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Game on readers! This week 180,000 fans of anime, comics, and video games will descend on New York Comic Con to connect with each other and brands IRL. A clear example of how video gaming has not only achieved mainstream status but is also a cultural force in our society permeating music to sports to fashion.

Need more proof?  The examples are endless – from Fortnite tutors to eSports scholarships to people making a living off of playing video games. Even ESPN Magazine featured a pro-gamer on its October cover. (Ninja, anyone?) These shifts are all illustrative of the rise of a whole new gaming ecosystem. One that extends beyond the console to experiences, merchandise, community, and entertainment.

It’s trends like these that led us to believe that there might be something very different about today’s video gamer. We wondered: “Does the stereotypical gamer – the single male in his parents’ house, staring at a big screen, living off of chips and soda — still exist?” Yes, we had anecdotal evidence to the contrary: co-workers banding together on gaming Slack channels; dads spending time with their kids at gaming conventions; female gamers at the helm of their own clothing lines. But this was still a hunch, and we wanted to know.

So, we leveled up our expertise, by partnering with Magid, a leading research firm in the gaming and digital media space. Together, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,300 18-44 gamers and non-gamers alike and interviewed 15 heavy gamers (playing 10+ hours/week) spanning age, gender, and U.S. location.

And we scored BIG. Our hunch proved true when our study uncovered an avid gaming segment who we call “Power Gamers,” those who play 10+ hours per week on console/PC – more hours than they spend exercising, listening to music or reading. This group accounts for 63% of all gamers, and surprisingly they are not who you might think they are.

Gamers are growing up and bringing their gameplay along with them. These Power Gamers are entering new life stages, becoming parents and homeowners with high incomes and high aspirations. While the priorities of today’s gamer have shifted, they are figuring out new ways to fuel their passion.

While gameplay tops the leaderboard, Power Gamers’ leisure time is also spent going to the movies, watching TV, listening to music and playing sports. Power Gamers are viewing and streaming on YouTube, Netflix and Facebook and are more likely than non-gamers to test out up-and-coming platforms like IGTV and Facebook Watch. These avid entertainment fans are opening their wallets and spending 6X more than non-gamers across the entertainment and media category.

And power spending on entertainment is just the tip of the iceberg. Get this: Power Gamers make more money than non-gamers and are spending more of it on retail, personal care and dining (to name a few). With an excess of almost $500/month, Power Gamers have money to spend.

BTW, if you’re a brand they love, then you’re in luck. Nearly half of Power Gamers are talking about brands on social and, more so than non-gamers, they have a strong influence over their family and friends. There’s a huge advantage in connecting with Power Gamers because when they love something, they’ll show it, wear it and share it.

But how do you get into the position of being loved?? Take a cue from gamers and learn a few cheat codes:

  • Be Fluent in the Power Gamer Language: Power Gamers connect with gaming titles and genres in ways only they understand, like UGC fan art and recreations, “easter eggs” of unexpected/hidden features within games, and MEMEs or GIFs only they understand.
  • Know the Power Gamer “Super Bowl Moments” and Act: Game launches and conventions are “can’t miss” events for Power Gamers. Similar to a fan’s Super Bowl prep, Power Gamers are gearing up for the latest game launch by upgrading their smart home and stocking up on their favorite foods. Align brand launches or content distribution around these tentpoles to ride the wave of the gamer’s existing conversation and excitement.
  • Understand the Power Gamer Media Ecosystem: As entertainment lovers, Power Gamers have a vast media diet.  While they spend time with traditional entertainment outlets, Power Gamers are fueling their fandom differently: they crave the unedited, unfiltered, and immediate nature of live events. They follow and engage with influencers and are watching multiple hours of online video.
  • Meet Power Gamers IRL: Gamers are taking their passion beyond the screen and engaging with fellow fans in real life. While eSports is a large piece of live, it is equally important for Power Gamers to connect and express their sense of belonging by attending conventions like RTX or Comic Con to build their community with tens of thousands of their closest friends.

Any one or more of these approaches can put brands on the path to turn Power Gamers into advocates. Power Gamers are game changers – a valuable, passionate and vocal audience not to be missed out on. Clearly not a small, niche part of the population as previously thought…those are actually the non-gamers. If you’ve gotten this far, consider yourself at max level now.  #ggwp (good game well played)

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