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Study: The game population leans more male and less racially diverse

The US gaming population is slightly more male and less racially diverse than the country as a whole, but it is also growing, according to new data released on Tuesday by the industry’s leading trading group.

Why it matters: The annual Entertainment Software Association survey addressed the question of who plays games in America with an answer that gradually – with notable exceptions – becomes “most people.”

  • The survey among 4,000 Americans aged 18 and over evaluates gaming broadly, and looks at players and games of all types, from children to the elderly, people who play on tablets, consoles and PCs. (Read the full report.)
  • ESA states that the poll was conducted with an error margin of 1

Multiple players: ESA links the total gaming population in the US to 227 million, up from 214 million last year.

  • The average age of the American player is 31 (80% over 18).

Players are still mostly men: 45% of players identify themselves as women, 55% as men, according to ESA.

  • That compares with 51% of Americans who identify as women, according to estimates from the 2019 U.S. Census, in the last year available.

People of color also seem to be underrepresented: 73% of ESA respondents said they were white, 9% Spanish-speaking, 8% black and 6% Asian.

  • The census estimates for America as a whole are 19% Spanish, 13% Black and 6% Asian.
  • The difference can be attributed to countless factors, including gatekeeping, representation, and the class divisions that keep games, a rather expensive pastime, out of the hands of many.
  • Only the presence of this collapse, a first for ESA’s annual reports, is a breakthrough. Of the additions, ESA chief Stanley Pierre-Louis told Axios: “Our report seeks to recognize and quantify the level of engagement from different consumers.”

The effect of COVID seems most clear in ESA’s figures on games with others:

  • 77% of players play with others every week, up from 65% the year before.
  • 74% of parents play with players with their children, up from 55% the year before.

Bottom line: ESA’s findings show a more diverse player base that at least points to the stereotype of the player as a young white man.

  • “The video game industry is deeply invested in continuing to expand our player base by making games more accessible and reflective for all,” said Pierre-Louis, “as evidenced by the diverse diversity efforts across the industry.”

Editor’s Comment: This story has been updated since it originally stated that ESA only appeared to offer gender between men and women in the survey. ESA states that an “other / prefer not to answer” option is offered. It was not chosen by enough people to find out the percentage that was shared.

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