How old is the typical gamer?
It's a question of when and how often a person plays video games that matters more to us than the age of the gamer.
The age of a typical video game player is 18 years of age or older. In some countries, gamers tend to be a little younger and younger.
For example, 20% of the gamer population in Sweden, on average, are under 18 years of age. For a few countries, video games have become the new social platform (like Japan).
On average, however, these are both very young gamers. While some people take on a full-time job and remain on the computer playing video games all day long, most people play when they are in between jobs.
Most people get a gaming console for the family and play with their kids (or spouse), and just hang out with family and friends while playing.
Age ranges are more common among males than females.
This article will discuss how old the typical gamer is, and where they come from. In doing so, I hope to illuminate trends in gamer demographics and best practices.
The following data, culled from the 2015 Digital Youth Survey from Digital Design & Learning and Game Developers Conference (GDC), is taken from a larger representative pool of US gamers; to help determine the median age for gamers, I derived the average in that pool of gamers who self-report “an interest in gaming.”
Due to a lack of age data in previous research, I asked the question on Twitter and received a good amount of commentary. I will now parse the feedback into three distinct categories:
You’re pushing the limits of the data.
Is “typical” really the appropriate phrase to use? Given the samples sizes, the ability to define what “typical” looks like is limited.
For instance, while many are claiming the median age is in their mid-teens, I noted this comment from Rob Enderle in which he asserts that the people doing the survey are those in their late-20s.
Even using the maximum from the demographic and allowing for a bit of youth skew, Enderle would be projecting a median age of around 40. If you take a younger millennial, this age makes more sense.
If you use a slightly older millennial, this age makes more sense. If you use a slightly older baby boomer, this age makes more sense.
According to your framing of the question, I’d argue there is an opportunity to report on the level of non-gamer adoption.
In other words, “half the population are not gamers.” What if, instead of saying they are younger than 40, we said they are below 40.
At the very least, it’s an opportunity to define the word “typical” in a different manner. If we look at a larger demographic, the people who are in the ballpark of a “typical” gamer.
If we have a birth cohort such as those born in 1992 or 1995, that should be the cut off for these samples.
The survey also offers some additional details on the age breakdown for each demographic.
Many of you criticized my use of the word “typical” above. I am not suggesting a specific age range for players.
The group I’m interested in is a demographic—those below and above the age of 40—so I’ll define that as the ones in the following age range:
It is my impression that the older gamers will be more apt to play games with larger armies and in more open worlds. The younger players are more apt to play games with simpler (more simplified) set pieces and characters.
Older gamers are also more likely to play games with physics that will require a significant amount of time to create. In particular, I found that older gamers were more likely to play games with realistic physics, sometimes referred to as a “Mature Audience.”
This includes games that require full modding, rather than less active games.
The research indicates that the age range where gamers start to make serious money is beginning to approach the age where many are reaching retirement.
This is not surprising; most of us are finding that if we are still in the workforce, we will likely need to make some kind of money and there is no harm in starting early. At least, for now.
But it would seem to me that this is a great window for people in their 20s or early 30s to dive into the world of gaming. The job market is fairly strong.
The potential for being a game developer and making a good living are greater than ever. And the opportunity is there to be involved early.
But there are those who see these young gamers as a potential threat to the gaming industry.
There is something inherently dangerous about young gamers—less developed than those of us raised in the 60s and 70s, but somehow the world will adjust.
One day, gamers may be as common as jaywalkers, but that’s a post for another day.
For the moment, let’s just enjoy the fact that the next generation of gaming is growing up.