Serious Gamer Demographics Related to Leisure Gaming
The Entertainment Software Association found that in 2011, the average game player’s age was 37, with most gamers in the 18- to 49-year-old bracket, and the proportion of female gamers increasing to 42%. As adult interest in leisure games expands, so, we assume, does adults’ willingness to learn from serious games.
Certainly, serious games, particularly simulation games, have come into wide use for such adult learner communities as first responders, both domestic and military, and business managers developing soft skills. An MIT study found that some of the most effective games for a broad adult audience used engaging, highly interactive experiences using touch screens. Brain Age games appeal to a wide range of adults and have “spawned a whole new genre of games termed “training games,” rebranding their play as a form of creative work.”
The same study observed that casual short games, easily learned and completed quickly, are also gaining popularity. Casual games can be versions of real world games for example, such as Scrabble or solitaire. Interestingly, “The single biggest demographic for casual online games are women between the ages of 35 and 50.” Such games may thus serve as a model for learning games among that demographic.
Serious Gamers’ Unique Demands
Although the MIT study noted that the boom-bust cycle of children’s edutainment seems to have begun its downward trend with its loss of innovative energy and consolidated emphasis on “thinking games” not directly related to real world scenarios, we know that adult learning game design has focused on increasingly realistic scenarios related to the vital issues of business and emergency management.
This trend in adult learning games makes sense in light of the principles of andragogy. Adult learners want their knowledge and success acknowledged, and learning games provide immediate feedback with text and/or points. Adults want to be self-directed and experientially involved in learning activities, and simulation games give them exactly that control and engagement while meeting adult learners’ other demand – that their learning experience be directly applicable to real-life needs. They also benefit from the retention rates associated with serious game learning models: 80% from practice by performing a new skill, and 90% from immediate application of the skill.
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