Study: Half of Americans Play Video Games

Computers are the dominant machines for games among American adults, though consoles, cell phones, and other portable devices enter the mix for other demographic groups. A report released by Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Adults and Video Games,” details the age groups, household income, and other factors determining likelihood and frequency of play.

Younger adults are more likely to play games. Ninety-seven percent of teens play video games, based on data from a separate report, “Teens, Video Games and Civics” released in September. Slightly fewer young adults, those 18 to 29, play games: 81 percent of respondents in the group report playing. And 23 percent of those 65 years old and older report playing games.

Counting the whole adult population, 53 percent of American adults over the age 18 play video games, and 21 percent play every day or almost every day, according to the study released this week. Gender no longer separates gamers; 55 percent of men play games, compared to 50 percent of women. Those who live in more populated areas are slightly more likely to pick up a game: 56 percent of people in urban areas play versus 47 percent of those in rural areas.

Education appears as another predictor of video game play. Fifty-seven percent of respondents with a college degree or some college are significantly more likely to play games than other groups. Just over half (51 percent), of high school graduates play games, and 40 percent of those with less than a high school education play games.

A similar curve occurs with income level. While households with an income of $75,000 and over are not the highest, 56 percent say they play games. And 62 percent of the households with incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 play games, accounting for the highest percentage of gamers in terms of income. Fifty-nine percent of households with incomes between $30,000 and $49,999 play games, and 52 percent of households with incomes less than $30,000.

Household income and education appear to be indicators, but the study’s main author Pew Internet researcher Amanda Lenhart said, “In general the income level is actually not statistically significant. The differences in education levels are at least mildly significant.”

Internet users are more likely to play games than those who are not online. Seventy-five percent of adults use the Internet, and 64 percent of Internet users play games. Pew finds 20 percent of non-Internet users play games.

“There is a segment that do not have Internet access that do play games,” said Lenhart. “We hear that with our teen work, they do not have access at home and play on consoles, or play on cell phones. There’s a variety of reasons why.”

While teens tend to play games on consoles, older adults opt for PCs to play games. Sixty-one percent of respondents 18 to 29 years old play games on consoles compared to 28 percent of adults who play on consoles. Teens are more likely to play on consoles; 86 percent opt for the platform. Certainly computer games are still by far the dominant way of playing among adults,” said Lenhart. “If you’re a gamer and you’re over 30, you’re going to be playing on a computer.”

An age group that dominates not in percentage of players but in frequency is seniors. A total of 36 percent of gamers 65 and older say they play games every day or almost every day, compared with 19 percent of adults aged 50 to 64; 20 percent of adults aged 30 to 49, and 20 percent of adults aged 18 to 29. Seventy-seven percent of senior gamers report being retired, and likely have more time to play games.

Pew surveyed American adults on their console and computer gaming behavior. The survey was the first of its kind for adults though similar questions had been previously asked to younger cohorts.

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