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No videogames for old men

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The ESA, or entertainment Software Association,has once again released its annual report on the state of the gaming industry – but its changed its metrics, and has come up with a bunch of numbers that differ quire substantially from last year’s. One of the most notable of their statistics is that the average gamer’s age has dropped by a full seven years.

It’s long been cited as a fact – mostly by gamers – that the average age of the game playing American is 37 years old. That number came from last year’s ESA report, which also showed that only 18% of US gamers were actually minors.


The average age of the average gamer, says this year’s report, is 30. Why? Have all the old people’s Xbox’s red ringed? Have geriatric gamers grown tired of Wii Sports Bowling? Have more toddlers embraced videogaming? No – nothing like that. Instead, it’s the result in the ESA widening its scope of just who’s considered a gamer. It now says that about a third of the people considered to be gamers (that is, those who play games for at least an hour a week) are under the age of 18.

Where surveys past have focused primarily on OC and console gamers, this year’s broadened report quantifies those who play games on smartphones and tablets too. It’s probably a more accurate reflection of the industry, but it dampens hardcore gamers argument that games are for grown ups; where 37 – approaching middle age – is clearly an adult age, 30 is an age where people are still quite happy to tell you to be more adult.

“At some point you can kind of see a situation when the market changes and the way people play games change,”  said the ESA’s Dan Hewitt.  “At some point you’re going to have to change your survey instrument and have a year like we have now… to ensure that your survey and the statistics that stem from that survey maintain their relevance, so that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Thanks, Angry Birds – you’ve made gaming a kids thing again.

Last Updated: August 2, 2012

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