How old are video game players?
February 27, 2013 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recent, substantive, data on the demographics of video game players that does NOT source back (as so many do) to the ESA. There must be some others out there? Yes?

Looking for:

- a breakdown of the age ranges of video game players, in the USA, western world or whole world
- the proportion of female to male players, for same
- the average age of a video game player, for same

But ... has to have a source reference of some credible kind. There are many websites and blogs out there that have this information, but those which provide a reference pretty much all link to the ESA stuff such as this one. Looking for several original sources - if they exist - of this specific information, and the only other one found so far are the Newzoo reports. Are there any others?
posted by Wordshore to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
From the linked document:

98% of parents feel the ESRB rating system is either very or somewhat helpful in choosing games for their children

85% of parents are aware of the ESRB rating system

I see why you don't want to use this data.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I recall a researcher named Nick Yee doing some work on this specifically regarding MMORPGs in the mid aughts. Check out his site and maybe contact him personally to get access to his data.

Here's a quick summary of his age data pulled from a 2006 paper:
The majority of respondents were male (85.4%, n = 5547). The average age of the respondents was 26.57 (n = 5509, SD = 9.19); the median was 25, with a range from 11 to 68. The lower and upper quartile boundaries were 19 and 32 respectively (see Figure 1 for the ages of both genders). Thus, only about 25% of MMORPG users are teenagers and MMORPGs have cross-generational appeal.
There's a graph and more information regarding the male/female age breakdown on pgs 16-17 of the paper (pdf here).
posted by Wretch729 at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2013

Also I absolutely should not start rooting through this at work today but I just discovered that Wikipedia has a "games researchers" category. Might be something there if you dig.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2013

One of the reasons you might not be seeing publicly available research data is that this info is often researched privately and then sold to publishers or developers. EEDAR is one of these. They are partnered with Nielsen (which does the 'Nielsen ratings' for tv). Sometimes research is made public, but mostly it's private and very expensive. The ESA probably gets the data from EEDAR and/or Nielsen.

That might give you a good start for finding the info you want, though. A brief google turns up an older report by Nielsen:

For example:
"When we look at the composition of personal computer game players in the December 2008 data, the single largest group of personal computer video game players is females ages 25 to 54, accounting for approximately 29 percent of total personal computer game players. Males ages 25 to 54 account for the next largest block at roughly 20 percent of all personal computer game players"

There's lots more information in there, including breakdowns across different popular games (Solitaire vs. World of Warcraft). (Note: recent demographic info will be affected a lot by the rise of mobile and facebook games).

If you look around more, you might find the global gender breakdown you are looking for. But global numbers like that aren't that useful to marketing research (which cares a lot more about the breakdown of specific trends/demographics) as opposed to advocacy (which cares more about simplifying the information into facts people might actually understand and remember).
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:07 PM on February 27, 2013

Actually, looking at the ESA report again, they tell you exactly where they got their numbers:

"the 2012 Essential facts About the computer and Video game industry was released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) at E3 2012. the annual research was conducted by ipsos mediact for ESA. the study is the most in-depth and targeted survey of its kind, gathering data from more than 2,000 nationally representative households."

There seems to be more studies done by ipsos in collaboration with other companies (like IGN) on video game consumers that you can try looking at.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2013

What do you want to do with this information? I ask, because there are often ways to come up with useful information by synthesizing other sources.

That said, I have a few ideas. The Pew Internet project has data on game use. There are probably other studies too that focus on overall computer or mobile device use which will contain information on games as part of that. Similarly, studies on hobbies or entertainment should have data on video games.
posted by Good Brain at 1:41 PM on February 27, 2013

This study just released by NPD may be up your alley. NPD does point-of-sale data collection for the industry and tends to have some of the most accurate figures.
posted by Oktober at 12:57 PM on March 6, 2013

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