“Canadians are finding ways to stay connected and engage their minds in positive ways; they are looking for joy and entertainment in what can only be characterized as one of the most difficult times in modern human history. We have found that Canadian gamers recognize the power of play, and they are engaging more and more in the immersive and connected experiences that our industry creates. We will get through this period together, and video games will continue to be both an outlet for people but also an important way to keep them connected to their families and friends.” —JAYSON HILCHIE, President & CEO, Entertainment Software Association of Canada


A recent study found that Canadians are increasing their video gameplay levels since Covid-19 as a means to stay connected and entertained during times when we must limit our in-person social interactions.

ESAC, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, recently released the study entitled Real Canadian Gamer – Essential Facts 2020. ESAC represents major video game console makers, publishers, large and small independent developers, and national distributors. For more information on ESAC, please visit their website at theESA.Ca

ESAC notes that the average age of Adult Gamers in Canada is 38. The gender split between Adult Gamers in our country was 50/50 male to female. Puzzle and word games are the most popular genres of video games in Canada. Mobile devices continue to be the primary way Adult Gamers access and play video games, with consoles being most popular among Kids and Teen Gamers. Canadians participating in Esport spectatorship continues to grow, as 40% of Canadian gamers view game streaming content.

Jayson Hilchie, President & CEO, Entertainment Software Association of Canada, notes, “Games are really being seen as an outlet for a lot of people. They are making people feel better during what I think for most people will probably be one of the worst years of their life.”

The study found that 58% of Adult Gamers and 80% of Teen Gamers reported playing more video games during the pandemic. The study found that not only are Canadians playing more video games, but a considerable number of them say it is helping them feel better emotionally. The study found that 65% of Adult Gamers and 78% of Teen Gamers reported that gaming while supporting stay-at-home health measures makes them feel better.

“This research is a survey of thousands of consumers across Canada,” Jayson explains. “Of people who play video games and it’s all about who’s playing, how are they playing and most importantly, how video games are making them feel better and improving their lives, especially during this pandemic.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate executive or a service sector employee, or if you’re a kid or if you’re retired, everybody in Canada is playing games, and games are making people feel better, especially when we’re dealing with this tough situation.”

Games are also helping parents find common ground with their kids while assisting them in spending time connecting. The study noted that 65% of Adult Gamers with children ages 6 to 17 reported playing video games with their children, and 44% reported playing more often during COVID-19.

“People think about video games as simply a form of entertainment, but video games are really a lot more than that, Jayson notes. “They are the most immersive connected form of entertainment that you can really enjoy. When we couldn’t see our friends and couldn’t connect with our families, the games’ online components have really been allowing people to connect. Now they’ve been stuck at home, but they can access their friends and their family, and video games have really become like a social network.”

Jayson Hilchie joined ESAC as President and CEO in 2012. Under his leadership, the organization has broadened its membership to include a cross-section of most publishers, mobile developers, and independent studios, making the association more inclusive and strengthening its voice to the government. He has successfully led multiple government advocacy campaigns in provinces across Canada and was the lead advocate for the industry with the federal government in Ottawa. He has represented the industry in front of Prime Ministers, senior Cabinet Ministers, and multiple Parliamentary Committees. Before joining ESAC, he was Director, IT & Interactive Media at Nova Scotia Business Inc.