The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has released updated statistics about the gaming industry as it kicks off its annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The ESA's article on the topic draws some interesting conclusions pertaining to common debates about video games, namely that "parents remain highly involved in their children's game play and see several benefits of entertainment software."

According to the ESA's report, "forty-five percent of parents report playing computer and video games with their children at least weekly and nine out of ten parents pay attention to the content of the games their children play. In addition, 68 percent of parents believe that game play provides mental stimulation or education, 57 percent believe games encourage their family to spend time together, and 54 percent believe that game play helps their children connect with their friends."

We're more interested in how the demographics show that the gaming crowd is getting older, and more diverse. In particular, consider these interesting stats:

  • The average gamer is now 37 years old
  • There's a near even split between male and female gamers
  • 65% of gamers play games with others in person
  • Gamers have been playing games for 12 years on average, which by the way, roughly coincides with the launch of the Nintendo 64
  • 45% of parents play video games with their kids

In terms of what players are actually playing,

  • 47% of online games played fall under the trivia/puzzle/game show category, with 21% going to action, sports, strategy and RPG.
  • Of the best selling games in 2010, 21.7% were action games and 16.3% were sports, closely followed by 15.8% for shooters.
  • When considering only computer games, that ratio is drastically different: 33.8% are strategy, 20.3% are RPG and 19.5% are casual, leaving tiny market shares for the rest.

Looking at the above statistics, the divide between PC and consoles, as well as local versus online play, is growing rapidly.

The good news? The video game industry isn't going away -- it's now a $25 billion industry.

The full report is available over at the ESA's website. Direct link to the report here.