BREAKING NEWS: Adults Play Video Games!

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Two days ago, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report that details the (apparently shocking) phenomenon that about half of American adults play videogames (53%, to be exact). Sounds about right to me, though I just skimmed through a good dozen articles from all over the net that are making it sound like this is some big news. I agree with this Forbes blogger in that it isn’t the numbers that are surprising but how surprised everyone seems to be about them (must be that other 47%). It just goes to show how little understood gaming really is outside of itself.

After all, gaming permeates our culture. Look at Nintendo’s latest ad campaign. Gaming isn’t just for geeks anymore–Carrie Underwood plays Nintendogs! However, the problem, I think, is that this survey doesn’t differentiate between “gamers” and “people who play videogames.” At least, most of the reports on it aren’t. I mean, my mom plays Solitaire constantly on her iPhone, and so she fits into that 53%, but I would never in a million years refer to her as a “gamer.” I think the other 47% are seeing the headline “MORE THAN HALF OF AMERICANS ARE GAMERS” and picturing the other half of the country locked in their basements playing Halo and World of Warcraft.

There were a couple of detailed findings from the survey that I found interesting. For example, older adults (65+) who play games are about 10% more likely to play every day than younger people. Also, college graduates are about 20% more likely to play videogames than those without a high school diploma (the research specialist at Pew says that there’s no obvious reason for this one, but it seems to me that income level might be a skewing factor). And a score for recognition of girl gamers–50% of women play versus 55% of men.

Right now, age is the biggest demographic factor. Nearly every teenager plays videogames (97%) versus 81% of those 18-29 (that’s my box!) and 23% of the senior crowd (65+). My prediction is that this difference will just continue to flatten over time, as it’s more an issue of culture than circumstance. By the time digital natives (those born after 1980) are seniors, I suspect that most of us will be spending our retirements playing whatever the future equivalent of World of Warcraft is (I’m hoping for a metaverse myself).

[Image Source: Flickr]

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6 Responses to BREAKING NEWS: Adults Play Video Games!

  1. A better question facing the techies among us is the demographic difference in female computer programmers still pervasive on our college campuses. Less than 10% I think was the last statistic published.
    The reason I mention it is because one of their theories for why there is such a big difference in men vs. women is because of gamer culture that is largely sexist.
    Then again this could all be moot; as the article above mentions, there’s a big difference between ‘gamer’ and someone who plays videogames.

    • I’d be interested to see how those numbers have changed. In the five years I was at Georgia Tech, I saw the number of girls in the CS department increase noticeably.

      • Maria Klawe: Why do so few women major in computer science?

        More about women in CS

        With a quick Google search, I found this guy talking about the gender gap, and he links to numerous sources from here. They even mention your school Georgia Tech because they have >60% female enrollment in teaching CS through digital music and media. And this was all written in 2005, so a full 4-year term hasn't gone through yet. I'm sure if DRASTIC changes had occurred, it would've made more news, especially at a university level.

        As an act of self-torture, I read my school newspaper every week. I promise to the best of my recollection seeing zero in there about any drastic upswing.

  2. A better question facing the techies among us is the demographic difference in female computer programmers still pervasive on our college campuses. Less than 10% I think was the last statistic published.

    The reason I mention it is because one of their theories for why there is such a big difference in men vs. women is because of gamer culture that is largely sexist.

    Then again this could all be moot; as the article above mentions, there's a big difference between 'gamer' and someone who plays videogames.

    • I'd be interested to see how those numbers have changed. In the five years I was at Georgia Tech, I saw the number of girls in the CS department increase noticeably.

      • Maria Klawe: Why do so few women major in computer science?

        More about women in CS

        With a quick Google search, I found this guy talking about the gender gap, and he links to numerous sources from here. They even mention your school Georgia Tech because they have >60% female enrollment in teaching CS through digital music and media. And this was all written in 2005, so a full 4-year term hasn't gone through yet. I'm sure if DRASTIC changes had occurred, it would've made more news, especially at a university level.

        As an act of self-torture, I read my school newspaper every week. I promise to the best of my recollection seeing zero in there about any drastic upswing.