When embarking on the journey into games journalism eight months ago, I was painfully unaware of many issues that now have my undivided attention. One issue strikes me as odd, but very prevalent: women in gaming. Another point of interest is the age of the average gamer. We take a look at both gender and age through an annual report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
This is not to highlight any instances or well written articles to help demonstrate the struggles of women being seen as equals in the gaming industry. Nor is this to answer any questions as to what age games are developed for. Those types of arguments are for another time and place. This article is to simply take a look at some statistics from the last five years regarding gender and age.
The ESA has gathered demographic information about gamers for quite some time.
One can only assume as our technology has advanced, so has the ESA’s ability accurately track exactly who’s purchasing video games. They release an annual report on who and what people are playing.
According to the ESA in 2008 both PC games and consoles were in 65% of all households in the United States. That very statement has been completely wiped from the report in 2013’s iteration. The average US household owns at least one PC, console, or smartphone dedicated to gaming. The report also places 2 gamers in one of those average US households leading to 58% of US citizens playing games. That means over 180 million people are enjoying video games.
For all those people playing games, this year’s average age for a gamer is 30.
The same ESA report states in 2008 the average age of a gamer was 35. Presumably the age of a gamer is only getting younger as time goes on. In ’08, only 25% of gamers were 18 and younger, and this year, that number grew to 32%. The age demographic seems shared almost equally with the 18-36 and the 36+ crowd.
What’s established so far is that every household owns a gaming system to some extent, and those folks are somewhere close to 30. What we don’t know yet is the gender participation.
In 2008, the ESA shows 40% of all people were female gamers. although the number in 2013 is up 5%; the year of 2012 saw the highest percentage of female gamers at 47%. Though “women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%).”
The ESA has compiled stats to indicate purchases through all platforms of gaming, whether that be PC, smartphones, or home consoles. The ESA report simply states “of the most frequent game purchasers, 54% are male and 46% are female.”
Some would argue there’s not a distinction between games, period.
For some, games are games — it doesn’t matter the platform. Others are inclined to separate social and mobile games from more traditional experiences on PC or console. It’s a tough debate with valid points from both sides. Nonetheless, the ESA sees no difference and has reported as so.
These statistics are just that–statistics–and have limitations as does any poll or census gathering. You can take to heart what you will, I find these numbers comforting to know. Both folks young and old are enjoying video games and those numbers are only growing. I can’t wait to take a look at these stats in another five years.