Gaming is no longer considered a niche word or market. The worldwide market for video games is slated to reach an astounding $545.98 billion by 2028 from $203.12 billion in 2020. Over the years, several concerted researches have been conducted to understand the reach of gaming in our society. Studies have also tried to find out the definition of the term “gamer” – by interviewing a range of people who played video games fairly regularly.
The percentage of video game players who identify themselves as gamers remains low
Back in 2015, a study revealed some interesting statistics about video games and gamers. For example, while the percentage of men and women who said that they played games on mobile, PC, or console was almost identical (50% men v/s 48% women), over 60% of all Americans thought people identified as gamers were predominantly male. Also, while 49% of Americans played some form of video games, only 10% considered themselves gamers (15% men, 6% women).
Mid and younger millennials have much more propensity to identify themselves as gamers
When we consider mobile gaming, the number of people who play occasionally or frequently increases to 78.2%. Mobile gaming has all but exploded in recent years, fueled by the incredible accessibility boom of smart devices in developing countries. AdColony’s Modern Mobile Report shows that people born between 1986-1995 are more likely to self-identify themselves as gamers – 22.5% more than Gen Z, and a whopping 63.4% more than older millennials and Gen X counterparts.
A variety of reasons may be behind this. Video games, especially in consoles and PCs, proliferated in the ‘90s and early 2000s – becoming a pop-culture staple. Millennials born around that era were part of that phenomenon. Many among them still consider video games as a hobby – a good pastime.
On the other hand, Gen Z is part of a time when games have been all but normalized into a part of our daily lives. It can be one of the primary reasons why, despite playing mobile games 5% more than their closest millennial age demographic, they are 20% less likely to self-identify as gamers. Similarly, video games’ cultural and socio-economical importance is not as prolific in the older age group, which accounts for their 3/5th less likelihood to call themselves gamers.
Men identify as gamers more than women, in general
There is a large gender-skewing when it comes to people identifying themselves as gamers. More often than not, men identify as gamers more than women. Across the 18-29 age demographic, the difference is much wider, more than 3x – between men (33%) and women (9%) who consider themselves as gamers. As we move towards older age groups, the gap closes significantly. 15% men between 30-49 years of age identify as gamers, compared to 7% women. For ages 50 and older, both men (4%) and women (3%) are equally unlikely to self-identify as gamers.
Self-identified gamers do not belong to a single socioeconomic group:
AdColony’s study also reveals that the population that identifies themselves as gamers comes from various income groups. The top two spots are taken by households with incomes of $250,000 or more per year, closely followed by houses with annual incomes of $50,000 or less. This staggering statistic tells us that gaming is not limited to a single income group in society – instead, it has a universal reach. However, the study discovers a trend in the frequency of games being played in a household and their average annual income. The more income a household has – the more time they invest in playing games, especially mobile games.
Increasing popularity of social games – especially puzzles and word games is propelling more people to play video games regularly:
Puzzle and word games have brought more people together in the virtual world than most AAA titles. These games are often devoid of any learning curve, can be played on virtually any device, and require little to no system prowess to run. Simple, fun, and varied enough to be engaging – trivia, puzzle, word games continue to dominate the charts on all platforms. Games like PeopleFun and WordScapes have also attracted more people, especially from the older age demographic, to play more frequently.
Self-identification is often disregarded by scientists while they collate their data to research the effects of gaming. Nebraska-based sociologist Lisa Kort-Butler has done extensive analysis into the reasons why many, despite playing video games quite regularly, are not eager to identify themselves as gamers. “Persisting, pejorative stereotypes surrounding the physical, social and mental wellbeing of those who game“ is often the culprit behind such low numbers, says Kort-Butler. In addition, the lack of a concrete set of characteristics makes someone a ‘gamer,’ and the picture gets even murkier. Lastly, the evolution of video games to an everyday staple and the biggest industry in the world has also diluted the need for people to self-identify themselves as purveyors of something niche.
Whether you self-identify as a gamer should not matter if you love and continue to play video games – be it on PC, consoles, or mobile devices. Video games have emerged as one of the great social equalizers in recent years, prompting more people to accept them in their daily lives, minus the stigma of being called a gamer.