Eight of Ten Households Have a Gaming Device

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Eight of Ten Households Have a Gaming Device

Once upon a time--we'll call it about the 1990s or so--in a place not so far away that we'll call the United States, video gaming was largely the province of social outcasts. To be a gamer back then was an invitation to mockery, and as such developed something of a brotherhood. That's not being sexist, either; gaming back then was largely the province of the male persuasion, despite how much many of us would have preferred it otherwise. But times have changed, as times so often do, and new reports from the Entertainment Software Association show just how much.

The brick to the face that is the headline is perhaps the centerpiece of the ESA's report, titled "2015 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry". The report notes that eight in ten households, on average, have a gaming system in place. Spending is positively staggering as well, with $22.41 billion spent on games in just 2014 alone. 42 percent of Americans--nearly a clear majority!--spend at least three hours a week on gaming, and each household on average has two gamers involved. A clear majority of houses, 51 percent, has a traditional game console in the house.

However, the study does note that there's a lot of variation in the term "gaming device. A PC is considered one, for example, and 62 percent of the most frequent gamers turn to such devices for play. There's plenty of overlap, however, as 56 percent turn to consoles followed by smartphones at 35 percent. Pure handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita represent the smallest amount at 21 percent.

The average gamer is a 35 year old male, who's been playing for an average of 13 years, an interesting number given that 35 year old males would have been around for not only the eight-bit Nintendo era but every subsequent era as well. However, this is a demographic likely to change; women 18 years and up make up a greater portion of gamers than boys 18 and younger. Though that's a bit skewed--18 and up is generally a larger population than 18 and down--there's still a suggestion that we could be seeing some real demographic change in the field as the next generation steps into play.

While these are just some highlights from the study, it suggests a few critical points. Gaming in general is more popular than it's ever been, and there are a lot more options for gamers than there ever were. The days of gamers being limited to the stereotyped image of basement-dwelling neckbeards coated in a layer of Cheeto dust swilling Mountain Dew and generally being non-inclusive. Gaming is reaching a wider, broader swath of the United States seemingly with every passing day, and that's going to make for some interesting times ahead. While there's likely to be some infighting and backbiting, as is commonly the case with a growing phenomenon--not to mention some concerns about a zero-sum game where newcomers mean losses for the old guard--there's also likely to be some great times ahead. Only time will tell what this brave new world looks like, but it could be very interesting all the same.

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