Video Games Provide Entertainment for All Ages

August 7, 2020

ESA Age Breakdown Video Game Players Aug2020Playing video games continues to be a favorite pastime for Americans, with three-quarters of US households having at least one video game player. And, while 7 in 10 Americans under the age of 18 play video games regularly, a new report [pdf] from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) shows that video games hold appeal across all age groups.

Of the more than 214 million video game players in the US, the largest share are between the ages of 18-34 (38%). Adults ages 35-54 make up the second-largest share of gamers (36%), followed by those under the age of 18 (21%). Although the 55+ crowd makes up a much smaller share, they are still represented, with 55-64-year-olds making up 9% of gamers and adults ages 65 and older accounting for 6% of all US video game players.

Where and When Do Gamers Play?

Smartphones appear to be the most common device for adults to play video games, with 6 in 10 (61%) saying this is one of the devices they use for gaming. Also on the list of most common devices for gaming are computers – used by 40% of adult gamers.

A little more than half (52%) of adult gamers indicate they use a game console. Hardware and peripherals for gaming is a thriving business. Almost three-quarters (73%) of gamers say they own a game console. Another 43% own a handheld system, while others report owning a VR device (29%) or a mobile VR device (25%).

The fact that smartphones are one of the most commonly used devices for gaming is not surprising considering that many adults tend to play on-the-go. Although 51% say they play after work or school, others report playing while waiting for appointments (30%), during a break at work or school (26%) or during a commute (15%).

Differences in Age and Gender

Here are a few highlights regarding video game playing among the different age groups and genders:

  • Three-quarters of male gamers ages 18-34 and 70% ages 35-54 play games on a video console, while 77% of women ages 18-34 and 78% ages 35-54 prefer to play on their smartphone;
  • Smartphones are also the preferred gaming device for both men (56%) and women (63%) between the ages of 55 and 64;
  • The oldest age group (65+) prefers to game on their PC (men: 68%, women: 60%);
  • Some 87% of men and 82% of women ages 55-64 say that games provide mental stimulation; and
  • More than half (55%) of women ages 18-24 say that games help them stay connected with friends and family, while a full 70% of men in that age group say the same.

COVID-19’s Impact On Gaming?

Additional data from The NPD Group shows that COVID-19 has impacted engagement with video games. More than one-third (35%) of gamers say they are spending more time playing video games than they did a year ago. And, while most report increased engagement on platforms they were already using pre-COVID-19 (94%), 6% say they have specifically begun to use a new device during this time.

The full report of ESA’s findings can be found here.

About the Data: Figures based on a survey of roughly 4,000 Americans about their gaming habits.

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