Play is a huge part of cognitive and social development in childhood, and games are a huge part of play. It therefore comes as no surprise that many people assume video games are child’s play.
Nevertheless, it is a profoundly odd assumption. For starters, the demographics that have made gaming the UK’s largest entertainment activity are the 90% of young men (aged 15-34 years) who believe home entertainment to be essential, the 73% of mums all over the world playing games and the new generation of young adults who are turning competitive gaming into a career.
Furthermore, Games are just one part of what cultural theorists such as Roger Caillois have recognised as play, with others including performance, risk and chance taking, and thrill seeking. Going to the theatre, riding roller coasters and playing traditional sports such as football are all recognised as open to people of almost all ages, so placing gaming on a pedestal does not make much sense.
It also does not reflect the reality of gaming consumption. The IAB have revealed that 27% of the gaming population are over the age of forty-four, where only 22% are children and teenagers. This top-heavy weighting may explain why the most popular gaming genres are word and trivia puzzles such as Scrabble.
It is true that larger numbers of the younger demographics play games in comparison to their older counterparts. 99% of 8-17-year-olds play video games in comparison to just over half of 45-54-year-olds playing regularly. This shrinks to 32% by the time the 65-74-year-old age bracket is reached, however these are still significant market shares.
For context, 62% of the 65+ market use Facebook in comparison to a suspected 78% of under-13s and 96% of 13-18 year-olds, although figures are harder to know in light of child data protection regulations. Statistically gaming is a better way of reaching younger audiences than older ones in comparison to other methods of online engagement but this does not mean gaming is only for kids.
From the enormous pulling power of eSports to the fact that the largest gaming demographic in the UK is women aged 25-44 years old, the evidence that gaming appeals to people of every age and creed is overwhelming:
Gaming is not just for kids.
· Some of the world’s most famous gaming titles, including parts of the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed series are rated 18+
· Gaming is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Creative Industries because of its widespread appeal
· Many games that have led to cartoons and films aimed at younger audiences have started life as being intended for adults, including Angry Birds.