The results are in. Video game players can rejoice -- they're the majority now, according to a Pew Internet & American Life survey. Over half of the U.S. adult population plays video games.
The expansion of this medium in the past three years has been intense, but the growth appears solid, and seems here to stay. Despite the fire and brimstone falling of financial markets, the Wii sold 2.04 million units in November according to NPD, over twice the sales of November 2007.
When I speak with marketers who belong to the 47% that don't play video games, they often express astonishment upon discovering the encompassing demographics of video game players. I think a shift needs to take place. Gaming has an image problem. Fifteen years ago, tech-savvy was akin to pocket protectors in the minds of the masses. Then Silicon Valley sexified the idea of entrepreneurial geeks, and eventually with Web 2.0 democratized media, with computer knowledge seen as enhancement rather than a detriment to social interaction.
The same functional shift has happened in gaming, but the image hasn't caught up to the reality yet. The fact is, an individual's identity as a gamer is no more remarkable than if she likes vanilla ice cream more than chocolate.
Marketers need to realize this shift has happened. Brands can take a coin, flip it, and get an idea of the odds as to whether their audience will be interacting with video games in the near future. If their demographic is under 50, a coin toss severely under-represents the probability that their audience games. The trick will be in targeting the right gaming channels -- but the question of whether gaming should be considered as part of the media mix is becoming moot.