January 26, 2001

It is no secret that the correlation between teenagers and videogame usage is high. In fact, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 84 percent of teens surveyed between the ages of 12-17 have a videogame console in their home, with 58 percent playing for at least one hour per week. But what is the connection between these kids and their games? The results of the CEA study explore teens’ videogame habits, including the number of years they have been playing, with whom they play and how they learn about new games, as well as videogame system characteristics and interest in other entertainment activities via a videogame console.

According to the study, few teen videogamers are new to the activity. In fact, only 1 percent has begun playing within the past year. Instead, many are veteran gamers, with two-thirds having played for at least 5 years. However, despite the length of time they have been playing, many teen gamers (45 percent) consider themselves to be casual players, stating that they play only when they don’t have anything else to do. Only 19 percent of players stated that they play on a regular basis. In this regard, males were more likely to categorize themselves as regular players, whereas females were more likely to view videogames as a social activity.

The usage of video games as a social activity is another way in which gamers distinguish themselves. For the most part, gaming is not a solitary activity. Although 8 percent of teens always play by themselves, a majority plays with friends and family to at least some extent. More than half (57 percent) spend at least the same amount of time playing with others as playing alone. On the other hand, 35 percent of teens play less frequently with others, instead playing their games mostly themselves.

Teens also have a strong interest in using their console for more than just gaming. In fact, the presence of additional entertainment features could have a strong impact on a future purchase decision. The capability to view DVD movies is the most appealing of these features to teens, potentially impacting nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of decisions. In addition, females are more likely than males to be swayed by such features, including Internet access, e-mail and audio CD capabilities.

Todd Thibodeaux, senior economist and vice president of market research for CEA, commented ”Teens are generally a very tech savvy segment of consumers. They are an ideal market for the emerging category of convergence products that gaming consoles can provide by combining a variety of functionality into a single unit.”

How do teens get access to these games? Most teens receive their gaming consoles from others, with two out of three of current systems given to teens as a gift for a special occasion, such as a holiday or birthday. Only a small number of teens purchased their systems using all of their own money. And, most teens believe that their current videogame system will not be their last. Instead, nearly all expect to purchase or receive a new videogame system at some point in the future. Thirty-three percent anticipate getting a new system within the next six months, while only 16 percent believe it will be longer than two years.

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