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ESA: Gamers Growing Up, Women Playing More

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 average game player is 37 years old, while the average game purchaser is 41 years old
  • Sixty-five percent of gamers play games with other gamers in person
  • More than half (55 percent) of gamers play games on their phones or handheld devices

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."

Tags: video games, gaming industry, gamers, esa

6/8/2011 10:16:21 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (38 posts)

maxpontiac
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 10:34:52 AM
Reply

Well, in the past few years, the only games my wife has actually wanted to watch was Heavy Rain and LA Noire.

I believe that there is an untapped demographic out there of non gaming women who love story rich cinematic experiences with high accessibility.

Here's to hoping more games like the aforementioned come out!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 10:40:46 AM

Yes, but she WATCHES.

What would it take for her to walk into a game store and buy a game to play herself?

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 10:57:29 AM

That's the million dollar question, Ben. Heavy Rain and LA Noire attracted her attention to the games due to the maturity of the stories. I don't see any reason why more games like this aren't available.

I also believe LA Noire is on to something with skip-able action levels. She actually hates shooting things, but doesn't mind looking for clues or engaging in dialogue while playing games. She will however, go watch a movie that has shoot outs.



Last edited by maxpontiac on 6/8/2011 11:00:58 AM

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Grimm_Chaos
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:24:17 AM

Well I have a friend and she's definitely what I'd consider a hardcore gamer even more so than some guys I know. But yet in still out of embarrassment she'll never set foot in a Gamestop and she generally hates the guys that gawk at her if she does. So she generally just uses Gamefly or swaps games with me or her boyfriend. If you saw her you'd never think even if someone payed you that she plays games.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:28:08 AM

I believe you are on to something Grimm.

I have a very good friend who has a hardcore gaming wife. When we all play together, most guys are not very nice to her at all.

Perhaps the male gamer is as much to blame.

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:55:26 AM

At Grimm and Max.

A lot of people wouldn't think that Adrianne Curry was a gamer at first glance.

I can totally understand why female gamers stay in hiding. I was playing Uncharted 2 online and wouldn't you have guessed it, there was a guy bad mouthing all the lower skilled players . He saying things like "you newbs are trash" and "so an so , why are you still here? You don't even get one kill a game".

I was thinking to myself, "For heaven sake, let people just enjoy the damn game!" Funny things is that I'm not at a particular high level on UC2 multiplayer but when I was placed on this guy's team, he never bad mouthed me. In fact he actually apologized for accidently killing me with a grenade. wierd..

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vicious54
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 12:38:06 PM

My fiance would play Resistance 2 multiplayer with me all the time. She would talk trash the whole time, it was a blast. With the way she looks no one would think she plays games.

Last edited by vicious54 on 6/8/2011 12:47:23 PM

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Highlander
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 10:42:32 AM
Reply

Well, perhaps we can start working on the persistent misconception that video games are for kids when 82% of gamers are *adults*?

::rolls eyes::

My wife got sucked into games by JRPGs, and loved Uncharted, so much so that even though she's not an action game person (or so she says) she worked her way through most of Uncharted without telling me. I think she was afraid she'd look foolish. Now she's as much a gamer as I am, although I still like action games more than her. Give her another Burnout Paradise though, and she'll be happy for weeks and weeks of game time...

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 10:50:40 AM

The adult stat is one I agree with, and one that should be put on billboards across the entire damn nation.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:00:12 AM

The average game player is 37 years old, while the average game purchaser is 41 years old

^^ Well gents, that statistic tells the tale for me. That age group rules!!

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Highlander
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:04:10 AM

Indeed Ben, it should be in 20 foot high letters....

Max, exactly, that age group rules, so why are games still focusing on the much younger gamers? Should there not be a greater focus on the kinds of games those 35-45 year old gamers grew up with?

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:26:17 AM

Well Highlander, common sense says yes. To me, it shows a flawed mindset that very few attempt to deviate from. We need more developers like Quantic Dream!

I personally point the finger at Call of Duty. It seems nearly everyone is more concerned with making the COD level of profit! I can understand why, but I do not agree with it all.

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Grimm_Chaos
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:30:21 AM

Actually @Highlander I disagree with that. Because if all games were focused on your age group there wouldn't be room for growth and development. Now trust me I'm not saying that games back in the 80's and 90's weren't awesome cuz they were.

BUT yet in still if Devs were stuck in the same time period things would eventually just become monotonous and predictable. Some game genres may even start to become synonymous with one another.

