E3 Numbers Game: ESA Serves Up Data on Game Consumers

Each year at E3 the Entertainment Software Association distributes Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, a small handbook of facts and figures detailing who its customers are and what they are buying.

It’s always an interesting read although we’re exactly not sure how they define some terms. What constitutes a "game player," for instance? Is it someone who simply plays Windows Solitaire? At any rate, here are some of the key findings from the ESA report:

Who Plays:

  • 68% of Americans play computer or video games
  • The average game player age is 35 (again, how is this defined?)
  • 25% of game players are under 18
  • 25% of game players are over 50
  • 60% are male, 40% female
  • on average, adult gamers have been playing for 12 years
  • 42% of U.S. homes have a game console

Who Buys: 

  • Average age of most frequent purchaser is 39
  • 52% of purchasers are male, 48% female
  • 92% of time a parent is present during purchase
  • 83% of time kids receive parental permission before purchasing
  • 43% of Americans have purchased or plan to buy one or more games in 2009


  • 94% of parents report monitoring their kids’ games "always or sometimes"
  • 77% of parents believe parental control features in consoles are useful (although the more relevant number might be how many parents are aware of such controls and use them)
  • 79% of parents impose time limits on gaming (that’s a higher percentage than TV viewing, movie viewing and Internet usage)
  • 78% of parents game with kids because it’s a good opportunity to socialize with their child
  • 63% of parents game in order to monitor content


  • 57% of games sold in 2008 were rated E or E10+
  • 16% were rated M (17 and older)
  • Among Top 20 best-selling console games of 2008, 6 were rated M (GTA IV 360, GTA IV PS3, CoD WaW, GoW2, CoD4 MW, Fable II)
  • Among Top 20 best-selling PC games of 2008, 5 were rated M (Age of Conan, CoD4 MW, Fallout 3, CoD WaW, Crysis)
  • 37% of Americans play on wireless devices such as mobile phones and PDAs
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