Playing Politics: Why President Trump and Competing Democrats Should Try Wooing Gamers

It turns out that video game players are not only intensely serious about their gaming, but also about their politics.

In a study released Thursday, the video game industry lobbying group Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports that 65% of American adults–or about 164 million people–consider themselves gamers. Out of that group, 59%–or nearly 97 million–told the ESA that they’re civic-minded and plan to vote in next year’s presidential election.

That’s no small sample. Why? In the 2016 presidential race, voters cast more than 136 million ballots. Experts estimated that 77,000 votes swung the Electoral College vote in President Donald Trump’s favor. A swing the other way would actually have been enough to elect former New York Senator Hillary Clinton as POTUS.

A gaming electorate might actually be good news for Democrats. According to the ESA study, which includes responses from 4,000 American adults, about 37% of video game players consider themselves Democrats. Another 33% are Republicans, and 18% are Independents. The study didn’t say which way the gamers might be leaning in the 2020 election.

ESA’s study offers a compelling look into a group that isn’t often analyzed outside of the games they enjoy or the platforms they play on. The research sheds light on what video game players care about when they put down the controllers. And perhaps most importantly, it showcases a new generation of players who grew up playing Nintendo and PlayStation and are now exposing their children to the entertainment they enjoy, developing an entirely new generation of gamers.

The average American video gamer is 33 years old and has been playing games for 14 years, according to ESA. More than half of them are college educated, and nearly a third meditate regularly. About 57% of parents play video games with their kids at least weekly. And almost three-quarters of them say video games are educational and benefit their kids.

However, 90% of parents said that they keep a close eye on the games their kids play.

All of that appears to translate to one, important point: video games are here to stay. Perhaps that’s why the video game industry recorded its best year ever in 2018 with $43.4 billion in revenue for hardware, games, and services, up from $36 billion in 2017.

It’s also why politicians like President Trump or the nearly two-dozen Democrats hoping to unseat him in 2020 should pay attention to gamers. They’re a legion–and they vote.