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Age and ageism in the Computer Games Industry

by on September 8, 2014

According to this piece on the Voice of America website, the computer games industry still thinks and behaves as if its products were only for teenage boys. It’s a myth that persists apparently even though the demographics suggest otherwise.  According to this page on the Entertainment Software Association website, the average game player is 31 years old, the average game buyer is 35 years old and 48% of gamers are women. Women over 18 make up 36% of gamers compared to boys under 18 (17%). And 26% of gamers are 50 or over.

What about the age of people working in this industry? I should declare an interest here as my 20 year old nephew has just started an internship with a UK based gaming company as part of his undergraduate degree in games software development.

For a handy infographic of the games development industry, click here.

In terms of an age breakdown of workers, the figures look like this:

  • <25 = 14%
  • 25-29 = 25%
  • 30-39 = 44%
  • 40-50 = 16%
  • over 50 = 1%

Should we be surprised that only 1% of people working in this field are over 50? Is this a matter of the relative youth of the industry? And why are the figures broken down in that way with a different number of years in each age category? Is this an attempt to make it look more age diverse than it actually is?

The original article debates the possible reasons for this age profile of workers including ‘culture’ (shorthand for ‘you’re too old to fit into a workplace that expects staff to work long hours, hang out with each other after work and essentially live their lives at work). Another is the age stereotype that equates youth with innovation.

For a personal account of being an older worker in the industry, see this blog post by David Mullich on the Gamasutra website.

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