ESA Study Finds Women Make Up Nearly Half of Gamer Population

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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ESA Study Finds Women Make Up Nearly Half of Gamer Population


The latest research to come out of the Entertainment Software Association has determined that adult women gamers in the U.S. significantly outnumber teenage boys.

The ESA's "Essential Facts About the Computer and Videogame Industry" study for 2013 has found that the gamer audience in the U.S. is almost evenly divided between men and women - 45 percent female, 55 percent male - which in itself won't be very surprising to anyone who actually pays attention to this business. What is somewhat surprising, at least at first glance, is the difference in numbers between adult women and teenage boys: women 18 or older make up 31 percent of the "game-playing population," while boys 17 or younger account for only 19 percent. There's obviously far more room under that age-based tent for females than males, but the number nonetheless proves false the stereotype of the youthful, wasting-his-life "average" gamer to whom we are entrusting our increasingly dismal-looking future.

A few other interesting numbers: 51 percent of all U.S. households own at least one dedicated game console and those that do actually own an average of two; 58 percent of all Americans play videogames; and the average age of gamers in the U.S. is 30. On the parental side of the coin, 52 percent of parents say games "are a positive part of their child's life," 58 percent play videogames with their kids at least once a month and 93 percent say they "pay attention to the content of the games their children play."

"This new data underscores the remarkable upward trajectory for videogames. It is an entertainment form enjoyed by hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide," said ESA President and CEO Michael D. Gallagher. "A diverse and energized consumer base, remarkable new hardware, and outstanding software all combine to foster growth for our industry."

The "2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry" is available in full in PDF format at theesa.com [http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2013.pdf].


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Genocidicles

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What does it take for someone to be qualified as a gamer though? I mean studies such as these usually consider someone who plays a bit of interactive televison a gamer.

I'm more interested in what percentage of core gamers are female.
 

Kopikatsu

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Genocidicles said:
What does it take for someone to be qualified as a gamer though? I mean studies such as these usually consider someone who plays a bit of interactive televison a gamer.

I'm more interested in what percentage of core gamers are female.
That was what I'd planned on bringing up. Generally wherever I go, most players are male (if voice chat is anything to go by)
 

mechalynx

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Mar 23, 2008
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Well, I've seen my mom click away on Solitaire and Bejeweled. I can safely say that she is no gamer.

I say, if you never threw a controller into the wall or smashed your mouse, you are no gamer, just like messing around with fingerpaints in my youth does not make me a painter.

A player, maybe.
 

RoBi3.0

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Genocidicles said:
What does it take for someone to be qualified as a gamer though? I mean studies such as these usually consider someone who plays a bit of interactive televison a gamer.

I'm more interested in what percentage of core gamers are female.
Define core gamers? I think this whole nonsense of your not really a gamer unless you insert X is silly. If you enjoy playing any video game on a regular basis, you are welcome to the gamer party.
 

Legion

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Oct 2, 2008
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The funny thing is, the gamer stereotype of it being for "teenage boys" is far more prevalent outside of the gaming community than inside. I read a survey today about the "ten most immature things that women dislike about men" and playing computer games was one of them.

Despite gaming being a billion dollar industry, including advertisements on the television played during major sporting events and such, it is still seen by the general public as being something for "neck beard virgins who live in their mothers basements" or in more polite terms "toys for boys".

RoBi3.0 said:
Genocidicles said:
What does it take for someone to be qualified as a gamer though? I mean studies such as these usually consider someone who plays a bit of interactive televison a gamer.

I'm more interested in what percentage of core gamers are female.
Define core gamers? I think this whole nonsense of your not really a gamer unless you insert X is silly. If you enjoy playing any video game on a regular basis, you are welcome to the gamer party.
I agree in regards to the social element. The whole "They are not a true gamer because they don't like COD" is pathetic.

But the issue is when you get people claiming that because X percentage of gamers are [insert demographic here], the Triple A industry should be changing the types of games they make to appeal to those people.

Activision and other such large companies do not make the kinds of games that the average Bejewelled and Angry Bird fan would enjoy, so suggesting that because they make up a large percentage of gamers, such companies should try appealing to them, does not make any sense.

Adult women make up 31% of the gaming population according to this study, and teenage males make up 19%. What would those percentages be for Halo, COD or Assassins Creed for example? I'd imagine it'd be closer to 90%+ of teenage males, to adult women (assuming you only looked at those two demographics). Using the percentages of gamers overall when discussing what direction developers take their specific genre of games, is nonsensical.

Side-Note: I will point out here that I am not in any shape or form suggesting people are wrong for wanting a particular demographic to be better represented. I am merely pointing out that using statistics such as these as a reason, is a poor line of argument. They are far too vague, and ignore the fact that liking one kind of game, does not mean you will automatically like another. So the statistics mean nothing when applied to specific things such as the Triple A gaming industry.
 

