A new national survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project illustrates just how ingrained games have become in youth culture. The survey found that while young Americans don't necessarily play the same thing, nearly all of them -- girls included -- play video games of one kind or another. And they don't just play by themselves. Nearly two-thirds play video games to socialize face-to-face with friends and family, while just over a quarter said they play with Internet friends. Among other things, the survey found that:
-- Ninety-seven percent of young respondents play video games. That's 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls, with little difference in the percentages among various racial and ethnic groups and incomes. In fact, 7 percent of those surveyed said they didn't have a computer at home, but did have a game console, such as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox or Nintendo Co.'s Wii.
-- They play often. When surveyed, half of the respondents said they had played a video game the previous day.
-- Their games of choice are as diverse as their tastes in music or TV. Eighty percent of respondents play five or more different game genres, with racing, puzzles, sports and action the most common. Favorites were "Guitar Hero," "Halo 3," "Madden NFL," solitaire and "Dance Dance Revolution."
-- Young people are routinely able to get their hands on games that are rated "M" (for mature) or "AO" (adults only). Three-quarters of parents who were surveyed said they "always" or "sometimes" check the ratings on their kids' games. And yet, half of boys who were questioned listed a game with an "M" or "AO" rating as one of their favorites, compared with 14 percent of girls.