The US videogame industry is shifting rapidly. Gamers are almost equally split between males and females now (pdf), at 52% to 48%, according to the latest annual report by the Entertainment Software Association. Eight years ago, males were 63% of US gamers. More than that, adult women now outnumber teenage boys among gamers in the US by 36% to 17%—more than two to one. And female gamers over 50 have increased by a third.
The reason? The shift away from consoles to towards casual games on mobile phones, such as Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds. The shift is transforming gaming; according to Euromonitor, “digital gaming” (i.e., on anything other than a dedicated console like an Xbox or Wii) now represents 27% of videogame sales worldwide last year, with mobile games growing by 10% in value. The growth in the US mobile games market—6% in 2013, after a whopping 50% and 30% annual growth in the previous two years—means that the US is poised to overtake the $1.1 billion Japanese mobile gaming market by next year, Euromonitor says.
All of this goes against some long-held stereotypes. “For many, myself included, statistics like these challenge the definition of a ‘gamer’,” Rob Williams, a tech writer, said in a piece titled Pwned by a Girl. “As someone who grew up with a multitude of consoles and spent a wee bit too much time gaming on the PC, I have a truly hard time calling someone who only plays mobile games a ‘gamer’. Mental hurdle aside, the reality is that anyone who plays games, regardless of the platform, is a gamer.”