Since the appearance of the first videogames, that could be found both in arcade or on the first few PCs, the videogame market expanded, pairing with the exponential technological growth registered within the early twenty years of the twenty first century.
According to 2020’s data, the European videogame market’s value exceeds 23 billion euros. Therefore, it would be misleading to think that young people or nerds, who are constantly stereotyped, are the only consumers; however there are several prejudices that seem hard to kill.
A survey carried on by the ISFE (Interactive Software Generation Europe) the EGDF (European Games Developer Federation) presents some figures about the videogame sector in Europe. There are several aspects summed up in the 2021 Key Facts about the European videogame industry. First of all, making an estimate in the five European Countries that have been taken into account (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain) it appears that a citizen out of two between 5 and 64 years of age plays using a console, a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. According to those same figures, in all age ranges between 5 and 34 years of age, more than 50% people play using electronic devices, with a very high percentage school age range, but with a remarkable participation of people between 15 and 24 years of age (72%, almost 3/4 of the population). Even in the “young” adults range (25-34 years old) there are 60% of players. Among the individuals who are older than 34 years old, on the other hand, the use of videogames shrinks under 50%, reaching 31% in the sample taken into account of people between 45 and 63 years old. Another figure that has to be taken into account is about the relationship with the most used entertainment device: television. On average, a person watches television for 23,5 hours each week, videogame use takes up to 9,5 hours.
Those considerations mark a gap between the daily habits of younger generations and older ones. In the future, it will be interesting to evaluate whether the generation between 25 and 34 years of age, that includes a substantial number of gamers, will undergo a drastic decrease, like the previous one, or maintain its percentage above 50%, acting as an indicator of a greater generational homogeneity in the use of videogames.
Among the other aspects that have to be taken into account, the fact that many videogame consumers are under age, and therefore more vulnerable to high risks, cannot go unnoticed. On the one hand, they might use videogames that are inadequate for their age and sensitivity, on the other, they might fall victim to computer crimes of various kinds. Actually, regarding computer crimes, the problem is not limited to younger generations, it includes all the people that are unaware of certain risks that can be found while browsing on the Internet.
In order to contain these two phenomena, there is the PEGI classification system (Pan European Game Information), that allows the classification of videogames based on age and contents. It serves as a useful guideline for parents in the purchase of videogames for their children.
However, it is still necessary to educate children toward a digital consciousness that makes them aware of the risks that can be encountered while interacting with other gamers, especially considering the fact that the online videogame market is living in an expansion era. The European Union should also be moving toward this direction, willing to fill some gaps presented in its set of rules in the digital field. Apart from the GDPR, which concerns digital data protection, the Union intends to implement a text, the Digital Services Act (DSA), that will be required to monitor contents for digital services users.
Since this is still a relatively new form of entertainment, the videogame sector surely shows huge margin for expansion. In order for this growth to be followed by a path aligned with the expectations, it will be necessary to define proper rules to protect the gamers.
Link for the text of the document “2021 Key Facts about the European videogames sector”: https://www.isfe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021-ISFE-EGDF-Key-Facts-European-video-games-sector-FINAL.pdf