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ESA: Gamers are college educated, will vote

Trade group's latest annual survey looks to counter stereotypes of who plays games

The Entertainment Software Association today released its annual Essential Facts pamphlet, providing an interesting glimpse at the games industry sourced largely from an Ipsos Connect survey of some 4,000 American households.

As one might expect, many of the statistics change minimally from year to year. For example, this year's survey found 46% of gamers were female, compared to 45% last year. The average age of a gamer is 33, down from 34 in 2018's survey.

There were some slightly larger jumps, particularly in the way parents and children deal with games. In this year's survey, 90% of parents said they pay attention to the games their children play, down from 94% the year before. Additionally, 57% of parents said they played games with their children at least once a week, down from 67% in 2018.

However, this year's survey also sought to better understand the profiles and interests of American gamers, resulting in some new data points that haven't been tracked in previous years' surveys. For example, 52% of American gamers surveyed were college educated, and 59% said they will definitely vote in the next presidential election. 37% of gamers gave Democrat as their political affiliation, compared to 33% who were Republican. 18% considered themselves independent, while 12% gave other answers.

The study also compared gamers' answers to their non-gaming counterparts, and found a number of commonalities. The average 6.8 hours of sleep gamers reported getting a night was only slightly less than non-gamers' 7 hours of sleep, and gamers averaged slightly more exercise, camping trips, and international vacations annually than non-gamers. The ESA also noted that gamers were more likely than non-gamers to have a creative hobby like drawing or singing (56% to 49%), to play a musical instrument (32% to 27%), or to meditate regularly (32% to 27%).

Beyond the survey, the ESA also included some stats from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Of particular note is the drastic increase in physical and downloadable console games to receive ratings last year. In 2017, the ESRB doled out 1,948 ratings to console games. Last year, that jumped 42% to 2,768.

The share of games given each rating also shifted somewhat. Games rated E for Everyone saw a significant jump, going from 34% of all ESRB console ratings in 2017 to 42% of the (considerably more numerous) console games released in 2018. The other major rating categories all saw percentage declines year-over-year, with M for Mature going from 13% of the console ratings given out in 2017 to 9% of the ratings in 2018.

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