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Highlander
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:41:12 AM

Grimm,

I did not say that the game makers should abandon making games for younger gamers, I said that a greater focus was needed in making games for older gamers. Since the average age of a gamer is now in the 35-45 age bracket, focusing on making games for the 15-25 age group kind of ignores a large % of the potential buys, and you know what those 35-45 gamers have more money in their pockets.

However the way the industry is right now, there is next to no focus on making games that cater to gamers who grew up with gaming and are now 35-45 or older. Certain genre have all but died out. In any industry, you target your products at the different markets. Targeting a younger demographic is fine, but pointless if you lose focus on other demographic groups. Greater balance is required. It's not an all or nothing thing. I'm not asking for devs stuck in the past (and you can stop before you start harping on about age). I'm talking about devs producing games for all groups - I don't mean in a one game fit's all way, I mean by making separate games that are focused on different demographic groups.

Last edited by Highlander on 6/8/2011 11:43:01 AM

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 12:06:05 PM

@ Ben and Highlander

To think if the game industry recognized that majority of gamers were actually adults, what type of games would be created and how current genres might change to appeal to a more adult crowd? That's not to say that games that appeal to kids wouldn't have their place I'd just be all for more games that involved a mature level of intellect as much as a fun factor.

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't Sony that helped more mature games enter the console gaming industry when they introduced the first Playstation. Just kinda seemed that way.

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Highlander
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 12:15:50 PM

Indeed Shadowscorpio, Sony has always been more supportive of what I will call 'mature' games. Not games rated M for mature, but games that take a more mature approach . I hope you get the distinction. I don't consider a game mature if it's full of hyperviolence, swearing, coarse language and nudity. That's not mature, in the sense of people being mature and/or grown up. the game would be rated M for Mature because the industry recognizes that such games are unsuitable for kids, but it still doesn't make the game mature in the larger sense of the word.

Anyway, Sony has always been more behind that kind of more intellectual/mature/grown-up gaming than others. Not exclusively of course. But even so, I think that approach by Sony is one of the reasons I stuck with them.

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Teddie9
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 6:05:43 PM

@ Grimm

Sorry man but with the "average" fps that's already happened.

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Fane1024
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 9:31:16 PM

@ Grimm

I'm 40 and I have no use for old school game design, so don't assume all older gamers want retro-style games.

It wasn't until the PS2 (and its Emotion Engine) that console games attracted my interest. And I've been gaming since Pong.



Last edited by Fane1024 on 6/8/2011 9:34:46 PM

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Underdog15
Thursday, June 09, 2011 @ 9:36:24 AM

"BUT yet in still if Devs were stuck in the same time period things would eventually just become monotonous and predictable. Some game genres may even start to become synonymous with one another. "

CoD and it's effects on our generation. That is all.

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Dreno
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:00:14 AM
Reply

So by these statistics I would be a below "average" gamer as I'm not 37 years of age. Only 23. Wow.

And may girl is a little bit of a gamer. She mainly watches me play while she does her thing. But she'll play lbp and some other games from time to time.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:01:48 AM
Reply

Hmmmm,

I'm in GameStop an average of 4-5 times a week, and I only see about 1-2 women in there a month by their selves.

But I can't say whether they're actually buying for themselves, their kids, or somebody else).

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Highlander
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:04:32 AM

One word.

Amazon.

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Claire C
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 12:24:55 PM

I NEVER go to Gamestop. Like Highlander said, AMAZON!!! =D

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jimmyhandsome
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:38:53 AM
Reply

Girl "gamers" love Angry Birds on their iPhones. That doesn't mean they would sit down and play Killzone 3 with me, or try to defeat The Beast in inFAMOUS 2.

Example: My girlfriend has plenty of games on her iPhone, but doesn't give a rat's ass about any of the console games I play. In fact, she probably despises them because they distract me from "more important things" like spending time with her. Long story short, she'd probably be considered a "gamer" within this survey but she is anything but.

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 11:48:39 AM
Reply

Well, I am 40yrs old and am a part of the gaming pioneers group. It's hard to believe how far we've come. I have owned almost every system except for the PS1 and PS2 and yes I realize what a mistake that was!! I even bought the orignal Neo Geo with it's encyclopedia sized games! To funny! I remember reading an article from Nolan Bushnell in regards to female gaming. He knew way back then that in order to be king you had to appeal to women. This is why Myst and Sims are/were so HUGE! Women don't generally like committing violent acts. They are more cerebral and thoughtful. I think of woman as birds that glide gracefully through the air. I think of men as smart cavemen with clubs. That's the general stereotype I have affixed to myself and all men. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. LA Noire has done something special allowing shooting scenes to be skipped. Now all they need is a nice TV commercial during CSI (Insert City here) explaining this fact and they are on their way to even more Gigantic sales.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 6/8/2011 11:55:23 AM

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Claire C
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 12:23:06 PM
Reply

Yes, women play games...

