What has happened to the gamer demographic?

what has happened to the gamer demographic averagegameIt’s not your imagination: Gamers are getting younger these days.

In fact, if 2012’s “Essential Facts” briefing from the Entertainment Software Association is to be believed, they’ve gotten substantially younger from this time last year, with the average American gamer losing seven years and the population of gamers under the age of 18 going from 18 percent to 32 percent. Did a lot of older gamers die in the last year, or is something else happening to skew the results…?

Thankfully (for many reasons, not just the health and livelihood of the elder gaming population of the country), it’s the former; Ars Technica reveals that the significant difference in results between the 2011 and 2012 surveys – which, at first glance, appears to take the gaming population back towards 2005 levels of market penetration – is the result of a change of verbage and classification within the survey itself. Until this year, non-gamers were removed from answering the survey using a screening question that asked “Do you have a video game console in your home or do you have a PC that’s used primarily to run video games?” For the 2012 survey, the definition of electronic gaming was broadened, and as a result, the question asked not only about gaming consoles and PCs, but also “a dedicated handheld system (like a PSP, etc.) [or] a wireless device/tablet (e.g., iPad) or a phone used to play games.” Within respondents only having to play a game on any of those four devices for an hour a week to qualify – ten hours a week classified them as “serious gamers” – the floodgates were opened. Suddenly, playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends could see you classified as a gamer, and as a result, everything changed.

According to the ESA’s Vice President Dan Hewitt, the result is something that captures “survey data that is more fully reflective of everyone who is playing games at this point.” He explained the reason behind the change by saying that “at some point you can kind of see a situation when the market changes and the way people play games change… 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.”

As a result, the data in the briefing suddenly looks very different than before. Not only is the average gamer younger (The average age is 30; 32 percent of gamers are under 18, 31 percent aged between 18 and 35, 37 percent are aged older than 36), but the gender demographics have shifted significantly as well, with women aged 30 and above now representing a larger slice of the gaming market than boys aged 17 and under. It’s a whole new world out there for people working in the gaming industry – and a good indicator of how big a game changer mobile platforms can, and will, be in the future.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.

Who needs a Switch? These 25 games prove there's fun to be found on 3DS

The 3DS is home to a large library, including some of the greatest games Nintendo has ever published. We've compiled this list of some of the best Nintendo 3DS games currently available.

Verizon video game streaming service leaked, currently testing on Nvidia Shield

Verizon is currently testing a video game streaming service that is already running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box, according to The Verge. The platform, named Verizon Gaming, will also eventually launch on Android smartphones.

Dataminers discover SNES games, more emulators for Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online may soon launch SNES games and more emulators, according to data miners. The list of hidden SNES titles include Breath of Fire 2 and Star Fox 2, while the other emulators may be the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube.

‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 2’ ride takes 12 years to complete

A RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 player has constructed a coaster in the game that will take more than 12 years to complete from beginning to end, and is actually a tiny ride taking up a small portion of the landscape.

‘Battlefield V’ adds Squad Conquest mode in ‘Lightning Strikes’ update

Electronic Arts and DICE have detailed what is included in the Battlefield V update Lightning Strikes. The update includes access to the mode Squad Conquest through the end of January.

Here's everything you need to know to trade in 'Pokémon Go'

After literally years of waiting, Pokémon Go finally gives trainers the option to trade Pokémon with others. It's not easy, though, and the cost is quite high if you try trading with strangers.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

‘Rocket League’ is the latest game to get full cross-platform play

Psyonix has announced that Rocket League now supports full cross-platform play across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, joining Fortnite as the only games to do so.

Here's what you need to know about 'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth'

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's what you need to know.
Product Review

'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe' is 2D platforming wizardry

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the latest Wii U game to come back from the dead on Switch. And wow, it’s much better than we remembered.