A recent Pew Research study confirms that video games are now omnipresent in the lives of both boys and girls. For those who grew up in a time when many were sniffing out a friend’s Atari like a bloodhound, the universality of the numbers are startling. The Pew study shows 97% of all 12-17 year olds now playing video games with 86% using a home console.
While demonstrating how times have changed, the Pew study also shows that some tastes remain constant. Although many do play the Action and Adventure games that gain the most press and raise the biggest concerns among parents, these games trail in popularity to old standbys like Car Racing, Solitaire and Tetris. Somewhat encouraging to parents is the rise in popularity of the relatively new genre of guitar/rock/rhythm games which have surpassed the more violent fighter and horror games.
Figures from the 2009 Edison/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia study shed more light on the gaming boom. Our national survey found 12-17s averaging one hour and forty minutes of gaming per day. While still trailing time spent with TV by a wide margin, the average time spent with games is close to both radio and Internet among 12-17s and far exceeds time spent with DVD, magazines or newspapers.
Our study also shows half of all 12-17s playing video games in the previous 24 hours. And these kids are spending over three hours each day playing video games. As expected, boys are still the core consumers of games, spending four hours each day. But girls (1 hour, 23 minutes) are themselves major contributors to the many hours logged in the world of gaming.
With console-based online services such as XBOX Live also incorporating social elements into gaming, teens are allocating a greater percentage of their “screen time” to more interactive video pursuits. Opportunities abound for in-game marketing providers to reach teens with branded messages and product placement, but measuring the efficacy of in-game marketing remains a significant hurdle to more widespread usage of this emerging channel.