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ESA: 29 percent of gamers are over 50 years old – the average gamer is 37

Image used with permission by copyright holder

You might want to keep an eye on your grandma, because she may be better at World of Warcraft than you. The Electronic Software Association (ESA) has released a bunch of new statistics about who is playing games and which games they’re playing, and it’s quite striking how fast the industry is aging. Driven by kids and teens in the 80s and 90s, the industry still seems to be driven by the same group of gamers who have been riding the wave for years. Now at the age of 37, the average gamer was about 11 when the original Nintendo Entertainment System hit shelves in 1985. They haven’t all been playing that long though, as the average number of years spent playing games is 12. In 2011, just 18 percent of gamers are under age 18 while 29 percent are over 50. Games truly are mainstream, it seems.

Here are some stats about parents and games:

  • 91 percent of parents are present when their kids purchase or rent games
  • 86 percent of the time children receive permission from parents before purchasing or renting games
  • 80 percent of parents place limits on video game playing
  • 72 percent of American households play video games
  • 68 percent of parents believe gameplay provides mental stimulation or education
  • 57 percent of parents believe gameplay helps the family spend time together
  • 54 percent of parents believe gameplay helps kids connect to friends
  • 45 percent of parents play video games with their children at least once a week

And here are some general stats about game players:

  • 65 percent of gamers play games with other gamers in person (increase from 62 pct in 2009)
  • 55 percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld device (3DS, PSP)
  • 44 percent of games sold are rated E for Everyone
  • 42 percent of gamers are female (though of hardcore gamers, females make up 48 percent)
  • 33 percent of gamers say that playing games is their favorite entertainment activity
  • 24 percent of games sold are rated M for Mature
  • 24 percent of games sold are digital
  • 22 percent of console games sold are Action games
  • 20 percent of computer games sold are role-playing games
  • 19 percent of gamers pay to play online games (though 47 pct of those are puzzle/board/card, 11 pct are MMORPG)
  • 16 percent of console games sold are Shooters

Money money:

  • $25.1 billion total dollars were spent on video game hardware, software, and accessories in 2010
  • $15.9 billion was spent on video game software in the U.S. in 2010
  • $16 billion was spent on video game software in the U.S. in 2009
  • 257.2 million games were sold at retail in 2010 (down from a peak of 298.3 million in 2008)

It appears that the move to digital formats is happening quite quickly, with retail game sales beginning to decline while digital sales rise to 24 percent of overall sales in the U.S. Will we be buying game discs in 10 years? Or maybe we will be playing games for free? Either way, it’s encouraging to see that 45 percent of parents are playing games with their kids.

Jeffrey Van Camp
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Deputy Editor, Jeff helps oversee editorial operations at Digital Trends. Previously, he ran the site's…
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