The Myth of the Average Gamer: 2012 Entertainment Software Demographics Deconstructed
Last week, the Entertainment Software Association released their 2012 sales, demographic and usage report for the computer and video game industry. Read Rick’s assessment of the statistics, taking apart the notion of the stereotypical gamer, as well as the gaming industry’s staid approach to production and marketing.
I love statistics and charts and contextual analysis.
The spread between genders is way more even than you’d think by just looking at advertisements, etc. I wonder when gameplay will actually better represent the spread of game players.
You know, I DO have some opinions on this, and I tend to be wordy, so I’m just gonna try and bullet point:
- Part of the problem is that you have studios that either do the big-budget games that get advertising and are aimed at “core” gamers or studios that do casual, social, indie or motion games. Even within a publisher, there’s a definite segregation.
-“Core” games are all about pushing games to extremes, whether it’s technology or content. Unfortunately, a lot of that is driven by the fan hype in the echo chamber that is the internet.
-Big budget games have, in this generation especially due to budget inflation and very long development times, been victims to rampant sequelitis. This is due to A) a desire to milk proven properties as much as possible and B) a need to leverage existing technology and art assets in order to keep costs down. Consequently, your big budget games are being created, in part, based on consumer data from years go… in some cases many years ago in the case of long-running series. This gets compounded by copycat bandwagon jumpers, who see a particular game being successful, decide to ape it, then have a two-to-three year development cycle just to release their me-too entry.
- Women DO play hardcore games, and that SHOULD be accounted-for in terms of advertising, gameplay and content. BUT it probably won’t be for quite some time because of A) the sexist community that is hell-bent on silencing female gamers (and has many mechanisms in place to do so, both obvious and insidious), B) developers basing their output on out-of-date demographic data, and C) a distinct lack of female voices in decision-making positions on the development side (this, at least, is improving, albeit slowly - diversity as a whole needs to improve when it comes to positions of power on the development end).
- Indie game development tends to be more of a meritocracy: since indie games rarely get any kind of marketing push outside of E3, it really is the cream that rises to the top, but it’s also where you’re going to see a lot of the new ideas and diversity.
- I would highly recommend that anyone looking for a different, less-advertised experience that isn’t a freakin’ facebook game check out the Arcade/Indie offerings on X-Box Live, downloadables on PSN, and the Steam marketplace. Specifically: Limbo, Papo & Yo, Journey, Flower, Superbrothers The Sword & Sworcery EP, Bastion, Fez, From Dust, Braid, Rock of Ages, Stacking, The Walking Dead… really there’s a lot out there, it’s just never advertised. Alternately, grit your teeth and follow the gaming press. If you don’t read the comments, the journalists themselves tend to not be complete jerkwads.
- God bless folks like Feminist Frequency and Fat, Ugly or Slutty for trying to make themselves heard.
Of course, I didn’t include all this in the original article because… well, I wanted to keep it focused and actually finish