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Study: Games a Hot Subject on Campus

17 Jul, 2003 By: David Ward

Providing even further evidence of the growing role of video games in the United States, a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found nearly two-thirds of both male and female college students play some form of interactive games, even to the point many felt it impacted their studies.

The survey, compiled from questionnaires completed by 1,162 college students on 27 campuses nationwide, found 65 percent were regular or occasional game players. Though half the students said gaming keeps them from studying either “some” or “a lot,” the survey noted that their study habits closely matched those of college students in general.

In what has to considered good news for the video game publishers, the survey also found that college women are avid game players, with 60 percent of women surveyed saying they played online and PC-based games, compared with 40 percent of men. Men, by the way, prefer console video games. Fifty-six percent play video games at least once a week, 41 percent play PC games at least once a week, and 37 percent play online games that often.

“What we found is that it's a very social activity,” Steve Jones, chairman of the communications department at the University of Illinois-Chicago, said in a release that accompanied the report. “It's not taking the place of studying; nor is it taking away from other activities. What they seem to have done is incorporated gaming into a very multitask-oriented lifestyle.”

Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) president Doug Lowenstein said the survey provides even more evidence that games are accepted by the general public as a major leisure activity. “The groups that seem resistant to this reality are now in the minority, made up of those generations who may not fully understand and are afraid of today's technologies, just like previous generations felt that rock 'n' roll music would destroy civilization as we know it,” he said.

The IDSA continues to represent the industry against attempts by legislators to control either the content or the sale of games. Asked if studies such as the Pew report will help the industry in these battles, Lowenstein answered, “Yes and no. There will always be lawmakers who attack computer and video games regardless of what the science, their constituents, or even their grandchildren who may play games, say. Clearly, though, recent studies like the Pew study and research from the University of Rochester do have the potential to change perceptions in positive ways. Eventually, the politicians will be people who have grown up with games and may even be gamers, and these issues will recede.”

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