Friday, April 25, 2014

What The ESRB Report Says About Games and Parents

The ESRB's 2014 Essential Facts About The Gaming Industry is out! Woo! And instead of reciting the results to you like some websites, I'm going to talk about what these stats mean for us and future gaming.

One thing that I noticed very clearly in this year's review compared to previous versions is the ESRB taking into account just how many people are playing games versus other entertainment activities, such as going to the movies and watching television. Nearly 50% across the board people are spending less time on these other activities.

It's no wonder movie studios are buying up the rights to make video game movies. As more people turn away from the traditional entertainment (well traditional for the last 100 years) to their cell phones and gaming consoles, the movies want to win people back and what better way to do that then to give them more games. Which means that yes, we will get a lot of really crappy video game movies. But it is possible to get that gem. That one movie which set itself apart from the rest and usher in the era of the gaming films. Less we forget that not all of the super hero movies have been worth their ticket price.

Obviously the movie business has an invested interest in the future of games. Literally.

And because more people are using their systems and phones to watch movies, 58% of those surveyed state, businesses such as Netflix are going to make up a huge chunk of the digital money pie offering not only the latest Hollywood movies, but original content. House of Cards has been doing quite well through the streaming service.

The next fun fact, 85% of parents are aware of the ESRB and what the ratings mean. 95% pay attention to the content that their children play. 91% of parents are with a child at the time of purchase/rental of a video game.

I read all of that as yes. Parents do know that their kids are playing Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V. In fact, they bought the game for the kid standing right next to them. So if you are wondering why you have to deal with 8 year old's online all the time, you 90% of the blame goes to parents. But hey, the second best seller in 2013 was SimCity for PC games. That's nice and wholesome and friendly. Until you get booted from the server and start swearing like a sailor.

But those stats are surprising. Not that so many parents are aware of the ESRB, what the ratings mean, and are actually quite involved in their child's gaming (up to 83% impose limits to time playing more so then other forms of media). What's surprising is that this has been the same scenario year over year. The numbers have barely altered. Parents are active in the purchases and know what their children are playing. And yet, we still blame the games when something bad happens. Maybe this is the media's method of trying to gain back some of it's lost power by turning video games into a scapegoat. Not to get all "conspiracy theory" on you, fair readers. But something is obviously backwards in our society for us to continue bashing video games and not the parents/adults RESPONSIBLE for buying and watching the games their kids are playing.

It's a lack of taking ownership of one's actions. We are a blaming society. It's everyone else's fault but our own. Pretty sad when you think about it.

And has been the case for years, women make up nearly 50% of all gamers. Those over the age of 18 make up 36% of the gaming population versus the 17% of boys under the age of 18. So developers and marketers, can we stop pushing games to be sold to boys and men? Women are 48% of your damn market. We matter. I'll leave it at that. It can be exhausting repeating the same points over and over again and still not see anything change.

So there you have it. Another year of ESRB greatness in stat form. Keep up the work ladies and gents. It's a thankless job, but we gamers do appreciate your hard work. It keeps games out of government regulation! :D


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