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Average Gamer Is 37 Years Old 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-sim-lawn dept.
kolbe writes "A new study from the Entertainment Software Association suggests that the average age of today's gamers is between the 37 and 41 years old. If true, does this mean that game studios should be adjusting their demographics accordingly? Is Generation X the next 'baby boomer' market for the gaming industry?"
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Average Gamer Is 37 Years Old

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  • by DI4BL0S (1399393) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:21AM (#36371574)
    I'm sure as we go further into the age of technology this number will rise
    • by cappp (1822388)
      The report itself can be found here [theesa.com](pdf). If you look on page 2 you'll see that they claim 29% are over the age of 50 - a demographic that dwarfs the 18% under 18.

      I would however take the numbers with a grain, or truckload, of salt. The report nicely avoids explaining it's methodology and likely uses a broad definition of games (Farmville and minesweeper anyone?) and gamers (usually based on the age of the person doing the buying). Moreover it's an industry study which has an interest in projecting the
      • by delinear (991444)
        This is key to understanding these figures. Is it based on sales? If that's the case, considering the cost of games these days, it's not surprising that the figures would skew heavily in favour of the age group that have jobs and kids (i.e. a lot of those sales are for under 18 year olds, but adding to the mid thirties demographic). Similarly, if we assume that a large number of under 18s are playing 18 rated games and lying about their age (and the industry are turning a blind eye because it's in their int
      • by vlm (69642)

        The report nicely avoids explaining it's methodology and likely uses a broad definition of games (Farmville and minesweeper anyone?)

        Yes yes, everyone knows that only "REAL GAMES" are multiplayer endless remakes and sequels of first person shooters. Its a very tired old meme that should be allowed to expire.

      • by SQLGuru (980662)

        There is a really simple explaination to this age (of which I'm a member....).

        This group is pretty much the right age to have grown up with the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Apple II, and [insert your favorite classic computer here]. We transitioned to the Nintendo and Genesis when those became available.....and our ranks grew. We transitioned to the Super Nintendo and PS1......and our ranks grew. We transitioned to the Game Cube and the PS2 and the Xbox.....and our ranks grew. We transitioned to the Wii an

    • by michelcolman (1208008) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:22AM (#36372130)
      Yes, when I was 25, the average age of gamers was about 25. Now I'm about to turn 37... I guess I'm just part of the gamer generation, and games keep being played by pretty much the same people. Those that grew up with the first home computers and are always impressed by the latest technologies. Those young ones just don't appreciate this stuff on the same level. They're only interested in all this social crap the internet's filled with nowadays.
      • by delinear (991444)
        Same here, but that doesn't explain the massive boom in the overall number of people playing games. Gaming is now socially acceptable, even just 10-15 years ago you were viewed as a total nerd if you played games. That either means there's some other explanation for this trend or all those people who laughed at us for gaming were secretly jealous.
      • Maybe those interested in this "social crap" are actually more interested in new technologies than you are? Games are old, "social crap" is driving the advancement of networking and database technologies.

        I think it's more likely that you just prefer to play games than be particularly sociable. That's not meant as an insult, I'm the same. Though I do also spend some time chatting on "social crap" like Slashdot and Facebook.

        I'm 27 by the way. I grew up watching technology advance too, I remember typing in cod

    • Probably not, actually. The median age in the USA is 36.8 years old.

      Basically at this point the average gamer is just the average guy. For every guy under 37 that plays video games, there's someone over 37 who also plays video games, AND that's essentially the exact same information you'd get by their ages alone.

      Really, gaming has already spread through all age segments. You have preschoolers playing edutainment games, and you even have 80 year old grandmas in WoW raids, and everything in between. (But not

  • I absolutely detest playing games, programming them on the other hand, that I love.

    • by Berkyjay (1225604)
      Sorry
    • I absolutely detest playing games, programming them on the other hand, that I love.

      I love to program, but after doing it all day at work I quite enjoy a diversion in the form of games. Mostly it's with the kids and not very deep titles, but definitely helps to unwind.

    • by Grygus (1143095) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:42AM (#36371972)

      I have heard it suggested a few times that this is true of all game designers, that when a real designer plays a game, all he sees are the design decisions; the game itself can't be seen behind the mechanics, and that a good game for a designer is a well-designed game, which is not necessarily related to having fun with the gameplay. Richard Bartle once wrote an interesting blog entry [youhaventlived.com] about a zone's design in World of Warcraft; he definitely doesn't see and play the game like most people.

