I just can’t seem to get away from GamerGate. It’s constantly on my Twitter timeline and I see tweets and retweets from pro and anti GamerGate advocates. So I decided to do a little research of my own.
I performed a Google search information on who buts and plays games and the first hit I received was this one from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). There’s a lot of data there but I’m primarily concerned with basic demographics, e.g. gender, age, and race.
Pull up the PDF and take a quick look. Scroll down to the “Gamer Demographics” section. The first statistic is the average age of game players. I was not too surprised by this because I know a lot of adults that regularly play video games. Below that , on the left is the breakdown of under 18, 18-35, and 36+. That last one really surprised me that 39% of those 36 and older are active gamers.
To the right is the even more interesting breakdown by gender. 48% of gamers are “female”. Yep, I do have to say that one almost knocked me out of my chair. I was expecting to see something between 30-40% maximum.
Wait! We’re not done yet! Look at this statement just blow that graphic:
Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (36%) than boys age 18 or younger (17%)
That had me sit back for a moment. I’ve always heard that gaming was the provence of young males but the ESA data contradict that explicitly.
Next, scroll down to the “Game Purchasing” section. What the ESA tells us is that men and women are equal as purchasers of games. Who would have thought? Well, those that are Tweeting the #GamerGate hashtag. It looks like gamers really know who they are and what they’re doing.
There’s a lot of good information in this document about parents and children, etc., but I want to scroll down to the graphic “Best-Selling ViDeo game Super genres by Units Sold, 2013 “ Take a good look there. 51.9% of games sold last year were either “Shooter”, or “Action”.
Lets scroll down to “Top 20 Selling Video Games Of 2013”. In that list, 7 are rated “Mature”. The top game? Yep, Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV).This game has received a lot of scrutiny by some that claim it’s sexist and misogynistic. As the top selling game last year, I’m not thinking that it’s only “White Men” that are playing.
I believe that this document debunks the anti-GamerGate folks mythology concerning women. There are lots of women that play games, and based on the top selling games, does anyone believe that there aren’t women playing GTAV?
I know someone is going to say, “What about the percentage of women in game development”? Well, I did find a graphic from a survey taken this year:(click on the image to enlarge)
So 22% of game developers are women. I guess there’ll be some that will say that this low representation is due to women being prevented from entering the industry. I doubt that. The gaming industry is growing every year and companies are certainly looking for qualified developers, exclusive of gender. Is it possible that in this specific field that women are less interested in game development? Who knows. The data are the data.
I wanted to then discuss the race demographic, but I can’t seem to find any data after 2007 and I’m not sure that data would be accurate enough to present as an argument but I’ll go ahead and show you what I found: (click on the image to enlarge)
So what’s conclusion am I able to come to with this small amount of data? It appears that women are almost equally represented in playing games as men, that by race, using old data, there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming amount of “whites” versus “blacks” or “hispanics”. So it looks to me that there’s a lot of diversity in the gaming world.
The one (negative?) data point are the number of game developers and unless there’s a concerted effort by companies to exclude women, then the only reason that makes sense to me is that women are less interested in that field. I believe it’s the latter not the former.
If the racism, sexism, and misogyny actually existed in the gaming world as presented in the last couple of months by the anti-GamerGate advocates, the data don’t show anything of the sort.