All of the 1,162 students surveyed on 27 campuses by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported they had played a video, computer or online game at one time or another. Fully 65 percent of college students reported being regular or occasional game players.
Among the more surprising and notable findings, PEW reports:
- Students cited gaming as a way to spend more time with friends. One out of every five (20%) gaming students felt that gaming helped them make new friends as well as improve existing friendships.
- Gaming also appears to play a surrogate role for some gamers when friends are unavailable. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of students surveyed agreed that gaming helped them spend time when friends were not available.
- 48 percent of college student gamers agreed that gaming keeps them from studying "some" or "a lot." In addition, about one in ten admitted that their main motivation for playing games was to avoid studying.
- One third of the students surveyed admitted playing games that were not part of the instructional activities during classes.
Prof. Steve Jones, Senior Research Fellow of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and principal author of the new report said, "In some ways electronic games are to this generation what cops 'n' robbers was to an earlier one -- everyone plays them, everyone knows them. They are almost an automatic part of what teenagers and college students do for fun and leisure."
- One surprising finding was that women are more likely than men to be regular players of computer and online games--approximately 60 percent of women compared to 40 percent of men reported this, while about the same number of men and women reported playing video games. Said Jones. "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."
- Asked about the social down side of gaming, whether college students played games instead of being with their friends, 65 percent of the students said gaming has little to no influence in taking away time they might spend with friends and family.
The last few years have been a boom time for the gaming industry. The gaming industry reported sales of over $6.5 billion in 2002 and the research firm Datamonitor estimates online gaming revenues will reach $2.9 billion by 2005.
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