The Pew Internet project, an initiative of the non-profit think-tank Pew Center today released the results of a nationwide U.S. survey on youth and gaming, called “Teens, Video Games, and Civics.” The authors interviewed over 1,000 youth. For those of us in the space, the broad conclusions are not surprising. The study found that 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games. But more detailed cuts of the data highlight some interesting facts:
For example, 65% of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them. Also, 27% play games with people who they connect with through the Internet. Clearly, gaming is increasingly becoming a social experience for youth, a way to transplant offline relationships online, or to form ones entirely.
Also, the survey found that the game play characteristics in which teens play games are correlated to their interest and engagement in civic and political activities. We’ve often talked about the importance of serious games, which serve some underlying purpose other than pure entertainment. The writers of the report, note,
“Longitudinal and quasi-experimental studies have identified a set of civic learning opportunities (such as simulations of civic or political activities, helping others, and debating ethical issues) that promote civic outcomes among youth. Many of these civic learning opportunities parallel particular elements of video game play.”
The offline-online dynamics of serious game play are fascinating in terms of thinking about games that we can build that reflect the real world, but that also carry meaning past the game itself, into the real world. This includes building context for kids and teens in important areas like political activism, charity, and social awareness.