The alarm goes off. The hand reaches for the button to stop the noise before bounding out of bed to engage in some gaming before the reality of the real-world sets in. Breakfast, chores and the trip to school.
Sounds like a typical morning for a teenage male in our modern computer focused world.
Actually, the latest research shows this is more the typical morning for a female aged over 55. What? Surely all those movies showing stereotypical socially awkward overweight teenage boys in darkened rooms obsessed with their games can’t be wrong?
A recent survey shows that of all online gamers, only 12 per cent came from the 18 to 24 age category but a whopping 23 per cent came from the 55+ category. To keep this in perspective, only 9.5 per cent of our total population is in the 18 to 24 age category compared to 26.8 per cent of our population in the 55+ category but the fact remains that, in total numbers, you are more likely to see an older Australian playing online games than a teenager.
I will go one step further. The largest group of online gamers comprises females aged 55+. Not quite the stereotypical image that we would have imagined. Is there a message here? Maybe the movies don’t actually portray reality? Shock, horror – topic for another day.
The games that these 55+ females are playing are typically smartphone games rather than console games with the favourites being Candy Crush; Words With Friends; Clash of Clans; Fortnite and Pokemon Go.
Although women make up 47 per cent of all gamers in Australia, men tend to play longer – 89 minutes per day compared to 77 minutes for women. The increasing percentage of female players does go some way towards explaining why the depiction of women is being talked about more often. Lara Croft was a popular video game heroine who first appeared twenty years ago and it was generally recognised that her sex appeal was the main draw for early (mostly teenage male) fans. This was a facet that the Tomb Raider creators exploited in their marketing. Critics of the game saw Croft as a negative role model due to her improbable proportions. As the game moved forward and more females started playing video games, more realistic redesigns of Croft lessened the criticisms and allowed her to be seen as an empowering figure for women.
Despite the raw numbers of people playing games aged 55 and older, the highest proportion age category is a little closer to that expected. In the 25 to 34 year old age bracket in the general population we have 14.8 per cent representation but in the online gaming world, this bracket makes up 20 per cent of all gamers. This is the real market for online gamers. They have some time on their hands but, more importantly, they are earning money without the financial burdens that later life starts to bring (translate that to mean they aren’t paying out lots of money for their kids yet). Given the fact that Australians spend over $3 Billion a year on video games, the hip pockets of the players is an important consideration when organisations are planning a game. Picture the board room of a major gaming company trying to decide the next game they should back. “Sure, the teenagers might seem like an obvious target – but they don’t have any money. The 25 to 34 bracket is earning good money without associated expenses. I say we go with the game that appeals to them.” This conversation would happen in board rooms across the world.
Given the latest statistics about females over 55 and their online habits, that conversation might start to shift to games that appeal to this age bracket. It looks like more games like Candy Crush on the horizon and less Tomb Raiders!