Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Article States Industry Lies About Expansion Of Market. Grandma: "Oh Really?"

I'm sure a lot of you have already read this entry over at Grand Text Auto, pointing to this article. The linked article states that the surveys used by the industry are unscientific and thus its findings false. The survey in question concludes that there are more older gamers and there are more women gamers. Because the survey was not done correctly, one must assume that the industry is doomed, and that mainly there are only 15-30 year old men that purchase and play games, and the attempt to sell to this non-existent older, female market will result in the collapse of the gaming industry. No really! Quote: "So why do I bother? Because 50 years from now, historians will have a crucial counterpoint to understand why the industry had its head in the ground."

Naturally Grandma and I disagree.

In the article the list of "likely responses" to its purpose includes "All my friends play games, so there!" and I would like to give the author just such a response. A lot of folks in the industry read the site enough to know the e-mails and comments we get from older women gamers and from folks who know and aspire to be older gamers in the future are sincere.

Was the survey the article points to unscientific? Maybe. But that's no reason to assume apocalyptic marketing in the years to come, or even discard the ability to look to other sources for signs of an expanding market. Here's our response (also posted as a comment on Grand Text Auto's site. We like Grand Text Auto.)

I’ve read the article, so I understand the principal argument, that the surveys were not done in a such a way as to be considered sound proof of the age and gender expansion of the gaming market.

That’s fine.

However, I completely disagree with the notion that the market is not expanding; and that both the age and gender gaps are [edit: "not"] indeed closing. It’s true, I don’t have documents to show true percentages of sales and usage- but I do have Grandma. Grandma and I have received hundreds of e-mails from mature women gamers who claim to be over 50 and into the same sort of games she is. This wasn’t enough; but the hundreds MORE e-mails from folks saying “she reminds me so much of my Grandma, who passed recently/lives today/kicks ass and loves Zelda/God of War/Devil May Cry/Final Fantasy…” really helped me to understand that Grandma is by no means unique in her character.

Look at age for instance; arcades have been around since the 1970’s, so it makes perfect sense that one who was, say 7 years old at the time could still be playing today, with new systems and new games. Such a person would be around what, 40 years old today? Now the marketing of the games has been carefully narrowed to a young, male demographic- but for those who now have the support of the community and of their peers, there is only the game, and not the advertisements. The 15-30 Male Demographic is self sustaining and productive for game developers, but it isn’t exclusive anymore. There isn’t as big a stigma for those who play outside their caste. The expansion of gaming to the elderly, the very young; to both genders and to all economic classes is an inevitability in a society in which gaming has infiltrated most popular entertainment outlets- as it is mentioned in movies, books, politics, education, the military, etc.,…

The evidence Grandma has, while anecdotal, was not designed to assist the game industry to convince others or to help them increase sales. It was a response to Grandma’s stories. This too, is not scientifically valid- but it retains the fundamental elements of the survey- that more older folks and more women are turning to games for entertainment.

So what do you guys think? Is there only a marginal female gaming community? Do only a random few elderly folks enjoy games along with their families? Or is someone overreacting?

Personally I think he's a big poop head.


  • At 8:33 PM, Blogger Elyscape said…

    There are several problems with the article. First is this: just because the ESA has not released their method does not mean it was invalid. It's perfectly possible that the method was totally valid and the conclusions are spot on. Since they won't release their method, we cannot be assured that it was valid, but we cannot just assume that it was invalid.
    Secondly, if we can somehow ascertain that the method is completely invalid, we still cannot say anything about the results. To say that results obtained with a flawed method are the opposite of truth is as much of a fallacy as to say that they are gospel. By looking at the results and declaring that they must be a complete mirror of the world is far less scientific than anything the ESA's survey could have done.

  • At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's can't be based on just one survey, can it?

    I know this guy knows his stuff, there was a huge thing in The Escapist about him, but you can't base those kind of conclusions on just one survey.

    Maybe he's just jaded by the game industry, I don't know.

    There are A LOT of us Girl Gamers out there, (I'd say of all ages, but this isn't the site to say that :) so the industry isn't full of shit.

  • At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm a girl and I love my games! All my friends who are girls love their games and well as most of our moms.

  • At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Another female gamer here. To cry that there shouldn't be any marketing to the older gamer/female gamer demographic is just...Insane! Even if there weren't many female/older gamers (which I entirely disagree with, knowing many myself, but whatever), how are we supposed to ever hope to expand the markets if you don't appeal to different demographics in the first place?


  • At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, 25 year old male gamer here. I've been reading your website for the last few months and I'm a huge fan. :D After reading the rebuttal to the ESA article, I felt the need to make my maiden post. Sorry for the length.

