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The researchers here at Big Fish created a survey to better understand gamers in the U.S.  We got over 1000 responses, which gave us some powerful insight into the demographics and habits/practices of a large contingent of gamers.  Some of our data is a bit different than other surveys conducted, and that is probably related to the fact that more casual gamers were sampled for survey recruitment.

Summary of findings and associated insights


  • The median age range of players is 25-34. Other age groups are also represented, in typical bell curve (more in the middle) fashion.  8% are over the age of 55.  This is the typical age range for gamers, as many of them grew up with video games in the 1970s and 1980s and continue to be passionate about them.
  • A high percentage of respondents were women:  66%.  Males accounted for 33% of responses.   As a point of contrast, most surveys related to gaming would peg the female population at 47% or less.  In some of the more ‘hardcore’ communities, it can be as low as 10-12% (my own research on online gamers).  One interesting note is that women also fill the hardcore gamer role, and many of the guild and team leaders in online games are women who invest a lot of time managing their favorite community.
  • A fairly high percentage of players are married (46%) but a fair number are also single.  Gaming is an activity that can be done individually or as a bonding activity for couples or families.
  • The majority of players have been on the Internet since the mid 1990s or before.
  • Most players (86%) have attended at least some college.  This trend is borne out in much other gaming research, as gaming is a core hobby for many college students, who don’t give up the hobby once they graduate.
  • 53% of players have no children.  One could say that maybe having less kids means more available time for gaming and other leisure activities.
  • Yearly household income tends to be in the range of $25,000-$50,000 per year.  64% work full or part time.  This places most of the gamers firmly in the middle class.
  • Most players live in the Northeastern U.S.  A possible reason for this distribution is the cold weather keeping people inside!

Other data sources:

  • The average gamer is 30 years old and has been playing for 13 years. 68% of gamers are 18 or older. (ESA)
  • 45% percent of all players are women. Today, adult women represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%). (ESA)
  • 62% percent of gamers play games with others, either in-person or online. Seventy-seven percent of these gamers play with others at least one hour per week. (ESA)
  • 53% of Americans play video games. (2008, Pew)



  • Players enjoy games across a range of platforms and devices.  60% express a preference for laptops and 51% for desktops.  This data is interesting since desktops are on the wane, but clearly there are gamers out there who require the horsepower only a good gaming rig can provide.
  • Women seem to mostly use platforms/devices that kids might also use.  The Kindle Fire is also popular, as its primary function as an ebook reader.  It’s possible that the women surveyed identify less as gamers and might be more prone to gaming on a casual or opportunistic basis, rather than deliberately seeking out game hardware and games like the more hardcore (male or female) gamer might.
  • In general, people with no children gravitate towards consoles, tablets and the Nintendo DS, same as parents with children do.  This indicates that adults are prone to buying themselves toys, too, especially when they have more disposable income (not paying kid expenses!)

Other data sources:

  • 46% of women cite their smartphone as their preferred gaming device and 48% of men prefer consoles. (Play-Span/Magid)



  • Players with no children spend a significantly longer time playing games.  Again, this is probably a factor of time for leisure activities.
  • There is a marked preference for single player games on mobile phones and generally, as well, though many respondents (38%) say they like both single and multi-player games.
  • A majority of players seek out free games or games that cost less than $5, indicating that there is considerable price sensitivity in the space.
  • Most of the players finish the games they start.  64% of players spend at least 6 hours on most of the games they play.  Gamers are persistent and determined people, not giving up on games once they have chosen to play them.
  • Most of the players say they use walk-throughs and cheats fairly rarely.  This is likely related to the types of games they’re playing:  less complicated and therefore requiring less cheats and walk-throughs to succeed.

Other data sources:

  • 53.5 % of gamers play on Windows. (Steam)
  • Men are three times as likely to make in-game purchases as women, and 82% of women prefer a free model. (Play-span/Magid)



  • 100% of players surveyed own a smartphone.  An interesting data point, although it seems fairly clear that just about everyone 8 and up has a smartphone these days.
  • Most players (68%) spend little time gaming on their phones: 0-1 hours per day.  A small percentage (2%) game for 11 or more hours per day.  This data points to the casual nature of gaming for many of these people.  Gaming is something they do when they have time to kill, like at the bus stop, or on breaks from work.
  • Android is the most popular operating system, followed by IOS (iPhone).  Windows Phones trail at just 4.5% and Blackberry has a mere 2% share among the respondents surveyed.  Android wins because of total cost of ownership and flexibility of options.  There are a plethora of free games and other quality games that are relatively inexpensive and the hardware tends to be cheaper than Apple products, as well.

Other data sources:

  • Gamers play on-the-go: 36 percent play games on their smartphone, and 25 percent play on their wireless device. (ESA)
  • 71% of teens 12-17 own a cell phone (2004-2008 data, Pew)
  • 59% of those who own a mobile device play games. This is a 13% increase over the previous year. (2011, Popcap)


We’ll be sending out additional surveys in the future, so please contribute if you can!  Also, feel free to contact us to suggest survey questions you’d find interesting.  


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