LiveWire went on-line this month to discover the ins and outs of interactive play. We found that kids are highly knowledgeable about specific game titles and characters. They are buying more games with their own money, and their ‘hall talk’ often includes the skinny on the hidden door in Zelda or speculation on the next version of Crash Bandicoot. Another interesting result was the similarity in responses from boys and girls, evidence that the interactive gaming market is overcoming stereotypes about gender preferences in play.
What we found:
Kids play an hour a day
Kids are hard-core gamers. More than half of our panel members of kids ages six to 12 started playing interactive games between the ages of four and six. On average, the boys tend to have started about a year younger than the girls. The majority of kids on our panel play video or computer games for about an hour each day of the week. The boys tend to play slightly more than the girls, averaging 7.6 hours a week, versus 6.5 hours for the girls.
The top three games with kids are Zelda (Nintendo 64), Crash Bandicoot (the original, Sony’s PlayStation) and Super Mario Brothers (Nintendo 64). Most kids say they like character-driven games the most, this preference fueled by a love for the primary character. Highest on the list of characters were Mario, Crash Bandicoot and Link (from Zelda).
Story lines and genre were also cited as important factors in choosing a favorite game. Our boys and girls agree that the best genre is action-adventure, followed by strategy, driving and flight simulation.
More than three-quarters of our panel request interactive games as gifts. Two-thirds have received video or computer games as gifts during the holidays, and one-third have received them as birthday presents.
Boys buy with their own cash
There are few differences in gaming trends between boys and girls. However, their answers did differ substantially when it came to spending their own money. More than half of the boys on our panel have laid down their own dollars for a new game, whereas only one-fifth of the girls have personally shelled out their pocket money for games.
Most kids named Wal-Mart as the primary store where they and their parents go to buy new games, followed by Toys `R’ Us and Best Buy. Two-thirds of the panel say they enter the store with no predetermined choice and spend time browsing the aisles to decide. However, about half of our respondents say they have both spread the word about favorite games and purchased a game based on the suggestion of a friend.
What kids said:
We wanted to know how parents regulate play time and what types of games kids are allowed to play. Although slightly less than one-third of the kids on the panel have no real restrictions, the majority of kids have a ‘homework rule,’ and are restricted from playing violent games.
‘I’m only allowed to play if I ask my mom and dad, after homework is done. I’m not allowed to play the violent fighting ones.’ Stephani, 10, Washington
‘We [he and a sibling] have to take turns playing, and if we play together, the first one who starts fighting gets grounded for two weeks and can’t play. We also have to have our homework done, and our limit is one hour. I’m not allowed to play Duke Nukem or anything that has to do with killing people.’ Dane, 11, Ohio
‘I can’t play until homework is done. There is this WWF game we got and my aunt hit the ceiling after she saw it. She said it was too violent, so we don’t get to play it anymore.’ Laura, 9, New Jersey
‘I have to have my chores done before I can play. I don’t even ask to buy the gruesome ones-I know better.’ Danielle, 11, Texas
‘I’m not allowed to play until my chores are done, my bedroom’s clean and my homework is done. I’m not allowed to play the evil or gory ones.’ Skyler, 9, Oregon
KidThink takes a look at what kids buy and do during the long,
hot days of summer.