Girl Gamers Go Online

College may be fun and games to students, as the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 65 percent are regular or occasional game players, and all had played a video, computer or online game at one time or another.

The survey, conducted among 1,162 students at 27 colleges and universities, revealed behavioral insight into college-age gamers, particularly regarding social interaction and study habits. Six-in-ten respondents indicated that they played games while their friends were unavailable; 48 percent reported that gaming kept them from some or a lot of studying; and 9 percent admitted that gaming allowed them to avoid studying altogether.

Students cited gaming as a way to spend more time with friends, as 20 percent felt that gaming helped them make new friends as well as improve existing friendships.

“As gaming devices like XBox, GameCube, PlayStation, etc., incorporate networked gaming into their machines and games, I think we’ll see a rather large jump in the number of people who will start up a game as much to be with their friends,” said Prof. Steve Jones, senior research fellow of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Jones notes that in some ways, the line between playing an online game and socializing is likely to become blurred as the game becomes a form of socializing in itself.

Interestingly, more females reportedly played computer and Internet games, while slightly more males played video games. Pew asserts that video games are often more action and adventure-focused, holding a higher appeal for male gamers, and online games can be gender neutral.

Which do you play the most?
  Video Games Computer Games Internet Games
Male 53% 19% 12%
Female 17% 32% 15%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

“I think there’s a sort of stereotype of the male gamer who plays first-person shooter types of games as being predominant,” Jones notes. “We saw that game playing is frequently a way for women to beat back boredom. Generally, men actively sought out game playing, while women did it because they felt there was nothing else to do.”

The fewest amount of respondents reported playing online games (56 percent) compared to computer games (71 percent) and video games (59 percent), but these ratios may be attributed to access. A computer with a couple of pre-loaded games is often more accessible than an Internet connection or a gaming console.

First started playing this type of game during:
  College Jr. High/High School Elementary School
Video games 2% 15% 69%
Computer games 9% 49% 28%
Online games 22% 43% 6%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Of those that play online games, 72 percent prefer hosted services over P2P, according to GameDAILY, and when asked, “Which of the two services provide the best overall download experience?” more than twice as many gamers surveyed said they prefer the overall experience of hosted download services (67 percent) to P2P services (33 percent).

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the 3,065 respondents cited concerns about spyware from P2P services, yet over half of those surveyed (54 percent) said they use the file-sharing apps anyway.

“Video gamers are a driving force behind both hosted and P2P download services,” said Simon Tonner, publisher of GameDAILY. “However this survey shows that concerns about the quality and security of these services are moving gamers toward hosted download services where they can get the performance and assurances that they need. This movement provides a significant opportunity for marketers to reach these opinion leaders through online demos, trailers and downloadable games.”

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