October 2, 2005

Intelligent Design of Video Game Surveys

by Nick Montfort · , 12:57 pm

Many thanks to Rinku for pointing out Chris Crawford’s nice commentary on industry studies of video game demographics. Readers who care about this issue at all will want to read his article, but the gist of it is that the industry talk of a closing gender gap and a shift to older gamers has no basis in scientific studies; it is just public relations output from video game companies.

Interestingly, there have been other reports completed since the one Chris wrote about, such as part one of the “Video Gaming Industry Benchmark Report,” from April 2005. I say completed rather than released, because this 80-page report, commissioned for the video game industry to use in marketing, has been written about in the news but does not seem to be available to the public (and to researchers). Please drop a comment here if you can find the report somewhere. It seems timely to mention this, as the press release about part two, due to be finished in September 2005, has not yet come out. (You might even be able to get in on the action of part two, since Nielsen Entertainment is hiring a director of video game research.)

Now, you might consider that it’s nice of the video game industry to share a few carefully selected and edited snippets from the marketing research they commissioned with the public. You might. But if you think such results have anything to do with science and that these results should be quoted in presentations as if they were scientific results, check out Chris’s article. And if you still think this, I have a noodly one to reveal to you.

5 Responses to “Intelligent Design of Video Game Surveys”

  1. mary Says:

    While this points out some interesting points about research which invariably is discovered, etc, many researchers DO use results from reliable sources. For work about gender and technology, at least, there are NSF studies, a group which would publish its methods. Industry claim of closing a gender gap, for one, are not explained in interest in technical fields in academia in NSF findings

  2. O.G.H.C. Says:

    I’ve read the article, so I understand the principal argument, that the surveys were not done in a such a way as to be considered sound proof of the age and gender expansion of the gaming market.

    That’s fine.

    However, I completely disagree with the notion that the market is not expanding; and that both the age and gender gaps are indeed closing. It’s true, I don’t have documents to show true percentages of sales and usage- but I do have Grandma. Grandma and I have received hundreds of e-mails from mature women gamers who claim to be over 50 and into the same sort of games she is. This wasn’t enough; but the hundreds MORE e-mails from folks saying “she reminds me so much of my Grandma, who passed recently/lives today/kicks ass and loves Zelda/God of War/Devil May Cry/Final Fantasy…” really helped me to understand that Grandma is by no means unique in her character.

    Look at age for instance; arcades have been around since the 1970’s, so it makes perfect sense that one who was, say 7 years old at the time could still be playing today, with new systems and new games. Such a person would be around what, 40 years old today? Now the marketing of the games has been carefully narrowed to a young, male demographic- but for those who now have the support of the community and of their peers, there is only the game, and not the advertisements. The 15-30 Male Demographic is self sustaining and productive for game developers, but it isn’t exclusive anymore. There isn’t as big a stigma for those who play outside their caste. The expansion of gaming to the elderly, the very young; to both genders and to all economic classes is an inevitability in a society in which gaming has infiltrated most popular entertainment outlets- as it is mentioned in movies, books, politics, education, the military, etc.,…

    The evidence Grandma has, while anecdotal, was not designed to assist the game industry to convince others or to help them increase sales. It was a response to Grandma’s stories. This too, is not scientifically valid- but it retains the fundamental elements of the survey- that more older folks and more women are turning to games for entertainment.

  3. Water Cooler Games Says:

    In-Game Ad Studies are Ads for In-Game Ads

    A few days ago over on WCG friends’ site Grand Text Auto, Nick Montfort wrote about the distrust we may want to have for industry-sponsored studies of videogame demographic shifts. Nick points to long-time industry critic Chris Crawford’s recent comm…

  4. Emotionally Challenged » Female sens(e)ibility Says:

    […] industry not creating products for the female market”. This, of course, needs to be qualified along a couple of principal dimensions. The implic […]

  5. knives Says:

    The topic of females not wanting to play this game is a lie!
    I know more girls who play that game than any other. I fact it is
    one of the games i introduce females when they are first starting out…

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