing the graphics and tech improve with every year.

I should get him Skyrim for Christmas, now that I think of it.

Not suprising, but good to hear. Makes you think though, I can imagine by the time our generation gets into their 60s and 70s the young kids won't even get a look in cause grandad keeps hogging the PS12.

Double post, damn internet. Please ignore.

Is this a surprise? People that have been playing video games since the Atari are aging? Color me shocked.

SoopaSte123:
See, I don't count people who just play Angry Birds or Farmville as gamers, so these studies will never mean much to me. People who enjoy little games to pass the time are quite different than people who enjoy it as a hobby.

I can't really sit down with someone who plays Angry Birds and have a video games discussion, other than maybe, "Oh man, those black birds are awesome, don't you think? And that one level, boy it was hard. Yep... good talk."

Those kind of casual gamers usually don't care about the medium any more than non-gamers do; to them it's just a nice distraction to pass the time and nothing more.

Agreed. Have I played angry birds, yeah. In fact I was going for three stars on all levels on the original edition of it. But the novelty wears off fast and then it becomes something I might do to pass the time on a long bus journey, maybe.

And it also doesn't require a lot of effort to work out that of course "gamers" are getting older. I have been a gamer since around the time the nes came out. Since then I have had...

let me think

nes
gameboy
mastersystem
megadrive
saturn
playstation
playstation 2
psp
xbox 360
ps3

in that order with very little cross over except for now. Still have PS3 and xbox.

What was I saying, oh yeah most "gamers" are going to be people that grew up playing them all their life. But then again i'd be willing to bet that just as many gamers are also teens. Shit my sister is 13 and she has more consoles than I do.

What was the point I was trying to make again? For that matter what was the point of the survey I swear the things people get paid to waste money on for a living.

robert022614:
great now the elderly will start talking crap on CoD.

Grumble...old people...grumble.

Really, I don't see what the big fuss is about. it's not like older people are going to suddenly start teabagging people in CoD. No, you should be more worried about the younger than 15 crowd pulling stupid stunts.

Phase_9:

robert022614:
great now the elderly will start talking crap on CoD.

Grumble...old people...grumble.

Really, I don't see what the big fuss is about. it's not like older people are going to suddenly start teabagging people in CoD. No, you should be more worried about the younger than 15 crowd pulling stupid stunts.

yea that was sort of a joke.....anyway you never know grandpa just might do it.

robert022614:

Phase_9:

robert022614:
great now the elderly will start talking crap on CoD.

Grumble...old people...grumble.

Really, I don't see what the big fuss is about. it's not like older people are going to suddenly start teabagging people in CoD. No, you should be more worried about the younger than 15 crowd pulling stupid stunts.

yea that was sort of a joke.....anyway you never know grandpa just might do it.

Hell, I wish my grandpa would. It would certainly make the retirement home much more interesting...

robert022614:

UNHchabo:

robert022614:
Also the amount of money hardly equals the amount of people. Games cost $60 and movies about $10 or so. So the math deff adds up in favor of movies and I hesitate to think what the ESA considers "games". All in all though it was bound to happen as gen x takes over and gen y is more tech saavy than any gen before it.

With the ESA having such a broad definition of "games", I think you may find the money spent per purchase may actually be less with gaming.

Many couples go to the movie theater every weekend; spending from $20, upwards of $40, on each movie.

Meanwhile, I think the gamers who are actually willing to pay $60 for most releases are in the minority. Most will either wait for the price drop, or for a used copy.

I know in my case, the last time I paid more than $20 for a game was when I pre-ordered Portal 2, and the last time before that was when I pre-ordered the Orange Box. I've bought many games since then, but I bargain-hunt meticulously.

You have a good point there I completely disregarded all the $0.99 and other low price games on cellphones. If those count then games are probably way ahead of movies as I myself have about 30 games that were free on the android marketplace so you have to think of all of those not contributing to the sales numbers. Also where do you spend $40.00 for two people at a movie?!?! I understand if you are talking about popcorn, soda, etc, but i think they are talking about ticket sales.

I was counting popcorn, soda, etc in my calculations, but I realized after I posted that you probably meant only the money that goes to the studios, not the retailers. :)

Still, for a couple that's around $20-25 a week, depending on the theater, compared with the $20 that I've spent in the last month buying three games.

Well I would assume that since gaming doesn't prevent aging, this was bound to happen.

Mind you, it would be nice to not have to worry as much about 12 year olds screaming over the headset mic anymore (sometimes to people in the background).

I know the guy in the picture. He kicks ass at pokemon.

randomfox:
Is this a surprise? People that have been playing video games since the Atari are aging? Color me shocked.

Well, I think the interesting part is not that gamers are aging, but that gamers are aging while continuing to be gamers. We like a lot of things in childhood that we later lose interest in as we age. These results indicate that video games can appeal to all ages, and that the medium is further outgrowing its "just for kids" image.

(Also, apologies for picking on you, randomfox. Many other people are making the same comment, and I don't mean to single you out; yours just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess.)

Phase_9:

robert022614:
great now the elderly will start talking crap on CoD.

Grumble...old people...grumble.

Really, I don't see what the big fuss is about. it's not like older people are going to suddenly start teabagging people in CoD. No, you should be more worried about the younger than 15 crowd pulling stupid stunts.

Not in COD most likely but they do in BFBC2... Oh wait im 40 and teabagged some punk kid.

In twenty years, the average gamer will be 57...because all of you will be older too! Seriously, the average gamer age was 34 just 3 years ago...

Yeah, it's sort of sad, but when i hear about how the median age of gamers is increasing, I can't help but think that it's becoming more evident that video games - as a lifestyle - is turning out to be a generational trend. Who knows how long the video games industry will survive when us gamers are in our 80 or 90's if any of us will live that long. The mentioned article reinforces that notion for me.

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