ESA: Essential Facts About Gamers and Politics

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Oh Electronic Software Association, you’ve given me an early Christmas present. The ESA is the foremost data collector of statistics and data on video game consumption, usage, and attitudes.  Annually this blog reports on their essential facts about video game consumption, but today they’ve released a special report on their findings on how politically engaged gamers are. They’ve created a easy to read infographic of all of these statistics that I will be pulling from.

Now that were are officially a year away from the 2016 election, such statistics are as timely as ever. Spoiler alert: Most gamers  don’t think America’s leadership is a monarchy ruled by Princess Zelda.

votingThe results are overwhelmingly positive: gamers are very politically engaged. In a survey that asked whether or not they would vote in the 2016 election, 80% of gamers said they were going to exercise their right to vote. This is in comparison to non-gamers, which had a percentage of 75% respondents saying they were going to vote in next years election.

“100 million gamers will vote next year…Gamers are engaged, informed and hold strong opinions on critical issues. From both sides of the aisle, and in every state across the country, they will influence the course of our nation’s future.”

partyIn terms of political party, gamers are split even with an equal amount identifying as
Republican and Demographics. This doesn’t surprise me all that much, as it closely represents the general demographics on the United States, further showing that gamers are the general population. That said, significantly more gamers identify as conservative than liberal. Why gamers skew heavily social conservative is beyond me, and on what issues they lean conservative isn’t specified

Lastly the survey looked at what gamers think about specific issues.

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There’s some really interesting insights into how they fall on issues and this is really one of the first studies to actually ask these specific questions.  Despite the majority classifying themselves as “conservative” their political leanings on issues definitely have some socially liberal slants.

With the statistics out of the way, we can hypothesize as to why gamers tend to be more politically active than non-gamers (or at least say they are). It could certainly have something to do with their connection to online communities; video game communities are gathering places for people to discuss on-going issues. Places like NeoGaf’s off-topic forums ignite intellectual debates in their threads, and this creates public awareness for issues people may not typically come across in their daily lives. Whatever the reason for this political engagement, it’s a beautiful thing to see gamers getting politically active. There are issues out there that concern all gamers; A more politically engaged community is one that has a greater voice.

I think Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, says it best in the ESA press release:

What is so striking about this research is how deeply mainstreamed video games have become in our culture…The views of gamers are as diverse as the nation itself, and there can be little doubt now that playing video games is a near universal activity at the very core now of the national experience in the U.S.”

Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been saying that for years…Yeah, I’m cool.

Please head over the ESA website and support this type of research. We need more of this stuff, it really does make for a more educated and informed video game community.

Pew Research Center’s 2015 Findings on Console Ownership

Less progressive parts of the gaming community are in an uproar today, as a new survey suggest that more American women own video game consoles than their male counterparts. Should chauvinistic males flee the medium for fear of cooties? We’ll look into that finding and more!

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The Pew Research Group is a well respected, non-partisan ,and non-advocacy research group that gathers data on public issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. This week they released their findings on technology device ownership, ranging from tablets to video game consoles. It’s great data to comb through, but I’ll be focusing specifically on the findings of console ownership.

Let me start of my saying this: It’s ridiculous that there is a backlash to this survey. Read any article reporting this survey and you’ll be met with juvenile comments from people saying it’s poor research, a conspiracy of sorts, or a sign that video games are going to hell. Regardless of the validity of the data,  such comments and responses prove that there still exists a vocal minority that represent backwards and offensive views. If this survey is true, we as a community should be thrilled that this once male dominated medium is now a more inclusive one. A diverse video game community is a stronger community and  these negative views do not represent the entire video game community.

With that said, lets examine the finding:

The number that is grabbing the most headlines is the finding that 42% of women own video game consoles, while only 37% of men own a console.  This result is contrary to what most would assume, as the ESA report on video game consumption found that male gamers were still in the majority. However, it’s not as inconceivable as it once was; female gamers are on the rise and they make up nearly half of the gaming population.

With that said, there are certain consideration to think about when looking at this data, such as does this data include respondents who are parents and own video game consoles because their children? Likewise, does this include respondents who bought video game consoles because of their multimedia uses and not their video game uses, and would otherwise not consider themselves “gamers”?  Although we don’t have an answer for these questions and these aren’t suggestions for why the data is as it is, such questions allow us to better interpret and hypothesize about the data in front of us. To create a better picture of console ownership, additional probing questions would have to be asked.

Next the survey looks specifically at the breakdown of race in regards to console ownership. This data is actually quite interesting if only for the fact that it’s not something most research groups typically delve into when conducting research concerning video game demographics. That said, it’s not all that surprising; the percentage of people who play video games is relatively similar across each race.

Likewise, the data on educational attainment  and community type is relatively unremarkable. It is worth noting that the educational attainment data is mostly tied directly with financial ability to purchase video games.

As stated at the bottom of the survey, the sample size surveyed was 948 respondents. This is a pretty healthy sample size; more could be included, but it’s viable enough to work off of.  The Research Group goes into their complete methodology behind the survey for anyone with lingering doubts about the survey. Given that, should we take all of this data at face value? Not necessarily. As I mentioned, this data doesn’t give the complete picture. There may be reasons why certain stats are what they are, but the data does  gives us a better picture than we had before.

In all, this isn’t the most earth shattering survey response. Not all data is shocking or dramatic, a lot of time surveys just confirm what we mostly assume. However, it’s important for groups like the Pew Research Group to conduct these surveys because they give us the raw data that we need to formulate our arguments and theories. They’re out there doing the hard work for us. No body wants me calling 948 people asking about whether or not they have video games, I swear.