How old are the real video gamers?


More women and adults play video games than ever before, according to new research released last month by the ESA. Gamers at large are also increasingly enjoying content distributed in digital formats. The 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report revealed that 82 percent of gamers are adults and 42 percent of gamers are women. In fact, women age 18 or older represent more than one third of the game-playing population. The report also highlighted the growing popularity of digital interactive game content, with purchases of digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, subscriptions and social network gaming accounting for 24 percent of industry sales in 2010, compared with 20 percent in 2009.

Average Game Player Age

Gaming StatisticsThe industry’s changing consumer base and expanded game offerings across a variety of platforms have broadened the appeal of video games among Americans of all ages. Nearly three-quarters of American households play video games. According to the survey, these gamers often play at home with friends or while on the go; 65 percent report playing games with other gamers in person, and 55 percent play games on their phones or handheld device.

The report also found that parents see a number of positive benefits of game play for their children and family. Sixty-eight percent of parents believe that game play provides mental stimulation or education, 57 percent believe games encourage their family to spend time together, and 54 percent believe that game play helps their children connect with friends. Fifty-nine percent of parents believe that video games provide more physical activity now than five years ago, a nod to the industry’s increased development of active-play games.

Total Consumer Spend on Games Industry 2010

Parents also remain highly involved in their children’s game play by monitoring game selections and playing with their children. Parents are present when games are purchased or rented 91 percent of the time, and children receive their parents’ permission before purchasing or renting a game 86 percent of the time. Forty-five percent of these parents also report playing games with their children at least weekly, an increase from 36 percent in 2007.

These and other findings from the 2011 Essential Factsdemonstrate that video games are everywhere and played by virtually everyone. With the video game industry’s commitment to reaching consumers in new and interesting ways, and the creativity of its developers and publishers, the already widespread appeal of video games is sure to continue expanding.


On Independence Day, we reflect on our country’s fight for basic rights during the American Revolution, and celebrate our Declaration of Independence from the British Empire as a crucial step in preserving those rights. Today, the fight for human rightsBreakthrough - bring human rights homecontinues both here and abroad, in new ways that often involve interactive games and social networks. Breakthrough, a global rights organization focused on raising awareness of human rights issues, is one group that taps into the power of entertainment software to connect people to the world around them and inspire social action.

Breakthrough President and CEO Mallika Dutt understands the far-reaching appeal of social games and digital media, and incorporates these tools in the organization’s campaigns to make human rights issues accessible to the broader public. Dutt believes game technology helps to “transform hearts and minds.” Most recently, Breakthrough launched America 2049, a 12-week-long Facebook-based game that combines elements of social game play, digital media and real-life events to educate players on key global issues.

The game, launched in April, plunges over 20,000 players into the year 2049 in a dystopian world splintered by race and ethnicity and hostile to self expression. Players work as agents of the Council on American Heritage to capture a fugitive and confront issues such as sex trafficking, discrimination based on race and sexual orientation, immigration, labor and religious freedom. Players also follow an online curriculum, which features a different social justice theme each week, and navigate social websites where they can strategize with others, discuss issues and watch videos created by the game’s fictional government.

Game designers Heidi Boisvert and Andrea Phillips created 450 pages of script for the game and incorporated posters and artifacts that link the game to American history. Content such as The New York Times’ coverage of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 and a poster for the 1928 movie “Abie’s Irish Rose,” about an interfaith relationship between a Catholic woman and a Jewish man, help to transport and influence players. Outside of the virtual world, players also have the opportunity to attend events at important cultural institutions such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York and the Arab American National Museum in Michigan.

Several celebrities make appearances throughout the game, including Margaret Cho, Victor Garber, Cherry Jones, Anthony Rapp and Harold Perrineau. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Cho touted the importance of Breakthrough’s latest creation. “Protecting civil rights is the responsibility of all Americans. Our future depends on our civic involvement, and I’m excited that America 2049 will help educate young people about their power to change their world.”

America 2049 is the latest example of how video games are increasingly used as vehicles to communicate ideas and generate awareness of social issues. The game leaves players with an important question: how can we preserve the rights our ancestors fought for, and prevent our country and world from becoming like the one depicted in America 2049?


Pulling an “all-nighter” at the library is rarely considered a fun activity. However, 500 people recently chose to do just that and took part in a unique experience at the New York Public Library (NYPL) that combined digital game play with an educational scavenger hunt. “Find the Future: Write All Night” offered players an opportunity to explore the library’s collections after-hours while using mobile and online games to learn about history.

The special event marked the official launch of Find the Future, a game designed by Dr. Jane McGonigal as part of NYPL’s centennial celebration. The game challenges players to find creative inspiration among NYPL’s collections and to write their own stories that capture how each artifact, or its owner or author, changed history. Players must also respond to questions about what they could do to become the history-makers of the future, such as a book or a quote they might write to inspire others.

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