      I am glad people like you exist, because that's why I have games. I think you're really missing out sometimes, though.

      • by Jaruzel (804522)

        Cheers for the Bartle link - not an article I've read before. +1 virtual mod point for you.

      • by ildon (413912)

        I don't know about other people, but I can definitely parse out and separate good design decisions from fun gameplay. An easy example is World of Warcraft. It's chock full of good design decisions that somehow still fail to be "fun" (although I do still find raiding fun, primarily for the social aspect and the personal achievement aspects, there are tons of leveling, pvp, and class balance issues where brilliant design decisions have been made to solve a problem but where the brilliant design decision eithe

      • The same concept explains why serious movie fans have such wildly different impressions of movies than the rest of us. We're watching the movie, and they're watching the director move the camera around.
      • by Hatta (162192)

        a good game for a designer is a well-designed game, which is not necessarily related to having fun with the gameplay.

        If the gameplay isn't fun, the design isn't good.

    • by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:09AM (#36372066)
      Darn, that's too bad. I just found this really cool game. You start with an empty text file and the goal is to combine keywords and codes in order to create a procedural algorithm that produces an environment containing further goals for others to complete.
    • by Jaruzel (804522)

      I'm like this, although not as extreme. I get bored with playing games quite easily. The number of games I've actually completed in my life can be counted on one hand. On the flip side, I have a source code folder chocka-block with half finished game concepts, and I'm always dreaming up new game ideas I'd like to implement...

      -Jar

    • by ledow (319597)

      When I turned 30, I've finally bothered to sit down and seriously try to write the game I've been planning ever since about a year after I got my ZX Spectrum.

      Before now, I've started it in BASIC, Z80 assembler, Visual BASIC, x86 assembler, Java and C++, (in roughly that order) and a ton of other languages in order to learn the language, and never got to where I felt it was coming together. A year or so ago I sat down with another project, ported it to an ARM embedded device using C without much hassle at a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173)

      I like both.

      However, as a gamer falling into the middle age category as well I can understand your hatred for games to some extent. Although I'm still spending quite some time on gaming, I'm buying less and less games because games have become more and more stupid. I've been wondering for a long time why studios and producers don't make games that are more suitable for halfway mature people. With almost no exceptions the marketing and the content still seem to be devised for really stupid 14-15 year old boy

  • I turn 37 this year. I figured I was written off as "completely irrelevant" as a gamer, a hacker, a consumer, as.... anything.... probably more than a decade ago.

    37 is an awkward age to be.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Depends on who you ask? It seems the average age of tv viewers hit 50 fairly recently, but that's not the demographic that advertisers like to aim for so that's not the primary age most shows get written for. The average age of movie viewers seems a lot harder to pin down, though a lot of studies state that it's lower than the tv viewer average, but it wouldn't surprise me if the same thing is true in that case to a lesser degree as well.

      I don't know if the advertisers and producers have good evidence to
      • by Grygus (1143095)

        I would imagine that chasing younger viewers has something to do with the fact that they are potentially customers for a longer span of time.

      • by Eivind (15695)

        There's rock-solid evidence that younger people are more influenced by advertising. Thus the primary target is old-enough-to-have-money but at the same time young-enough-to-be-influencable. To a certain degree younger children influence the purchases of their parents offcourse, so those too get targeted.

        Thing is, most habits are pretty well-formed before you're 40, and odds are you'll stick with many of them for life. Sure you'll drop -some- old stuff, and pick up -some- new stuff. But at a rate nowhere nea

        • by vlm (69642)

          Consider how music-taste changes 10-25 versus 30-45. The first is a huge change, and probably most of the music-styles and/or artists that'll be your favourites for life, you learn to know in this age, the second age-span ? Not so much. You'll maybe get to know a few new artists, mostly such as play in genres you already know and like.

          Having been there done that, I can assure you for the vast majority of people, its not some organic brain malfunction, but more like:

          10-25 = I love whatever the music industry execs are pushing today. Whatever is on the top 40 station, is what all my friends will listen to, so I will too. And I, and all my friends, will wisely all rebel against "the man" in perfect conformity with each other and the music industry execs.

          30-45 = F those music company execs and the trash they push. I'm not going to listen

    • by scumdamn (82357)
      Next year for me. I'm below average...
    • You are not written off as a dad :-)

    • by Aceticon (140883)

      37? Awkward?

      Nah!

      It's a prime age my friend.

  • Nah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:28AM (#36371626) Homepage
    We're all still mentally 15, so targeting us with boobs and explosions is still cool.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      We're all still mentally 15, so targeting us with boobs and explosions is still cool.

