Via Reuters, video games advocacy group the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has shared their annual survey, titled “2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry” on their website this week. According to the press release, this is the “first time the ESA took a comprehensive look at the individual Americans who enjoy video games and their lifestyles to better understand their interests.”
In part, the report challenges the stereotypical misconceptions of “gamers” and gamer culture in America, providing a big-picture sense of the wide variety of people engaging with video games today.
— The ESA (@theESA) May 9, 2019
“The study shows that these individuals represent a cross-section of the American population and are diverse, active, engaged in their communities, and see video games as a positive force in society,” the ESA stated.
This is very different than the increasingly irrelevant pop-culture portrait of a gamer as lazy, unhealthy, or disengaged from the world around them. The ESA looked at data on the health of gamers, specifically sleep and exercise habits. It turns out that the average gamer is statistically similar to today’s average American in most ways.
Interestingly, there are unexpected places where the average gamer and average America deviate. 32 percent of gamers responded that they meditate regularly, compared with 27 percent of Americans as a whole. Gamers are also statistically more likely to be vegetarian at 17 percent, five percentage points higher than the average American.
A few statements from acting President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis on the 2019 Essential Report were included in the ESA’s press release. “This is the golden age of video games. They are the leading form of entertainment in American culture. They enhance our interconnected experiences and relationships with one another and redefine the intersection between humans and technology.”
Americans play video games to have fun, relieve stress, learn, and spend time with family. This innovative form of entertainment touches on every part of society and improves how we play, work, and live.
Over $43 billion was spent on gaming in 2018, and most of that money was spent on content, not hardware or peripherals. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Red Dead Redemption II and NBA 2K19 were at the top of the list for most units sold. Free games like Fortnite were not included on this list.
More than 164 million Americans, or 65 percent of the population of the United States, play games. Not surprisingly the most popular genre is casual games, and 60 percent of players choose to game on their smartphone. Approximately half also play on consoles or PCs.
According to the ESA, 46 percent of all gamers are female but tend to prefer different games and platforms than male gamers. “Millenial” female gamers ages 18-34 reported that racing games, puzzle games, and party games are their favorites and 76 percent game primarily on their smartphone. Male gamers in the same age group prefer console gaming, at 69 percent and report racing games, sport games, and FPS games as their favorite genres. One thing is for sure, everyone loves Mario Kart.
After 34 the differences in preference and platform between genders dissipates. “Gen-X” gamers ages 35-54 were also surveyed, and both genders reported optimistic attitudes towards gaming. 62 percent of men and women in this age group believe that video games can be educational, and 68 percent believe they provide positive mental stimulation. For this generation of parents, gaming is viewed as a net positive.
Gaming is also big with the “boomer” generation for both men and women, with card games and board games being the most popular. A quarter of male and female boomers report a long history of gaming, suggesting that gamers are gamers for life.
The full version of the “2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry” survey report can be found here.