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ESA Study Finds Nearly Two Thirds of Americans Play Video Games

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has released its annual Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry report.

The 2024 report details the number of Americans playing video games and for the first time provides qualitative insights on the impact of games across all demographics, including race, gender, ethnicity and age. This year’s report also marks the first time that children ages 5-17 are included in the quantitative data. 

According to the data from the ESA, the 2024 Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry report shows that 61% of Americans ages 5-90 play video games, meaning approximately 190.6 million people play video games at least one hour each week in the United States. The average player is 36- years-old, and the average adult player has been playing for 17 years, demonstrating video games are a permanent source of entertainment for many players.

“Video games have been a fixture in American life and culture for generations,” comments Stanley Pierre-Louis, president and CEO of the ESA. “Players of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are embracing the positivity that video games bring to their lives. While the games we play—and how we play them—evolves over time, what remains consistent is how video games enhance our lives in ways that inspire us and bring us closer together.” 

ESA Video Game Industry Report Quantifies Entertainment Value of Gaming

Highlighting some of the findings from the 2024 Essential Facts report, the ESA says the study includes: 

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Video game players reflect the diversity of American society: The gender split of male and female players remains at about half-and-half with 53% of video game players identify as male, 46% identify as female and approximately 1% selected non-binary or preferred not to identify for the survey. 

ESA’s report finds that American adults who play video games, 75% are White, 19% are Hispanic, 12% are Black, 4% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 3% are Native American. 

Video games are widely viewed as contributing to social and emotional wellbeing across all age groups: ESA states a large majority of U.S. adults (79%) agree that video games bring people joy, provide mental stimulation (77%) and stress relief (76%). 

Most players (77%) believe video games provide mental stimulation, with Boomers and the Silent Generation most likely to agree with this sentiment (92%) vs. Gen Z (84%). 

 Among adults, using video games to relax (68% of players) and to have fun (67% of players) are the top motivators to play. 

Nearly three-quarters of American adults agree video games can help improve cognitive skills (73%) and provide accessible experiences for players with different abilities (74%). 

U.S. adults also agree that video games can teach problem-solving (73%), teamwork and collaboration (64%), adaptability (59%), conflict resolution (47%) and communication (51%) skills. 

Generation Alpha (Gen Alpha) and Generation Z (Gen Z) are emerging as enthusiastic player cohorts and enjoy game play in a wide variety of ways:  Gen Alpha (age 5-10) is the generation with the highest percentage of video game players – 79% of Gen Alpha plays weekly, compared to 56% of adults 18 and older. 

ESA states the most popular game genres played by Gen Alpha are arcade (64%), action (60%) and puzzle (56%). 

Gen Alpha and Gen Z are the biggest users of consoles (58%) and PCs (54%) to play video games. 

Video games bring Americans together and help develop and maintain connections with friends and family: 72% of American parents play video games and 83% of them play video games with their children. Parents cite quality family time and shared enjoyment as the top reasons to play together. 

Across all ages, 55% of players play with others on a weekly basis. 

When it comes to staying connected, ESA’s latest study found that adult players agree that video games introduce people to new friends/relationships (73%), help make lasting memories (53%) and have allowed them to meet a good friend, spouse or significant other (39%). 

2024 marks the ESA’s 30th anniversary serving as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. This year’s Essential Facts report includes retrospective facts from reports of years past that shed light on the evolution of who plays and how we play video games: In 2004, the average video game player was 29-years-old. Today, the average player is 36-years-old. 

Since 2012, those who play video games on their mobile device has grown from 33% to 78% in 2024. 

In 1999, only 18% of players reported playing “online”. Today, nearly 90% enjoy some form of online gameplay. 

ESA notes that older generations are enjoying video games at increasing rates. In 1999, only 9% of players were aged 50-plus. Twenty-five years later, 29% of adults older than 50 play video games. 

ESA adds that U.S. video game industry sales have grown significantly. In 2002, the industry reported $11.7 billion in consumer spending. In 2023, that number totaled $57.2 billion. 

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