    While the statistics might not be bound in a university lab manual with pretty graphs and a ten page equation, the results seem fairly common sense. My generation is growing up with video games as my parent's generation grew up with tv. As we age, the average age of gamers over 30 will increase. As tv was introduced into society, those who had lived their lives before, and subsequently without, a television probably didn't rush out to the nearest store to buy one. The video game market is still too young to predict either way if kids who grew up with video games will "grow out of them" or continue to be gamers. My parents certainly haven't "grown out of tv".

    It seems to me, the author's bias against the video game industry shines through on more than one occasion. Stating the game industry is creatively stagnant is as ridiculous as saying only big name companies can break through. It sounds like he has video game publisher mixed up with video game developer. Sure, only Nintendo, Microsoft, Rockstar, Konami, Capcom, EA, Sony, Ubi Soft, Square-Enix and a few others publish the big names; but developers like Insomniac (Spyro, Ratchet), Retro (Metroid Prime), HB (various EA sports titles), Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot, Jak), Intelligent Systems (Paper Mario), Rare (RIP) (anything good on N64) are hardly big name companies. They're just incredibly good at what they do and are therefore contracted by the big-names. As for lack of creativity, we went from fucking Pong to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in 30 years.

    A little advice on writing aimed at the guy who wrote the essay who most likely will never read it; but whatever. Firstly, using sarcasm in the written word is tricky business. Often it just comes off as pouty, as can be evidenced in your choice of mock video game titles, and does nothing to further your point.

    Secondly, dictating which responses you expect to get and which of those are favourable boils down to using reverse psychology to try and bully people into sharing your opinion; but just for the record, I also vote poop-head.

    Third, the only humourous part was your addendum when you site the Harvard study on video game violence and come up with the number of 1 billion virtual deaths. The fact that these 10 million kids are isolated systems and therefore their virtual carnage is not additive never stopped your stat skewing... which I believe was your initial point.

    Grandma pwns Chris Crawford.

  • At 2:34 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    Exactly! Now it might not work for Mr. Crawford, but I am pouty, so it suits my character to respond thus; sarcasm hasn't failed me yet.

    [Except on that Psychology paper in which we claimed that Tom Cruise should be appointed Grand High Poo-bah of the APA; not surprisingly our team was not published.]

    That's pretty much what we're saying, that the results of these surveys, while biased as they are, conclude logically enough that investors can form a rational opinion on the state of the market; and that market has changed.

    orderserenityeclipse, you make a good point that indeed, creativity and ingenuity HAVE been produced by some great developers, while contracted by the big publishers, are nonetheless cutting edge stuff.

    There are market induced games out there, 187 Ride or Die keeps popping up as an example and that's fair enough; but they do not make the majority. I'd like to see a sales comparison of a Mary Kate and Ashley franchise put up next to Silent Hill or Xenosaga to compare popularity with gameplay, and finally comparing the resulting figures. While both may have terrific distributors, gamers are a finicky bunch, and tend to purchase in trends not dictated by a marketing staff but rather on the anecdotal evidence supplied by other gamers.

    If a game sucks, we know about it before it even comes out.

    But I rant. (don't apologise for lengthy posts, we all do it and it makes for an excellent catharsis.)

  • At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Clarifying earlier statement, I agree with your assertion that the guy is a "big fucking poop head." So everyone knows that... and yeah... Brain no think so good.

    Also, so you know, I loves Tim and Grandma, and by heaven I will cut you if you say otherwise (kidding! Sort of. No sleep and bad back injury make for an aggressive Blue what makes angry empty threats whilst waving a pencil around menacingly!)

    Be good everyone. Bleah!


  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger Siesh said…

    Yet another female gamer here. I've been playing video games since I used to go to the arcade and plug a quarter in to play Galaga (my personal favorite). Had the high score for 2 years running, thank you very much. (my mommy wouldn't let us have any at home, not even PONG!) But I digress.. :o)

    Big fucking Poop HEAD! Amen.

    And I will keep ON playing until I am physically unable to do so. So GAME ON LADIES!!!!!!! ;o)

  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's amazing how many female gamers you'll get just by asking. It's almost like someone should do a survey... hmmm...

    I didn't get into games until I was 20, but only five years later I'm pretty damn addicted. I've spent considerable amounts of time working my way through both KotOR -- which, thank god they understood that some girls would LOVE that game and let me get it on with Carth. Just because I play video games doesn't mean I don't need to girl out on them. :P But yeah, I find that more and more of the RPGs coming out actually ARE girl-friendly, or maybe it's just that most of the gamer-girls I know enjoy a good story rather than just shooting each other in Halo. On the other hand, I can watch Red vs Blue all day because I get the joke.

    I am gamer girl -- hear me frag.

  • At 3:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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