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Video Games Remain Lifelong Source of Entertainment for 190.6 Million Americans

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Annual data from the ESA reveal video games’ cultural and social emotional impact holds strong across generations.

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) today released its annual Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry report. The 2024 report details the number of Americans playing video games and for the first time provides qualitative insights into the positive impact of games across all demographics, including race, gender, ethnicity and age. This year’s report also marks the first time that children ages 5-17 are included in the quantitative data.

The 2024 Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry report shows that 61% of Americans ages 5-90 play video games, meaning approximately 190.6 million people play games at least one hour each week in the United States. The average player is 36 years old, and the average adult player has been playing for 17 years, demonstrating video games are a permanent pastime and source of entertainment for many players, not a fad or childhood hobby.  Positive sentiment toward video games remains strong amongst all Americans, not just those who play, as does the recognition of the mental and social benefits of video games.

“Video games have been a fixture in American life and culture for generations,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, President and CEO of the ESA. “Players of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are embracing the positivity that video games bring to their lives. While the games we play—and how we play them—evolves over time, what remains consistent is how video games enhance our lives in ways that inspire us and bring us closer together.”

Highlights from the 2024 Essential Facts report include:

Video game players reflect the diversity of American society.

  • The gender split of male and female players remains at about half-and-half – 53% of video game players identify as male, 46% identify as female and approximately 1% selected non-binary or preferred not to identify for the survey.
  • Of American adults who play video games, 75% are White, 19% are Hispanic, 12% are Black, 4% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 3% are Native American.

Video games are widely viewed as contributing to social and emotional wellbeing across all age groups.

  • A large majority of U.S. adults (79%) agree that video games bring people joy, provide mental stimulation (77%) and stress relief (76%).
  • Most players (77%) believe video games provide mental stimulation, with Boomers and the Silent Generation most likely to agree with this sentiment (92%) vs. Gen Z (84%).
  • Among adults, using video games to relax (68% of players) and to have fun (67% of players) are the top motivators to play.
  • Nearly three-quarters of American adults agree video games can help improve cognitive skills (73%) and provide accessible experiences for players with different abilities (74%).
  • U.S. adults also agree that video games can teach problem-solving (73%), teamwork and collaboration (64%), adaptability (59%), conflict resolution (47%) and communication (51%) skills.

Generation Alpha (Gen Alpha) and Generation Z (Gen Z) are emerging as enthusiastic player cohorts and enjoy game play in a wide variety of ways.

  • Gen Alpha (age 5-10) is the generation with the highest percentage of video game players – 79% of Gen Alpha plays weekly, compared to 56% of adults 18 and older.
  • The most popular game genres played by Gen Alpha are arcade (64%), action (60%) and puzzle (56%).
  • Gen Alpha and Gen Z are the biggest users of consoles (58%) and PCs (54%) to play video games.

Video games bring Americans together and help develop and maintain connections with friends and family.

  • 72% of American parents play video games and 83% of them play video games with their children. Parents cite quality family time and shared enjoyment as the top reasons to play together.
  • Across all ages, 55% of players play with others on a weekly basis.
  • When it comes to staying connected, adult players agree that video games introduce people to new friends/relationships (73%), help make lasting memories (53%) and have allowed them to meet a good friend, spouse or significant other (39%).

2024 marks the ESA’s 30th anniversary serving as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. This year’s Essential Facts report includes retrospective facts from reports of years past that shed light on the evolution of who plays and how we play video games:

  • In 2004, the average video game player was 29 years old. Today, the average player is 36.
  • Since 2012, those who play video games on their mobile device has grown from 33% to 78% in 2024.
  • In 1999, only 18% of players reported playing “on-line”. Today, nearly 90% enjoy some form of online gameplay.
  • Older generations are enjoying video games at increasing rates. In 1999, only 9% of players were aged 50+. Twenty-five years later, 29% are.
  • U.S. video game industry sales have grown significantly. In 2002, the industry reported $11.7 billion in consumer spending. In 2023, that number totaled $57.2 billion.

About the ESA

Founded in 1994, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has served as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry for more than 30 years. Its members are the innovators, creators, publishers and business leaders that are reimagining entertainment and transforming how we interact, learn, connect and play. The ESA works to expand and protect the dynamic marketplace for video games through innovative and engaging initiatives that showcase the positive impact of video games on people, culture and the economy to secure a vibrant future for the industry for decades to come. For more information, visit the ESA’s website or follow the ESA on X @theESA or Instagram @theesaofficial.

About YouGov

YouGov is an international online research data and analytics technology group. Our mission is to offer unparalleled insight into what the world thinks.  Our innovative solutions help the world’s most recognized brands, media owners and agencies to plan, activate and track their marketing activities better. With operations in the UK, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, India and Asia Pacific, we have one of the world’s largest research networks.  At the core of our platform is an ever-growing source of connected consumer data that has developed daily over our 20 years of operation. We call it living data. All of our products and services draw upon this detailed understanding of our 24+ million registered panel members to deliver accurate, actionable consumer insights.  As innovators and pioneers of online market research, we have a strong reputation as a trusted source of accurate data and insights. Testament to this, YouGov data is regularly referenced by the global press, and we are the most quoted market research source in the world. 

2024 Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry Methodology

YouGov and ESA conducted a 20-minute online survey in the US from October 23-31 among 5,000 total respondents recruited from YouGov’s proprietary online panel. Data is weighted to be representative of the overall US population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, education, census region, and the distribution of gamers who spend at least 1 hour/week playing video games on a smartphone, tablet, PC, console, or VR headset vs. non-gamers. 18+ respondents were asked about all members of their household in order to size gamers as young as 5 years old. Gamers aged 8-17 were asked to complete the survey under the supervision of a parent.

SOURCE Entertainment Software Association

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