We all know the clichéd view of the typical gamer: an adolescent male, probably closeted away in a basement bedroom at his parents’ house. In reality the gaming demographic has changed quite drastically over recent years. According to a report by the Entertainment Software Association almost two thirds of all gamers in the US were male just ten years ago. In 2006 the gender split was 63% male to 37% female but by 2014 the division had almost disappeared, with the gaming population being 52% male and 48% female.
The gender divide wasn’t the only demographic that was changing. According to the report, adult female gamers outnumbered teenaged boys in the US by 36% to 17%, or more than two to one. The number of female gamers over 50 had also increased by a third.
These numbers were backed up by a Pew Research Center study from 2015, which showed that around half (49%) of all adults in the US sometimes played video games “on a computer, TV, game console, or portable device like a cell phone.” This was an almost even split; 50% of all men and 48% of all women played games at least occasionally.
There appear to be a number of reasons for these changes. The rising age of the average gamer is at least partly a generational issue. The kids who played Pong in the 70s, used Atari consoles or early home computers in the 80s, or got Sony Playstations and Xboxes in the 90s and early 2000s are now an older gaming generation. Many will be parents themselves and may well play games with their kids.
The accessibility and type of games available has also had a profound effect on who is actually playing them. In particular, the advent of online games played via the Internet browser, mobile apps or social media sites. Many ‘casual’ games can be dipped in and out of and don’t require as great a commitment of time and effort as more sophisticated console or PC games. There’s also been an upsurge of online gambling and reliable online operators such as BookiePlanet, who cover a wide range of games and sporting events. This means there is an appeal that crosses gender and age divides across all sports. Check out their section for Horse Racing as an example: http://www.bookieplanet.com/horse-racing-betting-sites. This demonstrates the wide niche they cover, there really is something for everyone!
While more women than ever are playing these so-called casual games however, there does still seem to be a bit more of a divide when it comes to the more hardcore gamer. In 2015 only two of the top 200 top earning e-sports stars in the world were women. E-sports – the professional, competitive version of video gaming – is on the rise but it does represent an extreme level of gaming dedication. In the Pew report however, only 10% of American adults considered themselves to be ‘gamers’ and men were twice as likely as women to identify themselves as such. It depends on the definition but if anyone who plays games can be considered a gamer, then the gaming world is certainly no longer a predominantly male domain.