Video Games

Stop Playing Fallout 4 a Moment and Read About This Gamer Survey

Industry-funded poll shows gamers as likely voters, party members.

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93 percent of gamers favor the death penalty for feral ghouls.
Fallout 4

Thousands of Americans will be skipping the Republican presidential primary debate tonight, not because they don't care (not all of them), but because, dude, Fallout 4 was just released today! It's time for the holiday drop of major studio games, and there's a whole bunch of shooting (or light-sabering) to do.

For gamers willing to delay their journey through a post-apocalyptic Boston for a little bit, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA, the trade group for the gaming industry), has put together a survey of the political attitudes of gamers.

They're calling the survey a "first of its kind." This is technically true, but Reason was still a year ahead by including a question about gaming habits in a couple of mass political surveys and then teasing some results from the outcomes.

ESA surveyed more than 4,000 adults who play video games at least three to four hours per week and asked them questions about their political beliefs. The ESA's big talking point from the survey is that 80 percent of them say they plan to vote in the 2016 election, compared to 75 percent of the general American population.

Here's what they note as the outcomes of their short list of questions:

  • 76 percent said they believe humans play a role in climate change;
  • 67 percent said they support stronger investment in renewable energies such as solar and wind;
  • 61 percent said they support cutting existing programs to help alleviate budget concerns;
  • 41 percent reported being better off financially than they were eight years ago;
  • 61 percent said there should be a more equitable distribution of wealth in the U.S.;
  • 42 percent support government providing parents more educational choices by providing taxpayer-funded vouchers to help pay for private or religious schools; and,
  • 40 percent said the military should be used "as often as is needed to promote U.S. policies," while another 40% said diplomatic solutions should be the aim of foreign policy.

Some of those outcomes would give readers the suspicion that gamers might be, in general, more liberal than the general population. That was actually Reason's findings in our polls last year. But when asked their political leanings for this survey, a plurality of the gamers (48 percent) described themselves as conservative. Only 38 percent described themselves as liberal, and 14 percent as other. When asked to identify their political parties, Democrats and Republicans were split evenly at 38 percent, with 24 percent identifying as independent.

So there's a good chunk of gamers who see themselves as conservatives, but not Republicans. What else is interesting about these numbers is that gamers actually appear to be more partisan than the general American public. Numbers earlier in the year from Gallup have 42 percent of Americans defining themselves as independent. Only 31 percent identify as Democrats and only 25 percent as Republicans. Based on ESA's polling, gamers are actually more likely to be a member of a political party than non-gamers.

Is there anything else interesting to tease from this survey? I wish it had delved in a little deeper on some of these issues—getting results that say they'd rather cut spending instead of raise taxes doesn't mean a whole lot when they're not asked what they'd cut. It is nevertheless useful to reinforce the idea that gamers are not part of some sort of separate, odd little subculture removed from the mainstream, in the event anybody out there still believes that's the case.

I hope ESA makes this kind of polling an annual event and maybe probes a little deeper. It's also helpful to actually compare gamers' answers to their questions to that of the general American population. If there is little differentiation, then that's certainly news, too, but as we discovered when we polled gamers, there are some areas (disinterest in government regulation) where gamers were truly distinct from non-gamers.

Read more about ESA's survey here.   

NEXT: Paris Climate Conference Greenhouse Gas Cuts: Almost No Impact on Global Warming

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  1. I’m expecting a slow day in Commentistan.

    1. I don’t get Fallout. Skyrim’s environment kept me entertained for a while, but all of these Bethesda games feel so mechanical and boring to me. Maybe I just get freaked out by every single NPC awkwardly turning and looking at me with their dead eyes while they ask for help.

  2. It is nevertheless useful to reinforce the idea that gamers are not part of some sort of separate, odd little subculture removed from the mainstream, in the event anybody out there still believes that’s the case.

    Nope. Jack Thompson and Anita Sarkeesian have PROVEN that videogames make people violent and sexist; thus, gamers are criminals.

    And don’t try and use data to refute this, the data aren’t relevant because I bellyfeel these things.

  3. I guess they were right after all. Playing video games makes you stupid.

    1. Fist hits the nail on the head once again.

  4. I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who rushed out to buy Fallout the first day. Chumps like you who pay a premium to get games and DLC right out of the pike make it possible for me to get the GOTY edition used for $25 a year from now.

    1. Yeah, but just try and get the Pip Boy edition a year from now.

      Mine is being delivered today.

      1. Yeah I’ll try to live with the pain of not having a piece of useless geek trash cluttering up my home.

        1. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

        2. Before this exchange descends into a snark war, let me confess that I am a total Fallout fanboy. I’ve loved it since the first game came out in the 90s.

          I don’t have time to play a lot of games, so I usually wait until they drop in price to the $20 – $30 range, but for Fallout 4, I jumped right in with both feet and bought the Pip Boy edition.

    2. Uh, that’s not how that works.

      People buying at full price at release are the reason you *have to wait* a year for the $25 price tag.

      If fewer people were buying it at full price, they would drop the price sooner.

      1. The people who buy at full price are paying the development costs, I just pay to keep the lights on at GameStop.

      2. If fewer people were buying it at full price, they would drop the price sooner.

        And the quality would suffer, especially for post-release patches…

        “Oh, but the game should be bug-free at release day!”

