Friday, August 12, 2005

The "Gaming" Industry

I've often noticed that when I am interested in issue or product X, I am much more likely to assume that society-at-large is interested in X as well. Or if my interest in X starts to wane, I almost immeditately conclude that society is becoming bored with X. Sure, that way of thinking is pretty conceited, but I guess it's part of human nature.

Video games are a great example. I think that the last game I played with any regularity was Tennis and Skiing on the Atari--which was basically a series of computerized stick figures with extremely limited mobility! Not very state-of-the-art. I'm sure that if I started playing video games today, I'd soon become addicted (like most people who play). But honestly, video gaems have zero interest for me.

So when I hear about the popularity of video games, it's easy for me to dismiss it as a segment of addicted teens who go a bit overboard.

In Al Mohler's commentary this morning, however, he points us to (but unfortunately doesn't link to) a significant article by Christine Rosen, published in The New Atlantis: Playgrounds of the Self. Here are some pretty shocking statistics that Mohler recounts:

  • The vast majority of adolescent males are engaged in some form of video gaming.
  • Nevertheless, the average age of a video gamer in America is thirty.
  • Half of all Americans now play video games.
  • Over 90 percent of American kids from age two to age seventeen are regulars.
  • The average adult woman gamer plays 7.4 hours per week.
  • The average adult man gamer plays 7.6 hours. (These figures are probably very low.)
  • Almost 100 percent of gamers between ages twelve and seventeen have been playing since age two.
  • On average, these gamers have been playing for 9.5 years and gamers over the age of eighteen average twelve years of play.
  • The gaming industry "is poised to challenge the financial might of both the music and movie industries."

Rosen notes: "We have created video games, the new playgrounds of the self. And while we worry, with good reason, about having our identities stolen by others, we ignore the great irony of our own mass identity theft--our own high-tech ways of inventing and reinventing the protean self, wherein the line between reality and virtually reality ultimately erodes and disappears."