Game Development Reference
Targeting an audience
The gaming audience is gradually growing older with the current average
age of the player in the late 20s. It has been reported, though, that the average
age of people who buy games is somewhere in the mid 30s. So the prevailing
wider perception that games are just for children is, in reality, no longer the
case; something which is reflected in the increasing number of 'darker' games
that are aimed at a more mature audience. To illustrate further the wider
appeal of gaming, it is also said that nearly 20% of game players are over 50
years of age.
The gender appeal is broadening, too, with more than 40% of gamers in
the USA being female and markets in other territories beginning to follow
suit. There are more female gamers playing online than hardcore gamers,
something that is not going unnoticed by many of the online gaming pro-
viders.There is still a concern that this broadening of the audience is not being
fully embraced by the conventional retail sector and that many high profile,
big budget games are still aimed at a young male audience with a preference
for adrenalin-stoked gameplay and technology-driven visuals over compelling
content.Where are the games that are the equivalent of the chick-lit novels or
films, for instance? There is clearly a long way to go before games are created
for all market sectors and target audiences with an equal standing.
Although it would be ideal to create a game that reaches this widening
demographic, as a writer, you are unlikely to be able to choose the target
audience, unless you are fortunate enough to convince a publisher that an
untapped market will buy huge numbers of the game based on your ideas.
More often than not, the intended market and gameplay style will have been
decided when you are brought onto a project, so it is vital that you consult
with the development team to ensure that you have a clear understanding of
the audience you are writing for.
The mythical mass market
Many games have foundered because they have been created with the idea
that they will appeal to a mass market that I do not believe exists. Adding
features that the publisher thinks will generate more sales may actually have
the reverse effect if those features alienate the core audience.
Interactive experiences are something very personal to an individual, and