2017 ESA Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry


The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has published their annual report about the computer and video game industry. This yearly report is an invaluable asset for researcher looking for statistics and figures concerning video game usage and consumption, as the ESA is the foremost collectors of this type of data. Each year they’re kind enough to report their findings, so let’s take a look at what this year’s report found.

Who is playing


More and more people are playing games, and the stereotype of video games being relegated to young boys is a thing of the past. The “average gamer” has seen an age decrease across both genders, with 2016’s report finding the average female was 44 and the average male gamer was 35. Nonetheless,  the demographics of the gaming community is shifting towards being an activity participated across all ages. Female gamers above the age of 18 make up significantly larger population of the gaming community than men under the age of 18. That may sound unimportant, but consider it in relation to the general cultural perception of video gaming be a teenage boy activity.


Despite gains in the community, male gamers still make up the most frequent purchasers of video games. Considering that free-to-play titles are often a popular genre of games for females, this statistic may be slightly misleading as to who is actually playing games.


It is now more likely to have a gamer in your household than it is not to. The percentage of households that have at least one person who plays 3 or more hours a week has seen a slight increase from 2015 (63%). With this percentage growing each year, more and more we are moving towards a culture in which playing video games is the norm.

Who Are Gamers Playing With?

We’ve established that gamers are playing, but who are they playing with? With an increase in the number of online enabled games and access to online multiplayer platforms increasingly becoming easier each year, it’s not unreasonable to assume that more people are playing together.


The numbers suggest that people are connecting through games, with the majority of gamers believing gaming to be a way to connect with friends. This statistic falls in line with contemporary research on how gamers view multiplayer interaction within their lives. The amount of time spent online vs. playing in person has actually shrunk from 2015, with gamers playing half an hour more with individuals in person in 2016. With developers such as Nintendo investing considerable attention in local multiplayer, particularly with the newly released Switch, it will be interesting to see how this figure changes next year. All of this is to say that people are using gaming as a way to connect with those around them, including their family members and spouses.

parentsTo go along with those findings, the amount of parental approval of video games has stayed steady with a very slight decrease from 2015 (68%). Despite this decrease, the majority of parents are found to believe video games are a positive influence on their kids’ lives and nearly all parents control the games their kids play in some way.

Other Findings:

  • Games are big money: the video game industry is continuing to grow, with the industry growing to 30.4 Billion from 23.5 Billion in 2015.
  • Bang for your buck: most gamers believe video games to be a better value for their money than music, movies, and dvds combined.
  • Digital Games are on the rise: digital purchases now make up 74% of all sales, with an increase from 69% in 2015.
  • Video Games are good for America: Video games added more than 11 billion to the GDP of the US in 2016.

Some great information for social science researcher to use to analyze video games and gamers. I left out a good deal of findings, so I definitely recommend checking out the actual report from the ESA. All graphics and pictures were pulled directly from the ESA’s report.

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ESA: Essential Facts About Gamers and Politics


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.


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.

Who is The Average Gamer?

With the 2015 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry recently explored, I thought it would be interesting to use all of the data to create a picture of who the average gamer is.

How are constructing this picture? Using the Data that the ESA gathered in their annual report on the demographics of the video game community we can pull it all together to create a hypothetical person. Granted, this person does not represent the entirety of the video game industry (in fact they probably won’t represent a lot of gamers), but it will convey the most typical gamer.

Why is This Being Done? There’s a lot of application to this kind of data. By understanding who the “average gamer” is, we can determine who the industry is primarily catered towards. While we’re making strides in being a more inclusive industry, the video game industry is still one of marketing and product creation with the average consumer in mind. With an understanding of who their target audience is, we can better understand how to expand that audience.

Views in the past. It goes without saying that one’s idea of the average gamer is something that has changed quite significantly in recent time. Years ago video games were thought to be primarily a children’s activity, but we’re discovering that this is no longer the case. The industry is no longer one dominated by young boys; we’re seeing that the industry is diversifying more and more as we go on. Thus, it’s important to reevaluate how he picture the average gamer:

Who is the average gamer?

