I’ve long kind of accepted that my passion of the written word is a dying art. Indeed, I am probably at the most irrelevant that I’ve ever been. It’s kind of sad-making. Nobody likes to read. There is a Facebook page specifically dedicated to the hatred of reading. I guess what I have to say has less and less market with each passing year. Sad-making. However, when I came across the Entertainment Software Association’s sales, demographic and usage data report for 2015, I got to have a lot of big thoughts. Part of that made me feel pretty happy. In other ways, I feel so outdated. Maybe I am just not meant to be part of the culture we live in now. Sigh.
But let’s not get hung up on the negatives, because this report (linked here) has a TON of neat facts that validate a lot of what I’ve said over the last year or so, since GamerGate became a thing, 8 months ago. It’s been going on that long. Proud, I am, of this social movement. We are a union of men, women, gay, straight, trans, black, white, and everything in-between. We’ve done stuff. But, let’s get to talking about some stuff in this report that I found interesting.
The first thing to know is that the average age of a gamer is 35. Remember when ABC did that hit-piece/click-bait piece on GameGate and they said that gamers are just boys in basements? Yeah, they are even bigger idiots. But again, they admitted that their news report was click-bait. That’s what all media has become. It’s all click-bait garbage, fueled by people with an axe to grind. 30% of the gaming demographic is between 18-35. So yeah, boys in basements my ass. The average age of male gamers is 35. For women, get this – it’s 43! This has confirmed something that I’ve long understood – a large majority of women who game are mobile gamers. The ESA calculated the age and everything else by analyzing game sales as a whole, not looking at different genres. But yeah, the bulk of female gamers are middle-aged moms on their phones. I have no problem with that. But when you have the likes of Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian telling us that women are their market for competitive action games, they are wrong. This is nothing new. Christina Hoff Sommers made a video this whole thing about video games being sexist and how that isn’t true, which I will link here. Check it out.
Something I want to bring up is this whole deal about parents not knowing what kinds of games their kids play. I’ve always know that that’s bullshit, and now we have documented evidence of this. 69% of parents check the ratings of the games that they buy their kids. 91% of parents believe in parental controls and over 70% of parents limit how much game, Internet and TV time their kids spend per day. 94% of parents pay attention to what kinds of games their kids play. 59% of parents play games with their kids. That’s a sign that this whole thing about gamers having loser parents is bullshit. It’s a stereotype, and it needs to end. And get this – 75% of parents who game with their kids say that they are asked to. That’s awesome! That helps debunk another stereotype – that gaming causes people to be lonely outcasts. Not only is it social, but participation with the people close to you matters, to kids who game. That is a great thing. Gaming has always been a social experience, and now we get to see how much.
But here’s the thing that I really wanted to touch on – factors influencing video game purchases. This was fascinating. Part of it gave me hope. Another part makes me sad, because it shows how out of touch I am. How does that work? Well, let’s analyze it. See, I’m a story-seeker with games. So long as it has a good story and the gameplay elements work, the rest is just details. For some time, I’ve believed that I’m the only one who feels this way. Or at least, part of a small sect of society. But it seems that I’m not as alone as I thought. Of the many reasons why people play games, 22% buy games for interesting story/premise. That’s actually kind of refreshing. But that’s not the only interesting thing. I have said before how the accolades of YouTube personalities like Angry Joe, Total Biscuit, and PewDiePie can make or break a game’s reputation. It seems that market forces agree with me. 11% of game sales are motivated by word of mouth. Part of that is friends telling friends that games are good, and another part is online personalities telling them that games are good.
However, there is another part of the numbers that depresses me. Only 3% of game sales are motivated by reviews and games media as a whole. In other words – the written press. Like me. It seems that my kind of work is outdated. I am no longer seen as the kind of person that people listen to. In one respect, I already knew this. The death of print journalism has been going on for a long time. But on the other hand – I’m a writer! This is what I do. And I’d like to think that I’m damn good at this. So what am I to do if the audience for what I do is all dried up? It’s a very sobering thought, ladies and gentlemen. I may be setting myself up for failure, as an obsolete relic of a by-gone era. That is very sad.
The bottom line of the report is that video games was an industry worth over $22 billion this past year. That’s a huge fucking industry! For real, anyone who says that video games are just the hobby of boys in basements has clearly never seen just how massive this industry has become. That’s pretty astounding. They end their report with a rather amusing quote from a guy talking about how us gamers are the only reason that graphical fidelity means as much as it does. While I myself don’t need the most cutting-edge visuals in a game, I still think it’s funny all the same. Gamers are changing the face of business in this country. We are ruining the movie industry (Yay!), since AAA game releases can have bigger opening than films. We are part of a much larger tapestry that is the economy than we might think. That’s pretty cool.
Until next time, a quote,
“It’s Latin. Sic Parvis Magna. It means ‘Greatness From Small Beginnings.'” -Nathan Drake, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception