Do you like to play video games?
You’re in good company, according to the just-released 2022 Essential Facts about the Video Game Industry report, which found that roughly two-thirds of Americans — more than 215 million people — regularly play games.
While unsurprising to many, three-quarters of gamers are over the age of 18, belying the common stereotype of a media dominated by kids, tweens and young teens.
In fact, the average age of a video game player today is 33, according to the report commissioned by the Entertainment Software Association, the Washington, DC-based organization that serves as the voice and advocate for the American video game industry.
“The fact that we’re seeing more people over 45 playing than under 18 is just a testament to the growth and adoption of the gameplay and how people, even later in life, continue to turn to gaming,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, ESA President and CEO, said in a phone interview with USA TODAY. “We’ve found every gaming demographic whether on PC, console or mobile device and there’s something for everyone.”
In other words, whether you’re a daily Wordle player or slaying enemies in a fantasy RPG like Elden Ring, a player is a player.
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Find gamers on their phones and consoles
The most popular gaming platform? The smartphone, according to 70% of the respondents of this study as the “preferred” device for gaming, followed by a video game console (52%), a personal computer (43%), a tablet/iPad (26%) and a headset virtual reality (seven%). Around 60% of people surveyed say they enjoy playing on multiple devices.
Puzzles are the most popular
At 65%, puzzle games were the most popular genre.
More gamers over the age of 65 say they gamble to “use my brain” than any other age group (68%). For men, two-thirds also gamble for fun (67%) and to pass the time (66%), a similar number of women also gamble to pass the time (70%) and to relax and unwind (66 %).
“Equally interesting, perhaps, is the fact that 48% of gamers identify as female and 52% as male, and therefore an almost equal gender split,” adds Pierre-Louis, alluding to the popular misconception that gamers are predominantly male.
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why we play
The 2022 Essential Facts about the Video Game Industry report is not just about who plays games, but why people play them.
The most common reasons are that video games bring joy (93%), provide mental stimulation (91%) and relieve stress (89%).
“One area that made us happy is that of mental health,” says Pierre-Louis. “Especially with the isolation caused by the pandemic, people have connected through games and shared experiences.”
“In 2020, 65% of people said they played together, which rose to 77% in 2021 and now it’s an incredible 83% who play together,” he adds. “Games have become a great way to socialize with people and connect with family and friends as well as the global community.”
Additionally, families also see the benefits of playing video games together, according to the ESA, with 77% of parents regularly playing video games with their children.
“Our research confirms that video games contribute to positive mental well-being, help develop important life skills, and provide connection and joy,” says Pierre-Louis. “More broadly, 97% of Americans agree that video games have positive benefits.”
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Pierre-Louis says he’s also happy to see a lot more inclusivity in games – both among game developers and game players – compared to years past: “What we’ve seen over the last few years it’s the encouragement to create opportunities for people from underrepresented communities to add their voice to the gameplay community and so you now see more games from different perspectives, sometimes along racial lines, criteria gender, from the LGTBQ+ community and with those with physical limitations.
(Pierre-Louis also cites the Xbox Adaptive Controller as a “wonderful tool” for those with dexterity issues to enjoy games, which “levels the playing field,” literally.)
E3 will be “back in force” in 2023
Usually hosted by ESA every June in Los Angeles, Expo E3 2022 was preemptively canceled during the omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be back in full force next year.
“We are excited to return in 2023 with both a digital and in-person event,” says Pierre-Louis. “As much as we love these digital events and as much as they reach people and we want this global reach, we also know there’s a very strong desire for people to come together – to be able to connect in person and see each other. and talk about what makes games great.
At last year’s digital-only E3, diversity, equity and inclusion were key themes, including the ESA’s announced million-dollar partnership with Black Girls Code to help educate and to support girls interested in technology and an interactive panel that discussed a Gerald A. Lawson endowment fund at the University of Southern California (USC), to support black and indigenous students who want to pursue an education undergraduate or graduate degrees in video game design and computer science.