ESAC's findings show that 61 million Canadians are playing video games, but the number has only increased by 2% even with the Covid-19 pandemic keeping people at home more often. Although lockdowns have not made many people turn to video games for entertainment, those who already play games reported playing more — 58% of adults and 80% of teens increased their game time, with 65% and 78% respectively claiming that this particular hobby made stay-at-home orders easier.
(This finding follows on the heels of a psychological study conducted at Oxford, which found people who play Animal Crossing: New Horizons for a substantial period each day reported better mental wellbeing.)
Forty-four percent of parent gamers played games with their kids more often when stuck at home, ESAC reports. Meanwhile 43% of adults and 70% of teens reported that gaming made it easier to stay in touch with friends and family.
The gender divide among those polled who deemed themselves "gamers" is split perfectly at 50% male and 50% female (no numbers were provided for gender-nonconforming respondents). In terms of age, a whopping 89% of kids (age 6-17) play games, and 61% of adults aged 18-65; the average age for a Canadian gamer is 34. The biggest provincial population of gamers is Saskatchewan, where 68% of adults play video games, while Quebec had the lowest at 57%.
Looking at the findings on genre, ESAC found puzzle and word games were most popular for adults with 37% of the population partaking, and action/adventure for kids with 33%. Forty-eight percent of adult respondents play games on mobile devices primarily, 23% on computers, and 29% on consoles; among teens, 45% play primarily on consoles, 35% on mobile devices, and 20% on computers.
Fortnite and Mario Kart were the biggest hits with kids aged 6-17, while 18-54 year olds preferring Call of Duty or sports titles. More casual, timeless games like Solitaire and Candy Crush rise in popularity amongst older demographics.
With so many Canadians engaged in the medium, video game sales have increased in all categories, with hardware sales increasing 58%. This number will likely increase even further in the 2022 results, as the next generation consoles roll out and the pandemic continues.
"Our Real Canadian Gamer data supports that Canadians view gaming as an important mainstream form of entertainment that supports social connectivity, a sense of wellbeing and mental health," says ESAC President and CEO Jayson Hilchie. "Now more than ever, video games are a meaningful and powerful outlet for Canadians and the world. As we all do our best to navigate these difficult times, we can all continue to enjoy the many positive benefits available to us through the power of play."
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