      Yeah... those were good times... no goatse, I mean.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:38AM (#36371678) Homepage

    In this market, you're either unemployed (and looking), or overworked doing the workload of potentially three employees at 60+ hours/week (companies cutting costs). From my view, there' no middle ground between work and play. So at 34 years old, gaming is a legendary form of recreation I simply don't have the time for.

    • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:09AM (#36372068)

      You're doing it wrong?

      Seriously... I don't think I could survive more than a couple of 60 hour weeks in a row, and neither would I want to. if that realyl is the situation where you are then I suggest you might want to look into other lines of work.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        I work 32 hours a week, but I'm still swamped with the care for my kid and other commitments. I still manage to find some time for the occasional game (currently playing The Witcher 2), as well as two table-top RPG groups (one bi-weekly, one monthly). The gaming does put some stress on my schedule, though.

        • but I'm still swamped with the care for my kid

          And that is merely #1 on my list of a thousand reasons to never have kids. I spent enough time growing up being miserable because I had no free time - I'm not going to be foolish enough to do that to myself for 20-30 years now that I'm older.

      • 60 hour weeks too stressful for more than a couple of weeks in a row??

        I've been working 60+ hour weeks for several years now. You know what I was working before that? 80+ hour weeks. interspersed with 90 and 100+ hour weeks.

        I'm just wondering how old you are... A lot of the 40+ generation seems to think everything started going down hill with the generation born in the 80's. If you're under 30 then you and another person I met recently may be confirming the stereotype >_

        • I hope your joking and didn't waste your whole life working. it's not even legal here to work those kinds of hours, it's well known to be detrimental to performance.
          • I personally am aware that its detrimental to performance. However sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

            When your normal performance requires a lot of thought but then you really need some stuff moved in the warehouse and theres no one to do it, you do your regular job and then do that job too.

            Also its not legal here for a company to force an employee to work those kinds of hours. However where I come from theres this thing called responsibility and dedication that cause a lot of folks to end up d

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Then you're crazy, IMHO.

          I work a little under 40 hours a week. I have worked 60+ during times of exceptional need and I think three weeks of that is my current record. But I will never accept that as a normal working week.

          If you're being asked to go into emergency mode more than a couple of times a year then your managers are getting things badly wrong. If you're being asked to do 60+ constantly, and agree to, then (IMHO) your priorities in life are all screwed up.

          I was born late 70s, so I'm in my 30s. I do

          • I volunteered myself for those hours. In some cases the bosses don't even know how long I worked. The up side for me is that I get results. Thats seen and valued more than anything else, especially given the current economic climate.

            I'm Canadian by the way, and I'll probably be semi-retired by the time I'm your age.

            I think you're crazy that you'll settle for doing less than your absolute best and then being able to enjoy the spoils of your hard effort for a long time afterwards.

  • My dad is almost 60 and he will play Worms Armageddon with me on the X360 sometimes when he comes to visit. Does this mean he is a gamer?

    I've always thought, there are people who play games, just like there are people who go to the movies, but just the act of doing that doesn't make them "Movie Buffs" or "Gamers"

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I've always thought, there are people who play games, just like there are people who go to the movies, but just the act of doing that doesn't make them "Movie Buffs" or "Gamers"

      The act of going to a movie makes one a moviegoer, and the act of playing a game ("gaming") makes one a gamer. HTH, HAND.

    • by ildon (413912)

      Exactly. Where's the link for this article? Are all the housewives and secretaries playing Farmville "gamers"?

    • by Kelbear (870538)

      I like your distinction, it sums things up quite nicely.

      From now on, I'll call anyone who has played any kind of electronic entertainment "gamers", and anyone who is actively engaged in gaming, and digesting related news "gaming enthusiasts".

      If there are "casual" gamers who are "hardcore" about their games, they'd certainly belong in the category of gaming enthusiasts. However, the vast majority who only dabble in gaming as a way of passing time, wouldn't fall into the category.

      Gaming enthusiast as a term w

  • That is absolutely and utterly not true. Think about what kind of numbers it would take to get an average that high and compare it to reality of what demographics are known to play games and you won't even need to read the article to know it's BS. Also, at the time of this posting, you can't read the article because this story doesn't link to one. Is it April Fools day already?
    Yes, I play Dungeons and Dragons Online and most people are 20-40 and it's great because kids get really annoying in games (I'm
    • If the question was "do you play games on your computer?" then all the people who occasionally fire up solitaire would, obviously, answer YES. There's insufficient information given (and commentators here making a lot of assumptions) as to what sorts of games people play. Most comments seem to think that the whole world is just like them -- and therefore all "gamers" will only play the sorts of games they do.