AgedGrunt

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Look at the PDF, under "Types of online games played most often":

Puzzle, Board game, game show, trivia, card games = 34%

The technical definition of gamer includes people who play solitaire and Family Feud with those running Halo and Dark Souls. While it's fascinating to look at big picture stuff, this is a massively broad label to consider.
 

Genocidicles

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RoBi3.0 said:
Define core gamers?
Well the NPD currently classes it as someone who plays action/sports/shooter/racing game on an Xbox/PlayStation/PC/Mac for more than five hours a week.

And yes, we are all gamers. However we need to be categorized for marketing purposes. You can't make a game and just aimlessly target it at 'gamers'. You need to definite it's target audience more than that.
 

FalloutJack

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Nov 20, 2008
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Why should this surprise me? Gaming has never actually been considered a man's world alone.
 

sid

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I keep hearing that, but where the hell are they? Correct me if I'm wrong, but most communities are composed primarily of guys. Same thing with the industry itself. I keep getting told every user has just under 50% chance of being a chick but it doesn't really seem to apply when you look at the users, does it
 

IndomitableSam

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Sigh.

Really? This is turning into a "well, girls aren't hardcore gamers so they don't count" argument? Seriously? If it's not the women part, it's the credibility of gamerd based on what they play. Why s elitist? It just makes you sound like a jerk. Even if someone plays Bejewled or Peggle or Farmville, they're gamers, because they're spending money in the industry. Is their money less important than COD or Halo or RPG players?

I'm sure big (and small) companies don't care if it's a 50-something housewife plopping down $10 for a new puzzle game every few months, or a 20-year old guy buying the latest AAA title - they're still spending the same amount of money, so they deserve the same kind of attention.

... This coming from a 30-year-old "hardcore" female gamer, who has been the "core" demographic since the NES was released. Because apparently that matters to some people who aren't part of the industry it matters to.

Also... really? There are people on the Escapist who don't pay enough attention to realise that there are a lot of female gamers out there? We exist, people. In droves. We're not special.
 

RoBi3.0

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Genocidicles said:
RoBi3.0 said:
Define core gamers?
Well the NPD currently classes it as someone who plays action/sports/shooter/racing game on an Xbox/PlayStation/PC/Mac for more than five hours a week.

And yes, we are all gamers. However we need to be categorized for marketing purposes. You can't make a game and just aimlessly target it at 'gamers'. You need to definite it's target audience more than that.
This makes sense.

I know this is just my experience but I know an astronomical amount of women gamers. So much so that that 45% sounds very reasonable to me.
 

faefrost

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Isn't the core definition of gamer someone who spends disposable income on games they like and then plays those games? I don't think our little club has an entrance exam? And believe it or not Words with Friends is just as valid a type of gaming experience as Call of Duty.
 

Stevepinto3

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The reactions to this in the vein of "well yeah my mom plays Bejewled but that doesn't count" probably speak louder than the results themselves.

It shows that 1) We've still to break this barrier where you either play casual facebook games or are teh hardcorez and there is little to no gradient and 2) Just how bad of a job the AAA industry is doing at reaching out to anything besides 15-25 year old males.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Ok, they play games. Surely the massive female-friendly E3 showings will get them to play more AAA games and perhaps give the industry another market it so desperately needs! Maybe finally get some damn diversity!

Oh no wait gamers will just say they're not "true" gamers and then say the lack of women is just the way the market is and male-games are what it wants and they should just deal with it.

Because the fact that it's what the market wants totally excuses it. I mean, that's why everyone should shut up about the Xbone and Micro-transactions. It's what the market seems to be wanting, so therefore everyone should shut up about it and just "deal with it".

Do I sound a bit upset? Well maybe I am. You'd be upset too when you realize that Hollywood is better at racial and gender diversity than video games. Fucking Hollywood.

Stevepinto3 said:
The reactions to this in the vein of "well yeah my mom plays Bejewled but that doesn't count" probably speak louder than the results themselves.

It shows that 1) We've still to break this barrier where you either play casual facebook games or are teh hardcorez and there is little to no gradient and 2) Just how bad of a job the AAA industry is doing at reaching out to anything besides 15-25 year old males.
Also what he said.
 

BurningWyvern90

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sid said:
I keep hearing that, but where the hell are they?
Right here. :p And my roommates, too. We do exist, I promise.

Yeah, it's been this way for a while now, though, so I don't know why it's big news. And I'm sure a lot of it includes casual games, but we DO play other things. I think part of the reason a lot of women gamers haven't broken into any communities, speaking from my own point of view, is that men still either 1.) don't believe we know how to hold the controller/mouse properly, let alone how to play a 'real' game, and 2.) treat us mainly like sex objects.

Now obviously I realize this isn't true. Hell, I have a LOT of guy friends and none of them are like that. But as a stereotyped whole, that's still how it feels. Also, I know that I don't use things like Xbox Live Chat partly because I don't like people and partly because everyone will call you out and taunt you, if not be outright rude, if you give any indication you're female.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see how many women play casual games versus others, but I doubt it's as lopsided as everyone still seems to think. I'm slightly insulted that that's the automatic assumption.