The Death of the Non-Gamer

To the tune of: Kate Bush – Pi

As a PR and journalist, I’ve been frustrated by the non-gamers and anti-gamers – the people who haven’t played or would never play games – and how they control the media. As the years have gone by, their hold on the mainstream has been eroded and the review sections of most national media are now games-friendly but the main news pages are still run with an ethos that is often anti-games. I’d argue this is because the people running these pages are either older people who’ve never seen the point in trying games or, more likely, they’re just part of the burgeoning crew who are neo-Luddites; the type of people who use mobile phones and computers through sufferance, and can’t believe that the majority loves tech.

Yet, as we saw with the obsolescence of the WWII generation by the late 1960s, perceptual and control shifts can happen, and happen rapidly. Take a look at the graphs below, which illustrate how the population of gamers at large is going to shift in the UK over the next 20 years. I’ve used two data sources here, detailed at the bottom  – as data isn’t currently available for anyone under 16, I’ve pushed the % of gamers in that group to 100% – as it’s likely to be near that anyway. You can have a look at my data sets and a better look at these graphs here.

Looking at the rough numbers, I’m guesstimating that the turning point’ll be around 2023. I think this as that’ll be the point at which the generations that comprise at least 50% gamers will be greater than 50% of the total population. Of course, that’s not the same as running the roost, as there is a much larger proportion of older people who don’t play games at all and people are living longer and longer – but I’m imagining that the progression of the proportion of young people who are gamers will continue to near 100%, which will balance the oldies, and that more older people will play as they get older, as games will be more ubiquitous.

Again, despite the demographic shift, the older generation will still be in charge of the media, and the oldest generations will be more likely to be reading Dead Tree media than the anyone under 60 in 2030, so there will still be incentives to produce anti-games content (especially amongst the right-wing press whose readership is older anyway, and who are more likely to indulge in scare-mongering). It’s just that this out-of-date commentary will be irrelevant to the vast majority of the population – as Mary Whitehouse was by the late 80s, when she was better known as a figure of fun.

Data Sources
ISFE data http://www.isfe-eu.org/index.php?oidit=T001:662b16536388a7260921599321365911 and
Govt Stats http://www.statistics.gov.uk/populationestimates/flash_pyramid/UK-pyramid/pyramid6_30.html

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