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Digital marketers were aware well before #GamerGate that gaming has transcended its origins as a hobby for young males. The ascent of casual, social and mobile gaming over the past decade has helped broaden the appeal of gaming across demographic boundaries. But according to a new eMarketer report, “Worlds Collide: Videos and Gaming, and What Marketers Need to Know,” there’s still one place where gaming-related activity has a decidedly young, male slant: video.
The audience for gaming-related content on YouTube, for example, is predominantly male and young. A study by online vieo news site VideoInk found that the official sites for "League of Legends," "Call of Duty," "Grand Theft Auto" and "EA Sports FIFA" all had male viewership rates of over 90%, in some cases as high as 98%. The study also noted that at least 50% of the video audiences for all the games it studied were between the ages of 18 and 24.
The VideoInk study did look at only a portion of gaming-related content on YouTube, and focused on games in genres that typically attract more males as well as official YouTube channels, rather than the often-more-popular user-created ones (like PewDiePie). These points notwithstanding, the VideoInk data confirms what many in the industry take as a given: The world of sharing and viewing game play videos is dominated by young males.
Gaming researcher Newzoo tracked the demographics of esports, or video game competitions where players face off against each other in live venues. The company found that, in March 2014, 69% of respondents who frequently watched or participated in esports were male, compared with 31% who were female. The largest block of respondents in both genders was in the 21-to-35 age group, followed by the 36-to-50 group.
These demographic patterns are consistent with the types of fare that predominate in esports competitions: first-person shooters, war simulation, immersive fantasy environments and sports.
Still, games such as Clash of Clans, Minecraft and Pokémon are extremely popular on gaming-oriented site Twitch and YouTube, and their audiences are somewhat more diverse than those of the first-person shooters and sports games that otherwise predominate on those platforms.
However, any changes in the demographic makeup of this segment of gaming culture will probably unfold over years, not months. For now, marketers seeking to tap into the convergence between gaming and video should note the male-dominated demographic patterns and how they differ from gaming as a whole.
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