Dear ESA, We're Going To Need You To Define "Gamer"
For a while now, I've been reading the latest ESA results and wondering what they actually mean.
It's all sorts of interesting to say that 47% of all "gamers" are female (which, as all the avid gamers know, absolutely is not true), and that the average age of a "gamer" is 30 (which probably is true). Such numbers promote intriguing discussion. I'll go with that.
But until we get an operational definition for the term "gamer," we can't draw any conclusions from those statistics, now can we? What's the definition? Is it someone who spends a certain amount? Plays a certain amount of time? Or merely someone who, if asked, goes, "yeah, I'm a gamer"? Someone who plays a few games on Facebook or their mobile phone while waiting for a bus isn't a "gamer." That's like saying I'm a race car driver because I drove to the store yesterday.
I know the ESA wants to prove to everyone that gaming is mainstream and that it doesn't cater specifically to males anymore, and that the industry is quite obviously getting more popular with time. But if you hang around GameStop all day, you'll know the numbers are skewed. You'll know that in truth, although I am well aware that more women are playing than ever before, this is still a hobby dominated by males. So until we can understand how the ESA defined "gamer" before racking up these stats, I don't think we can say anything definitive.
Bottom line: Use common sense. Go online with a mic. Pick most any game. Tell me what percentage of voices you hear are male. Go on any game forum or community anywhere online. See how many women are on there. GameFAQs did a poll recently asking if you were male or female, and I believe the end result was 95% male. As much as I'd love to see more women playing games on an avid basis, it just isn't happening that often.
8/1/2012 12:25:44 PM Ben Dutka