Ever since they first became popular in the late 70s and early 80s, video games have been seen as little more than toys for children. Most early video games featured kid-friendly characters and were generally easy enough for a child to learn how to play. For much of the 80s and 90s, playing Nintendo games was practically a national pastime among American youth.
There is no denying that kids love video games, but does that mean the games are in the same category of toys? While many people certainly put them into this category, video games aren’t necessarily for kids anymore.
Average Gamer Age
Those who still see video games as mostly for kids might imagine the average gamer as being a 12-year-old boy who spends all his free time in front of an XBox. However, the truth is that over 60 percent of the video game market is over the age of 18 and that the average gamer is 35 years old. This may come as a surprise to some people, but video games are often expensive. Consoles cost hundreds of dollars, and most new games sell for around $60. Not many kids have that kind of money, so it makes sense that most of the people buying these games are adults who have enough disposable income to do so.
The game companies themselves are well aware that adults are buying their products. This is why most modern game systems more closely resemble high-tech entertainment devices than toys. People use their consoles not only to play video games, but to stream movies on Netflix and access the Internet. The Playstation 3 and XBox 360 are more like a high-end PC than an Atari 2600.
More Sophisticated Games
When it comes to video games, a greater level of sophistication usually means better graphics, sound, and processing power. It can also come in the form of better storytelling elements. Modern video games have become a great storytelling medium that sometimes rivals movies and television in scope and ambition. A typical gamer might spend just as much time discussing compelling characters and intriguing plot twists as graphics and gameplay. Video games are now released with the same kind of fanfare and marketing blitz as your typical Hollywood blockbuster. Granted, most video game plots still boil down to “kill all the bad guys and save the world,” but it’s clear that game developers are trying to appeal to those who love intelligent storytelling and philosophical debate. They’ve been doing this for years, and they are slowly but surely getting better at it.
Even though video games that are still just escapist entertainment, many of them are clearly not for young children. Violence has always been present in video games, and in many modern games that violence is as gruesome and shocking as what can be seen in an R-rated action movie. Not only are these games violent, but many of them have plenty of swearing, sexual content, and other things that are clearly for adults only.
There will always be children who enjoy video games, and there will probably always be games that are made for them. However, it has become clear that games and gaming culture is starting to grow up.
Martin Maris frequently writes on tech and gaming topics such as cell phone apps, gadget accessories, the kensington ipad cases with keyboard, mobile gaming, AI, holograph technology and other fascinating topics.
Image credit goes to jimsheaffer.