Surprise!

=^.^=

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Gone
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 1:28:32 PM

Their favorite game to play is "Hard to get".

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Claire C
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 1:46:49 PM

Always. Hee hee. =D

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Ninja_WafflesXD
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 1:07:06 PM
Reply

Hmm...interesting article, although I don't think that the figure is correct for female gamers...at least not "serious" gamers.

However, surprisingly, I found that gaming is usually more popular with the younger females (e.g. around 18) than say, the older females. Maybe because they are still stuck in that frame of mind that gaming is for the socially-impaired or men only?? I dunno.

Just my 2 cents, although I have to say that I found a number of females in my college that play games, as in, PS3-type games and not iPhone-type games.
Take one of my friends for example, who is a complete girly-girl at heart, yet had a brief addiction for DMC4 when staying over at my house. Not just watching, but actively participating a.k.a PLAYING THE GAME lol^^

If anything, I'd say that it were the females who are harder on other females for playing games rather than the guys.
Most of my guy friends actually prefer that I am a gamer just simply because it gives us something to talk about when things get boring:)

I know I love a good Xbox 360 vs. PS3 debate ;)

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Godslim
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 1:53:22 PM
Reply

well im 21 and enjoy games and so does my girlfriend.....she does go out and buy games and was just playing dc universe hehe.....she loves it

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 2:04:22 PM
Reply

These stats are really misleading...

When 55% of the surveyed play on their phones or handhelds that's not not a gamer. Ok handelds yes but not those who play on phones.

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RadioHeader
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 3:10:00 PM
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"The average game player is 37 years old, while the average game purchaser is 41 years old"

When I got back into gaming I remember walking into the shop for a PS2 - at 22 years of age and thinking maybe I'm getting too old for this. Fastforward 10 years and somehow I'm younger than the average gamer. Rock on!!

I'm never gonna quit. TVs are so boring without consoles hooked up to them.

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mindmurderer69
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 5:48:08 PM

the only thing i got in my way of gaming is work. thats why dev focus more on the kids, they can pump out game after game and the kids have all summer to keep occupied. me i gotta choose which game will i play because sadly i don't have time to try every game in the world anymore. i love rpg's but its hard to get the time to sit down and fully immerse myself for 200+ hrs. plus the fact of everyone else wanting to get on to play too. and granted my lady likes to play games more of the vintage kind we grew up with, and the reason...the people that have the immature qualities of yelling constantly in the mic not even at someone just yelling, its a turn off. or yelling at her because she is just learning the controls n such. game devs should definatly work on games that focus on the group that has been around since the beginning. maybe even creating some 21+ games that we can fully enjoy

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Darwin1967
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 5:33:46 PM
Reply

I absolutely love the mystery most guys find around the elusive female gamer. We are out there and in force I might add! Most of us keep to ourselves for good reason. The stigma of 'gamer' is hard enough for guys...for a female its' down right akin to having typhoid. My friends and I enjoy all genre of games. From shooters to RPGs. Be we a PS3 or 360 owner, we don't play fan favorites, we're hardcore in our love of video games and make no apologies...however, we like to keep our identities on the D.L. I for one, usually will recieve up to 10 friend invites if I talk during a game of BLOPS and that's just silly!

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Fane1024
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 9:54:56 PM

I never knew you were female, Darwin.

Cool. That means our female membership is bigger than I thought.

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Darwin1967
Thursday, June 09, 2011 @ 11:01:53 AM

LOL! See, I even fool our members! FYI, Guiness, my favorite beverage :)

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Teddie9
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 @ 6:00:04 PM
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Too bad most of that 72% probably don't care much for rpgs...

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___________
Thursday, June 09, 2011 @ 4:00:14 AM
Reply

hard to believe, but the old stereotype is dead!
never thought this day would come!
speaking of days i thought would never come, i have big foot, Sasquatch, Santa Claus, Jesus sitting right next to me!
the day we all thought would never come is FINALLY HERE!
the duke is in the building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sorry cole, but your put on the backlog ive been waiting a long 14 f*cking years for this!

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