Gamer Study Says You're Hard-Core


I've always found it frustrating to surf the web on April 1. Because the web is already a rumor mill filled with misinformation and hearsay, April Fools jokes only seem to pour gasoline on the fire. The Web, already struggling for respect as a legitimate form of reliable information, basically embarrasses itself every first of April. In an attempt to publicize a juicy rumor, websites often fall victim to a sort of confirmation by population. The more sites that post a story (note JK3 story yesterday), the more comfortable we feel with the rumor's validity. So, it is with great hesitation that I pass on any news to you today. I have all the fact-checking skills of a 7th grader writing his essay on "Religious Symbolism of Ancient Egypt" the night before it's due. Consider yourself warned.

On that note, I bring you a Reuters article that reports on a study of video game players and their habits. The article's title picks on one aspect of the study, the fact that more video games are being played in low-income households than those of higher-incomes. However this is only mentioned in the first paragraph. Despite being one of those "gaming in mainstream media" articles, or perhaps because of it, there's quite a bit of interesting information worth discussing. Note that the article also says there isn't much of a difference at the "hard-core" level, defined as "those who buy more than six games per year" (how you like that? I'm hard-core!).

Yet at the same time, the report found teenagers in general were most concerned with value, as one-third said the most important factor in purchasing a game console was the lowest price, with 25 percent seeing the ability for the console to also play DVDs or CDs as most important.

This would seem to suggest that the Gamecube would outsell other consoles by a small margin for the teenager market. Clearly this market isn't the one doing all the actual buying since the PS2 and XBox seem to consistently outsell the cube. I've always been surprised by how many older gamers were choosing between the XBox and PS2 because of the ability to play DVDs. Most of them already had DVD players yet they couldn't see purchasing a console that didn't bother to include the option.

Only 8 percent of the teenagers surveyed said the ability for a console to play games online was an important factor in their decision.

I wonder how many of this study's results fall into a "chicken and egg" situation. Would more people be interested in playing their consoles online if there were compelling reasons to do so? Microsoft has done the best out of the three to give us reasons to play online and even they are running into issues with publishers not wanting to play by the XBox Live rules. Nintendo (spell-check suggests "unintended") has more or less punished anyone interested in playing the Gamecube online. Can a gamer be blamed for not wanting to play online after spending $30 for a broadband adapter, $50 for Phantasy Star Online, $9/month for a Hunter's License, and no practical way to communicate with the people he or she meets in-game? I do not consider fancy emoticons, canned messages, and a virtual keyboard that allows you to peck out 3 mistyped words per minute a practical solution. No, I'm not bitter.
The author of the report makes a nice statement at the end of the article reinforcing a viewpoint that many of us already share. The topic probably deserves its own discussion.

"Do boys like games more than girls? My assumption is no they don't, and the market is underserving women," Horwitz said. "I don't fundamentally think that boys like games more than girls."