42% of Women and 37% of Men Own Game Consoles. Quick, Pretend To Be Surprised

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The gender demographics for gaming console owners in the United States, according to a Pew Research Center study, break down as follows: 42% of women in the USA own consoles, and 37% of men do. That probably shouldn’t seem surprising or weird, but no doubt it will, given that gaming marketers have been trying to convince us all since the ’90s that games are for boys. Somehow, women have prevailed over assumptions about whether or not they “should” play games, and we’re buying consoles anyway. Imagine how much more we’d buy if those products and their associated marketing materials cared about us? Gaming might even start to be perceived as a downright feminine pastime, along with other equally rad pattern-based hobbies like knitting and sewing. Ahhhh. Please, transport me to that alternate universe, post-haste!

Anyway, let’s all look forward to a bunch of guys reacting to this news by claiming that these women aren’t playing real games (whatever those are), and that although they buy consoles they probably don’t really play them (suuure), and that if these statistics included PC gamers then it would show such-and-such sexist justification, because all women prefer to sit around eating bon bons and making their boyfriends play games for them, and [insert any other equally nonsensical argument here].

It’s worth pointing out the rest of the demographics in the survey as well:


According to the data above, 39% of white people in America own a gaming console, 43% of black people own one, and 45% of hispanic people own one. (Someone who understands statistics better than I do should go cross-reference this data with the demographics of the US and then report back.)

Yet another statistic that goes against the grain of the assumed stereotype about gamers? While 56% of folks in the 18-29 age bracket own a console, 55% of people aged 30-49 own one as well. So, on the whole, console owners aren’t that young — and the stereotype of the white teenage boy screaming into his headset during a Halo multiplayer match? Well, that guy is definitely a minority. A vocal minority, sure. But a minority nonetheless.

So why do we keep acting like that guy is the only guy who plays games, again? Marketers? Developers? Bueller?

UPDATED on 11/4/2015 at 1:50 PM: My thanks to Liz England for clarifying the way in which these statistics should be framed, thereby leading to the corrected version of this article above.

(via Boing Boing, image via Gamerologies)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).