More proof video games are mainstream

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 19, 2015

The latest statistics on gaming came out last week from the Entertainment Software Association, one of the biggest lobbying groups for the video game industry.

Be that as it may, the ESA’s annual sales, demographic and usage data report is the closest thing we have to measure just how mainstream video games have become in our society. Let me tell you: Games are a lot more prevalent than you might think.

About 155 million Americans are playing video games. That’s about half the country. In addition, 4 out of 5 homes own some sort of device used to play games (which includes, consoles, computers, even cell phones). A little more than half of U.S. homes own a dedicated gaming console and 42 percent of Americans play video games at least three hours a week.

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Guess what kind of people play games? The average age of female gamers is 43 years old, while the average male gamer is 35, and the average gamer overall is 35 years old. About 56 percent of gamers identify as male, while 44 percent identify as female.

These are big numbers to write about for areas like Mower County. I’ve made no secret this column isn’t dedicated so much to the hardcore gamer as it is to people who may not understand gaming, or own some video games but want to learn more about them.

This is an important task, because there are still plenty of people who may have played Super Nintendo 20 years ago but can’t keep up with “Minecraft” jargon or understand terms like framerate, free-to-play (F2P), lag or online game culture in general.

Penny Arcade, a well-known webcomic, recently ran a series of comics based on creator Mike Krahulik’s experience talking about games at a parent-teacher committee meeting. Notable gaming journalists routinely go on talk shows and radio programs to discuss gaming. Heck, I’ve even spent thousands of words and even a segment or two on KSMQ discussing the appeal of video games in general.

It’s clear gaming is mainstream, so much so that the U.S. Department of Education is getting in on the Games for Change Summit taking place this week in New York with the first-ever Games for Learning Summit. In other words, even our education system understands the power of learning through gaming.

Once again, games are here to stay. There’s plenty of online resources to learn from, and a whole lot of opportunity for this interactive storytelling medium to grow.