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Video Games: Attitudes and Habits of Adults Age 50-Plus

The video game industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy with more than $23 billion in sales last year. Innovation present in this industry affects not only entertainment but also business, engineering, health, and education. AARP and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have a shared interest in determining how video games can positively impact people age 50-plus. To find out more, AARP and ESA recently commissioned a survey on Americans age 50-plus to uncover their gaming habits and answer questions around where they play video games, the types of games they play, their reasons for playing and with whom. In this survey, gamers were defined based on questions related to ownership of various systems/devices, and whether respondents had personally used any of those devices for playing video games at least once per month.

spinner image Couple sits on the floor, each holding a video game controller and laughing

Key Findings:

  • Close to four in ten adults aged 50-plus are gamers (38%) while 62% are non-gamers.

  • Gamers aged 50-plus most commonly use computers/laptops (59%) and phone/other mobile devices (57%) to play video games.

  • Nearly six in ten (59%) gamers say they play games online. 

  • Three-quarters of gamers play video games weekly, with four in ten gamers saying they play video games every day.  Interestingly, a greater proportion of older gamers compared to younger gamers report playing video games weekly or more often (37% of 50-59 year olds compared to 43% of 60-plus say they play every day). 

  • Women lead men in gaming.

    • Women are more likely to be gamers than men – 40% of women are gamers vs. just 35% of men.

    • Moreover, female gamers are more likely to play daily than male gamers (45% vs. 35%).

    • Women (57%) are significantly more likely than men (43%) to say they play more today than they did five years ago.
  • Card/tile games (46%) and puzzle/logic games (44%), followed distantly by trivia/word/ traditional board video games top the list of respondents’ three favorite types of video games.

  • In total, 22% of gamers have made any video game related purchase in the past 6 months. Of the gamers who made purchases, 77% bought for themselves, while 52% bought for others.

  • Half of online gamers report playing games online more today than they did five years ago.

  • The top reason gamers say they play video games is to have fun (26% say this is an extremely important reason and 52% say it is very important).

This online survey was conducted for AARP and ESA by GfK using the GfK Knowledge Panel. The survey was fielded from March 9 through March 17, 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 2,964 adults ages 50-plus (gamers, n=1510; non-gamers, n=1454). The data are weighted at two levels, first to demographics among total respondents and second to demographics within the gamer/non-gamer groups of qualified respondents.  For additional information about this report, contact G. Oscar Anderson of AARP Research at  Media inquiries should be directed to AARP’s Media Relations Office at