Pew Study: Adults Play Games, But Not as Much as Teens

In September, the Pew Internet & American Life Project told us that games are pervasive among 12-17 year-olds, and that teen gamers are not the closeted nerds that some critics would suggest.

This week Pew has followed up with a report on the gaming habits of adults and finds that, while they don’t play as much or in the same fashion as teens, many do play. Some highlights of the Pew data follow:

Regarding age and gaming:

  • 53% of American adults age 18 and older play video games
  • 21% play everyday or almost everyday.
  • While the number of video gamers among adults is substantial, it is still well under the number of teens (97%) who play.
  • Younger (18-29) adults are considerably more likely than older (65+) adults to play games (85% vs. 23%)
  • The likelihood that an adult is a video gamer decreases significantly with age.

Regarding other demographic factors and gaming:

  • Men (55%) are slightly more likely than women (50%) to play
  • Urbanites (56%) are more likely than rural-dwellers (47%) to play
  • Thise with some college (57%) are more likely to play that those with a high school education (51%) or those who did not complete high school (40%)

Older gamers prefer computers; younger gamers like consoless:

  • 38% of all adults play on computers, while 28% play on consoles
  • 61% of 18-29 year-olds play games on consoles
  • 86% of teens play on consoles

Virtual worlds like Second Life haven’t captured the public imagination:

  • Only 2% of gamers have ever visited a virtual world
  • Only 6% of adults have ever created an avatar
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  1. 0
    Flamespeak says:

    I use a console almost exclusively for gaming. I just prefer them better.

    A PC can have better control schemes and better graphics, however, I like the concept of something dedicated to gaming. I don’t have to worry about my system contracting a virus, I know that every title I buy will work for the system, and I also know (in the case of Sony) that my current set-up should be good for around ten years.

    PC is the supieror set-up, but most developers tend to be considering PC second to consoles as consoles yield higher game sales, so I also have more of a selection when it comes to gaming. (since I am not a big fan of most FPS games and only one RTS ever made a good impression on me, I don’t really have much use for PC gaming.)

  2. 0
    kagirinai says:

    "I also know (in the case of Sony) that my current set-up should be good for around ten years."
    I would be very shocked if they are still making games for the PS3 is six years, let alone ten. I fully expect to see a PS5 in five years or less (3-4 is more likely) with the PS3 phasing out within two years after that. While Sony is trying to market the PS3 as something of a methusalian monolith, I have my doubts about the reality of it.

    As for PCs being secondary, that’s really only for the ‘secondary’ hardcore market. In a net profit sense, more money is being made (as I understand it) from casual games, and that money is being made on the PC, through companies like PopCap, Big Fish Games, PlayFirst, and through services like Steam and iTunes (though that’s more to the portable market, but it is related).

    The big budget hardcore games might bring in a lot of cash, but they also cost a lot to make (and they don’t always break even). Additionally, when you aren’t spending money to buy additional hardware (since most PC casual games use the bare minimum of system resources by nature) you have more money to spend on games (and casual games are inexpensive to develop, making them cheaper to buy and more profitable).

  3. 0
    Jack says:

    I’d also like to point out that it shouldn’t be surprising that adults play less than teens. And we should be ashamed to admit it. I know some of us are because it shows video games as again, a kid’s medium.

    I mean take for instance baseball. Now sports are considered to have an across the board age range. What I mean by that is no one scoffs at it as being a "kids medium". Now I’ll bet that adults are less likely to play baseball than teens. Why? Because its just plain hard sometimes to make time for your favorites hobbies.

  4. 0
    kagirinai says:

    I don’t think that’s as much a factor as you’re giving it credit for, honestly. When you’re under 18, you’ve got little to do EXCEPT consume media. I know that before I spent 8 hours a day working and lived with my folks (and had no real responsibilities) I played probably a minimum of 3 hours of games a night, and that was expanded to far longer sessions most of the time.

    Nowadays, I still play a lot, but I have to make time for cooking, cleaning, exercise, work, personal projects, my wife, keeping in touch with friends, and keeping up with the news; let alone bills and long term planning. I just have less disposable time. Adult in general prioritize their time; they’ll ditch things that they consider without value — not every considers gaming ‘valuable’ enough to occupy their time. Just like some people don’t read books, or watch movies, or browse the internet, the same that some people don’t exercise, or cook for themselves, or clean up after themselves. It’s something you make time for if you want it, and something that can be easily dismissed if you don’t.

  5. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Some things I would like to point out from reviewing the numbers:

    Income makes very little difference when determining who plays games. People making less than $30k per year are almost just as likely to play games as those who make over $75k per year.

    Parents play more games on more systems than non parents. That shows me that gaming is becoming more of a family affair.

    PCs are the most common platform for gaming. So much for it dying.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  6. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    What a break through, those with more free time and less responsibility are more likely to play video games, and play them more often and longer, other than the elderly who don’t understand the technology.  No one would have qualified that as common sense, or that the critics are full of shit like normal.

    It is nice to see the statistics still.

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  7. 0
    kagirinai says:

    This data is, for the most part, information we already know, interpreted in questionable ways.

    "The likelihood that an adult is a video gamer decreases significantly with age."
    This makes it sound like as you get older, you’re more likely to stop gaming, rather than the wave of grown-up gamers that really exists, pushing the age barrier back every year. It’s not that older people stopped gaming, just that the never started.

    One thing that is interesting is the shift in console/pc demographics. Do they take in to account multiplatform players? I split a lot of my gaming time between consoles and PC, and I doubt I’m alone. But the data does show pretty clearly that the older audience seems less interested in purchasing dedicated hardware for gaming. It makes me think of the older people I know who won’t game because the controls are intimidating.

    Overall, there’s a lot of factors that are kind of absent from these numbers — like the more educated are more likely to play? I’d like to see that compared against affluence, as I bet lower income people are less likely to play (or be able to play).

    Still, good to know they’re collecting data.

  8. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Atually it does take into account multiplatform gamers. Take a look at the charts made here:

    It shows that in the 18-29 range 68% of gamers play on PC and 75% play on consoles. so they do take that into account.

    But as the demographic gets older, the more the percentages change to favor PC. The reason is most likely as you said. They already have a PC, why get something that only plays games.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

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