Here are some recent statistics (albeit gathered by the Entertainment Software Association) from the industry itself.  It might be interesting to look at the things that are not so surprising and the things a general audience might find interesting.  It is also important to recognize that this is the industry presenting data about itself (particularly on the section about video game violence), but it does shed some light about who plays, buys, uses video games and what they play, buy, and use.

entertainment_software_association_logoIndustry Facts

America’s entertainment software industry creates a wide array of computer and video games to meet the demands and tastes of audiences as diverse as our nation’s population. Today’s gamers include millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds.  In fact, more than two-thirds of all American households play games. This vast audience is fueling the growth of this multi-billion dollar industry and bringing jobs to communities across the nation.  Below is a list of the top 10 entertainment software industry facts:

  1. U.S. computer and video game software sales grew 22.9 percent in 2008 to $11.7 billion – more than quadrupling industry software sales since 1996.
  2. Sixty-eight percent of American households play computer or video games.
  3. The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.
  4. The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 39 years old.
  5. Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (34 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
  6. In 2009, 25 percent of Americans over the age of 50 play video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999.
  7. Thirty-seven percent of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.
  8. Eighty-four percent of all games sold in 2008 were rated “E” for Everyone, “T” for Teen, or “E10+” for Everyone 10+.  For more information on game ratings, please see www.esrb.org.
  9. Ninety-two percent of game players under the age of 18 report that their parents are present when they purchase or rent games.
  10. Sixty-three percent of parents believe games are a positive part of their children’s lives.

Sales & Genre Data

According to data compiled by the NPD Group, a global market research company, and released by the ESA in January 2009, computer and video game companies posted records sales in 2008.  The industry sold 297.6 million units, leading to an astounding $11.7 billion in revenue.  Of these sales:

  • Game console software sales totaled $8.9 billion with 189.0 million units sold;
  • Computer games sales were $701.4 million with 29.1 million units sold; and,
  • There was a record $2.1 billion in portable software sales with 79.5 million units sold.

The most popular game genre once again was “Family Entertainment,” which accounted for 19 percent of all games sold in 2008, up from 9.1 percent in 2006.   In addition, of the games sold in 2008, 57 percent were rated “Everyone (E)” or “Everyone 10+ (E10+).”  The NPD Group’s data also indicates that only 16 percent of games sold last year were rated “Mature (M).”

Games & Violence

Facts, common sense and numerous studies all debunk the myth that there is a link between computer and video games and violence.  Blaming video games for violence in the real world is no more productive than blaming the news media for bringing crimes of violence into our homes night after night.  Having someone or something to blame is convenient, especially after an incident of terrible and unexplainable violence.  But to do so is simplistic, and more importantly, it’s wrong.

Credible real-world evidence demonstrates the fallacy of linking games and violence:

  • Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s.  During the same period of time, video games have steadily increased in popularity and use, exactly the opposite of what one would expect if there were a causal link.
  • Many games with violent content sold in the U.S. — and some with far more violence — are also sold in foreign markets.  However, the level of violent crime in these foreign markets is considerably lower than that in the U.S., suggesting that influences such as the background of the individual, the availability of guns and other factors are more relevant to understanding the cause of any particular crime.
  • Numerous authorities, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and several U.S. District Courts have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between violent programming and violent behavior.

The truth is, there is no scientific research that validates a link between computer and video games and violence, despite lots of overheated rhetoric from the industry’s detractors.  Instead, a host of respected researchers has concluded that there is no link between media violence and violent crime.

Some facts about the computer and video game industry today may just surprise you:

  • The average gamer is 35 years old.
  • More than one-third of gamers are women .
  • More than one in four gamers is over 50.
  • The average game purchaser is 40 years old.
  • Sixty-three percent of parents believe games are a positive part of their children’s lives.
  • Sales of “family entertainment” video games more than doubled in 2007, making it the fastest growing segment of the video game market.
  • Ninety-four percent of the time, parents are present at the time games are purchased or rented.
  • Eighty-eight percent of the time, parents report always or sometimes monitoring the games their children play.
  • Seventy-five percent of parents believe that the parental controls available in all new video game consoles are useful.

From: http://www.theesa.com/facts/ with the fuller report at: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2009.pdf

Crossposted to the Critical Gaming Project @ UW: https://depts.washington.edu/critgame/wordpress/2010/04/fyi-video-game-statistics-by-the-entertainment-software-association/