      This report is too limited to have any value.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Have you ever stopped to think that you perceive there to be more youngsters in games because they're the ones screaming down the headset on XBox live to you and spamming like the children they are on chat channels in WoW and so forth, whilst the older ones who are a bit more mature quietly just keep to enjoying themselves?

      It's likely also that teenagers spend more time in games simply because they have more spare time, which may also give the perception that they're more common, but this is about numbers o

    • I completely agree. Assuming any kind of balanced average, the result implied that there are is a comparable number of 59 year olds playing video games as there are 15 year olds. This is not a credible statistic.

    • by ildon (413912)

      My WoW guild actively avoids recruiting people under 18 (most of our players are 25-40 and married with children), and I'd say about 9/10 of our applicants are 14-22.

  • Does that mean that if you are 42 years old then you are an above average gamer?

    So that's who is kicking my butt in multiplayer! I don't know if that is a better or worse than it being some 12 year old punk.

    • by Kensai7 (1005287)

      Haha, had the same thought. Unfortunately, these questionnaires are probably faulty by definition. Most teenagers and kids don't have the time or interest to respond to demographic questions, sliding the bias to higher ages. Moreover many kids just declare a higher age than they really have to avoid "limited version" of a game (no blood, gore, etc).

      I would expect the average age to be that of a university student (18-24). Of course it gets higher and higher every year because many of us have grown up with g

  • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:42AM (#36371702)
    I'm 39 and a flight simmer (DCS:A-10C, LockOn: Flaming Cliffs 2, DCS:Ka-50 and IL-2:Clifss of Dover). Do play a little bit of twitch gaming but get bored of it. For my flight simming I have thousands of dollars of gear (Thrustmaster Warthog, rudder pedals, Track IR, multiple monitors, high-end PC). Most of my colleagues are of similar maturity and also have full sets of gear. We older gamers might be fewer in numbers but we are a goldmine in value (and we pay for our software since pirating is a complete hassle - and time is more precious to us fogies than money). Too bad we're completely invisible to the main-stream game reporting and gaming companies - especially the latter who produce games with purile content and weak storylines (I mean, effective modern combat units fight *for* their teammates, despite humored grumbling they don't bitch fight among themselves all the time).
  • original (Score:5, Informative)

    by mustPushCart (1871520) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:44AM (#36371710)

    Heres the original pdf of the study.

    http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf [theesa.com]

    its up from 34 last year apparently. So gamers are ageing 3 years for every 1.

    • More older people are playing games year on year. That would be the most plausible reason for the discrepancy.

    • Re:original (Score:5, Funny)

      by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @04:05AM (#36372300)

      its up from 34 last year apparently. So gamers are ageing 3 years for every 1.

      That's it. I'm quitting.

    • by ildon (413912)

      Looking at this, I think they're using the age of the person purchasing the game to determine their "age of gamers" instead of the age of the person actually playing the game. Which is obviously going to give you a broken/skewed image, as grandparents and parents purchase games for anyone 5-18 (and that's ignoring things like Christmas/birthday gifts later down the road).

  • Link (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:53AM (#36371758)
    So now we're posting submissions without sources that try to make an entire discussion out of a single alleged factoid? Seriously?

    Most links I can find on this topic point to CNET [cnet.com], but this [theesa.com] is the closest thing I can find to the original source. One website high in the google results links to pdf of this supposed study, but the link is dead.
    • Oh God dammit I'm an idiot. I did find the original source, it was right on that page. I'd now like to point out, however, that the "study" [theesa.com] appears to be a bunch of market research tidbits, for which even the ESA's original presentation doesn't provide a concrete source other than crediting them all to the NPD group. At least, with a few dozen random facts on every page they stop every three pages or so to attribute a particular graph to NPD; other than that and about a million quotes, they don't source any
  • If true, does this mean that game studios should be adjusting their demographics accordingly?

