It’s a little-known fact that the phrase “the children are our future” was actually originally uttered by a gaming company executive. A very forward-thinking person, indeed, seeing past both the gaming world’s early for-kids branding and the hardcore face it would wear during the early 2000s. He saw all the way to the point where gaming was so unavoidable as a cultural force that even toddlers would be unable to avoid its draw.
A study by NPD Group has determined that around 91% of kids aged 2-17 play games (and not just tag and such), comprising a group some 64 million children strong. If that isn’t a market, I don’t know what is.
The biggest growth was seen in mobile devices, not surprisingly, but the jump is remarkable: in 2009 only 8% of kids in this range were doing mobile gaming. Now, that number is 38%. Furthermore, the biggest growth has been seen in the 2-5 age range. More kids are playing more games, some before they can speak properly.
Again, the growth isn’t necessarily a surprise, but it’s always a little bit of a shock when you see the numbers. There’s no argument any more that games do not make up a significant and growing part of popular culture. As these gamer kids grow up, that part is only going to become larger.
This trend has a lot to do with smartphones, I would wager. Not only do many parents have apps for their kids to play with on their iPads and phones, but more and more kids in elementary and middle school have phones capable of doing more than making calls and sending texts. Essentially it’s been a huge stealth distribution of low-cost gaming consoles.
The upsurge in young people gaming, especially in mobile, will probably be followed by a software rush. Zynga is probably in the best position to take advantage, being for many kids a more relevant gaming platform than Nintendo or Sony.
The full report is available for purchase if you’re interested in more than the highlights.