We’re creating a person; we’ll need a name for this person. Let’s call this person Avery (Yeah, it’s a little on the nose..) Who is Avery? How old is Avery? Is Avery a male or female? What games does Avery play? Who is Avery playing with? How much time does Avery spend playing video games? LET’S FIND OUT WHO THIS AVERY IS.

Avery is a 35 year old male. In Avery’s household, there is one other person in the house that plays video games. The household owns at least one dedicated video game console, but Avery also plays a good amount of his video games on his PC. Avery isn’t new to video games, in fact Avery has been playing video games for 13 years. Avery plays games in moderation; he actually only plays about 3-4 hours of gaming a week. However, the usage of his console doesn’t end there; Avery uses his console to watch movies, watch TV and other forms of media. When he does get sometime to play games, he’s playing mostly social games, action games, and puzzle/card/board games. He plays with others either online or in person, but when he does it’s primarily with his friends. He spends a fair amount on video games per year, as he believes that video games are a good value for his money in comparison to other forms of media (dvds, theaters, etc.) Recently Avery has made a switch to buying more games digitally than physically. Last year, some of the games Avery most likely played were Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Madden, and the Sims 4.  Video games are becoming a greater and greater part of Avery’s everyday life; the time he plays per week are increasing every year and the amount of money he spends on games is also increasing. How long will Avery remain the average gamer? That remains to be seen.

If Avery was a parent:

Avery is knowledgeable about his children’s video game usage. He’s aware of the the ESRB ratings of each game and monitors the content of the game his kids are playing. He believes that its the parent’s responsibility to limit the amount of time their kids are playing games, surfing the internet, and watching TV. Avery believes video games are a positive part of his kids live’s, and will even play with his kids from time to time.


1) Race statistics on the video game industry seemingly don’t exist, or at least there isn’t a reputable source that I could find. Many studies examine racial representation and racial preference in video games, but not necessarily the demographics on the industry as a whole. That said, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the racial make-up of the American video game industry isn’t that far off from the general make-up of the United State’s demographics. This leads me to assume that the average American gamer is most likely Caucasian.

2) This portrait of the average gamer is representative of the United States, and may not be reflective of  other communities. Obviously we can assume that some of the statistics will carry over (Male dominated, for example, is one that is most likely true of most communities)

3) I’m only working with the research at hand. Unfortunately I’m not able to conduct my own research to narrow down other aspects of this portrait, and as a result we’re still left with a lot of mysteries about the average game.

So there you have it, a partial look at who the average gamer is. I hope this has been somewhat insightful and helpful for anyone trying to gather a better understanding on the video game industry. If not….eh, I tried.

ESA 2015 Essential Facts About The Computer & Video Game Industry

It’s that time of year again when the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) release their  yearly findings on the demographics and make up of the video game industry. The ESA is the foremost gatherer of this type of data and this yearly survey is the most in-depth of its kind. This is important stuff and extremely useful for anyone seeking data on video games and their communities.

Now you may be asking: “Who is this ESA and why should I believe the data these dweebs are spouting?” Well, 90s Bully child, who better to tell you who the ESA than the ESA themselves:

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) conducts business and consumer research, and provides analysis and advocacy on issues like global content protection, intellectual property, technology, e-commerce and the First Amendment in support of interactive software publishers. ESA owns and operates E3 and represents video game industry interests on federal and state levels.

Yeah, so they’re those people…Them.  A better description would be that they’re a organization that gathers pertinent information to better regulate content within the industry by partnering with a lot of the biggest names in the industry. In addition to the ESRB, the group that decides Manhunt is a more mature game than Pikmin (YOU’RE PLAYING WITH LIVES IN BOTH GAMES), they have programs that give scholarships to youths, a board that acknowledges achievements in the industry, and a group of advocates that promote taking action in support of video games. All in all, they’re a pretty cool organization that is making a positive influence on the video game industry.

Enough of that jibber-jaber, let’s get to the data!