    The game studios already are, that's WHY the demographics have changed. The influx of mainstream casual games are the primary reason for the shift. Good games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies, OK games like Angry Birds, and particularly dodgy ones like FarmVille, they all exist because the studios have wanted to tap into the casual market which traditional games was not suitably targeting. The Wii is also part

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The influx of mainstream casual games are the primary reason for the shift. Good games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies, OK games like Angry Birds, and particularly dodgy ones like FarmVille,

      Games like that have existed for years. How different is Bejeweled from Columns or Puzzle Bobble? It's yet another colored block matching game. Plants vs Zombies is just tower defense, which has existed in many previous incarnations. Angry Birds was old when it was called Scorched Earth (or Gorillas.bas). Ama

  • The major game publishers already do market research which isn't published, they know and have known the age distribution of gamers. The effect that being older has on gaming has been known for years (preference for mature themes, short play sessions, greater access to credit cards, etc.).
    I think (some) baby boomers are the only ones surprised that video games aren't just for kids.

  • If they took into account the age people enter as age verification, then their results wouls be horribly wrong.

    For most places, in the age verification column, I enter my age as 100, or DOB as 1 jan 1900 (1 jan is defaukt, just change the yr to 1900)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to get on a "remember-when" rant, but here I go anyway... I'm 42. I grew up in the late 70s/early 80s. I remember the hand-held electronic games (Galaxy Invader 1000), home video game consoles (first the pong-style games, then Atari VCS, Intellevision, Vectrex!), the first big coin-op games (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender, Pac Man), home computers (Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum). This was a new and exciting time. Best toys ever. I never really played board games or sports

  • The average gamer, as identified through PAID software demographics, is 37.

    Put otherwise, the average PAYING gamer is 37.

  • This suggests that the game market today is most easily accessible and liked by a certain type of people who happens to be 37-41 years old.

    My guess?
    That's an age where you start to cut back hours on the job and start earning real money.

    Buying a bunch of stuff which might be fun for a few hours is worth it then.

  • I realize it's the right thing to do for a person of seasoned age to make jokes about how bad/dumb/noob/etc kids are these days (cause these days are so much worse than back in the good old days) but I really doubt any of them are admitting to being under 18 in any sort of online experience - be it surveys or being asked by various forms.

    Meanwhile, a lot of companies will ask for your age (to protect themselves from retarded laws most likely but possibly for marketing reasons also). This includes but not li

  • It says at the bottom under the alleged quote. "Share This Story"

    WHAT STORY?

  • by LS (57954)

    does this mean that game studios should be adjusting their demographics accordingly?

    Are you actually suggesting that game studios don't do intensive research on market demographics?

    Dumbest slashdot "story" ever.

  • by epine (68316) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @04:59AM (#36372472)

    What they care about is mean time between purchase at full retail value for the same product every other short-attention-span twitch spender is buying that week.

    Even when I gamed a lot, I only bought the epic titles and beat them to death. My passing from the gaming demographic went unnoticed by the marketroids.

    The rule of thumb is that bad money drives out good. When the idiot demographic pays too much for bad content, the companies soon lose interest in making the good content.

    I'm sure I just opened myself up for contradiction by epic counter-example. I rest my case.

    Read the happiness literature on novelty saturation, then estimate the supply/demand curve intersection involving those who haven't.
     

  • by Pop69 (700500)
    I'm finally above average in something !

    That's a good thing isn't it ?
  • No way my mad skillz are average.
  • If you look at the PDF you see that they have grouped the ages into three categories. Under 18, 18-49 and 50+. It looks like they have calculated the average from just three data points. As the 18-50 group is so big its skews the average towards the middle value of that group 33. A finer division of groups would probably show a greater number of younger people playing games.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The average age is interesting but there's too many people involved for it to tell the average :) person anything. What we need is the median.

  • I find that hard to believe.
    Most games I play online, is FULL of pre-pubescent whinny tards.

    Or maybe it's averagely 37 yards old, just acting like they're 12?

  • Five years ago you couldn't have paid my father (86) to play a game. Now I can't get him to put down Angry Birds when we go out for breakfast, and when he does shut his phone off he talks about the Kinect yoga thing.

    Lot of that kind of thing - older folks playing games - changing the average, I'm sure. And I'm glad for it, since by trying to make games that appeal to non-traditional segments there will likely be more interesting games for me to play.

  • It was in the 1970's when games really Pong came out and the industry has grown since, and so has it's most loyal fans.

    I'm a middle-aged female, and I love gaming. I'm not great at it, but I still enjoy it none-the-less. And why shouldn't I. Games have actually brought families together in my household. Friendly challenges between neighbors were always a blast.

    This study, in my opinion, is only stating the obvious.

  • Maybe with unemployment being so high, more people are goofing off gaming. Otherwise, I just don't see how the average, employed, 37 year old has more time to play than the 7-18 year old. Unless they count playing Angry Birds while on the shi#ter as "gaming".

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