        And who’s going to pay for the time spent perfecting it? Also, like half of the iron laws apply here, most especially “The less you know about something, the easier it looks.”

        Which is not to say you are under any obligation to pay full price (I love a good Steam sale as much as the next guy), but don’t bitch about the people who do, either.

    3. When I finally graduate and have enough disposable income to buy a decent rig, I’ll give FO4 a look. Till then I have fond memories of burned-out, supermutant-overrun Washington DC.

      1. And better memories of dodging oversized wasp death machines around the ruins of North Las Vegas.

        My rig too, alas, is too paltry for this next installment of the Fallout series.

  5. Wait, we’re surprised that your typical gamer is an idiot? Have you ever played online with these mouth breathers?

  6. 61 percent said they support cutting existing programs to help alleviate budget concerns

    That’s interesting. It’s the one libertarian-compatible standout from the rest of the responses.

    Also interesting: respondents broke evenly into Democrat and Republican/Tea Party at 38% each, with 24% independent.

    They don’t say anything about the number of results or age breakdown, though.

    1. I was almost certain that they are in favor of eliminating programs that are trying to alleviate budget concerns.

  7. Yeah, that list ‘shit idiots believe’ really wasn’t necessary.

    All you had to do is pop into the Steam FO4 forum over the last month to realize that modern gamers are whiny, ridiculously entitled, children with the mental capacity of a not particularly bright cow that’s been grazing on somebody’s pot patch.

    Its fucking embarrassing.

    Normally I don’t see this sort of thing – there are only a small number of titles I enjoy that get AAA mainstream attention. But the console peasant culture has infected these fuckers. They all wanted MP, apparently so they could ensure they had someone to call ‘kikeniggerchink’ while they play – its not the same if you can’t make rape threats to anonymous strangers.

    1. All you had to do is pop into the Steam FO4 forum over the last month to realize that modern gamers are whiny, ridiculously entitled, children with the mental capacity of a not particularly bright cow that’s been grazing on somebody’s pot patch.

      Then there’s the 95% of gamers who don’t comment on the forums, probably because most of them don’t even know the forums exist. And the handful of forum threads that actually have any meaningful readership, i.e. the ones that turn up on a Google search for “why does X happen when I do Y?” or “how do I do Z?”, are usually devoid of whining and involve more constructive discussion.

    2. They all wanted MP

      I hate multi-player, and I hate developers who waste resources on it instead of perfecting single-player.

      1. My kids ask me about this. I also hate playing multi-player. I have to cooperate with all kinds of people in the real world. When I escape into a game for an hour or two, I want to just do my own thing.

      2. I like LAN play for competitive games (Civilization, etc.) and I rather liked the atypical multiplayer aspects of the Dark Souls series (get invaded in certain locations, offer to help random strangers).

        But multiplayer is a time-suck for developers (besides “getting it right” with the network/interaction code, they have to spend A LOT of time dealing with cheating, at least on PC) and it’s usually not worth it to spend time tacking it onto a game with an exceptional single-player experience.

        1. And like Ag mentioned, lack of MP is *always* the #1 thing the complainers complain about even if it makes no sense with the game.

  8. Do playing video games 3-4 hours per week make one a “gamer”? I suppose technically, but I think there is a big difference from someone who likes to occasionally indulge, maybe even with the kids and a hardcore “gamer”.

    And the questions are so vague as to be practically meaningless. Do humans play a role in climate change? A yes answer to that doesn’t mean one is firmly in the chicken little crowd. And do stronger investment in renewable energies doesn’t necessarily imply government subsidies.

    And was the last question an either/or regarding using the US military or diplomatic solutions? That is just plain stupid. I easily would say that diplomatic solutions should be the aim of US foreign policy while at the same time accepting the use of the military as often “as necessary” (of course the devil is in the details).

    1. I think there is a big difference from someone who likes to occasionally indulge, maybe even with the kids and a hardcore “gamer”

      “Hardcore” seems to mean a lot of shooting and blowing stuff up, regardless of hours spent – at least according to self-described “hardcore gamers”.

  9. Most gamers consider themselves conservative because the feminist twitter mob considers them Satan incarnate. It’s hard to be under the same big tent as the guys demonizing you.

    1. Who would have thought that accusing a group of people often known for identifying as loners and social outcasts of being powerful oppressors would be a little problematic?

      The soi-disant feminists did not really think this through.

  10. That’s what’s so weird about Gamer Gate. Most gamers are leftists or lean libertarian-left, yet are really puzzled when they are branded right-wing teathuglicans

    1. It’s the far left versus the near left; Maoist “cultural revolutionaries” versus European “democratic socialists”. The irony is that it may push many of the moderate lefties in a more rightward direction.

    2. Yeah, I just watched a video from Sargon where someone accused the very surely left Thunderfoot of having conservative values and in another one Sargon was accused of being right-wing. But in the former video, the reason was explained perfectly: “You say the same things as them”. So if you agree with someone on the right about some things, then you’re right-wing.

  11. I’m playing the game now, bugs and all. Life isn’t perfect and neither is Bethesda.

  12. Might get it in an hour or two. Still debating if I can hold out till after the Bethesda Bug-storm that accompanies their releases. But I made the mistake of watching a play through and now I’m getting the sweats.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY7x1L-gThk

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