The average age of gamers has increased significantly from last year’s data, which found that the average age of a gamer was 31. What’s leading this change? Could be that mobile games are reaching a larger audience than in previous years.  Another thing to note is that percentage of female gamers has actually decreased this year; last year they made up 48% of the gaming population. This change could representative of the sample population, or it could reflect a change in certain marketing over the past year.

socialThe majority of gamers are social gamers. Gone are the days in which gaming was primarily done by yourself in a dingy basement that may or may not have mold on the ceiling; Now it’s done in the same basement, but with people playing with friends! That said, this makes sense: most major video games now have an online component to them. Only 4 of the top 20 best selling games last year didn’t have a major online component to them, and 3 of the 4 were aimed at children.what we playGames that connect people are on the rise and more than ever we are playing with people across the world. Online communities are now global networks with people working and playing together. You’re next best gaming partner could be a thousand miles away from you. However, I would be interested to know how the ESA defines a social game: Is Super Smash Brothers and social game because it features online play?


The gaming landscape is still one that is incredibly diverse in terms of themes and age levels. There’s a tend to lump the majority of games in as “mature and violent”, but the majority of video games still are considered family friendly. 11 of the top 20 best selling games last year were rated E or E10+.

parentsThe relationship between gaming and family is an ever changing one. Parents are learning how to incorporate and monitor the usage of gaming in their children’s lives. The percentage of parents that monitor the games and hours their children play video games is 91%, up from 87% last year. The influence of video games on children is something we’re gradually getting a better understanding on, so it make sense that year after year parents are becoming more involved in their childrens gaming habits.digitalvs

Lastly, for the first time in the history of video games, digital sales seem to have surpassed physical copies. Keep in mind this is for the industry as a whole (which includes both mobile and PC games), but it’s still an important milestone for the industry. As we discussed, the trend towards digital games raises question about the future of video games preservation. The number of mobile games and digital only games will only increase in the coming years, so you may want to rethink your physical copy library you’ve been creating over the years.

All together it’s an interesting year for video game demographics. We’re advancing towards a more inclusive and diverse video game population, but we’re still taking strides. As we see, it’s not always a one way street towards equal demographics, as the numbers and ratios of gamers will flucate over time.

In the upcoming weeks I hope to use all of this research to best come up with a picture of the the average gamer and evaluate what insight we can pull from understanding the typical gamer.

***Please keep in mind that this data is representative of a survey population and does not neccessarly represent the entire population of gamers. While it is probably the best research and data we have on the subject, a population of 4000 households  is still just a survey population attempting to make statements for a population that is increasingly changing and growing.

Useful Links:

ESA 2015 Essential Facts

ESA 2014 Essentail Facts

ESA’s Website

ESA: 2014 Facts and Stats About Video Game Consumption

The Entertainment Software Association has released their annual report about video game consumption and demographics. For those new to the ESA, these statistics are gathered by the foremost collectors of video game demographics and stats in the industry. Here is the entire report for 2014 in PDF Form. Give it a read, it’s quick and very easy to read.

The ESA is super helpful for anyone interested in video games and sociology, as they do all the grunt work to figure out gaming population and trends.

Last year I posted the 2013’s report in some dept, but let’s see what has changed, stayed the same, or is new.

whos playing

The number of people playing video games has increased! Compared to last year, the percentage of people playing video games has increased from 58% to 59%. That means more and more gamers are becoming the norm.


Digital sale of video games have surpassed physical sales of video games. What does this mean? This means that less physical games were sold in 2013 than digital video games. This is majorly due to the increase of popularity of mobile apps and online digital purchases, but it is interesting nonetheless. Now that it is easier to download games online over avenues such as the app store or Steam it is becoming more and more apart of the norm.

Who is the average gamer?

Although the demographics aren’t that different from last year, it is still worth looking into the average gamer:


The industry is steadily growing to be a more adult one, with AAA titles mainly being made for gamers 16+. That said your average gamer is still an adult male, but more and more women are becoming apart of the gaming sphere; they’re really closing in! This could be in part due to the increase of popular mobile games aimed and women and girls, but also due to women becoming PC and Console gamers as well.

That’s all I’ll say about this years findings for right now, but please do go and read the ESA’s finding for 2014: they have an array of information from demographics to sales. I’ll try and edit or expand on these demographics and stats in the near future.

ESA Website