Friday, January 27, 2006

ESA: 35% Of U.S. Parents Play Video Games

I'm usually a bit skeptical of surveys of this type, especialy when the organization commissioning it has a vested interest. With that said, Gamasutra has published some interesting results of a survey commissioned by the video game trade body Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that found "Thirty-five percent of American parents say they play computer and video games. The ESA defines "'gamer parents' as those who play computer and video games, but do not solely play desktop card or children’s games).

Here are some of the interesting figures:

  • the typical 'gamer parent' is 37 years old, and almost half of this group (47%) are women
  • parent gamers most often play card games (34%), followed by puzzle, board and “game show” games (26%), sports games (25%) action games (20%), strategy games (20%) and downloadable games (18%)
  • the typical “gamer parent” has been playing games for an average of 13 years, with one-third reporting having played for 20 years or more.
  • Thirty-six percent of gamer parents introduced their children to games, while a quarter (23 percent) of gamer parents began playing because their children were playing. Twenty-seven percent of parents and children starting playing games around the same time.
  • 60% of parents agree that it is not the role of government to regulate game sales in an attempt to protect kids from exposure to violent and/or sexual video game content.
As a "gamer parent" of ten year-old and eight year-old gamers, who has wasted plenty of time playing video and PC games over the past 20+ years, none of these numbers are very surprising. I would expect these numbers to continue to grow as the average age of gamers gets older.

What I would have loved to see is how much time parents spend researching and selecting the games their kids rent and/or buy. Just going by anecdotal evidence, I would guess these numbers aren't very high. Just being present at the point of sale and looking at the rating on the box is not enough. Parent have to make a greater effort to learn more about what their kids are playing. You can't expect the government to do that for you...