Video Games’ clout surprises even experts

Video Games’ clout surprises even experts.
In the apartment below mine, Benjamin, a thirty-something decorated U.S. Army veteran, plays “Medal of Honor” online with his buddies every day. I kid you not. Benjamin is a paraplegic, wounded in the line of duty. He’s apparently quite good at the game. His “clan” is tough to beat. While many would argue that it’s just Benjamin’s way of being a soldier again, I would argue that there’s a lot more going on than that. It’s his life, a way he connects with the world. All of his friends are there, in those battle zones — people he may never meet in real life (what’s “real” anyway?) but with whom he shares a profound sense of duty, honor, self-sacrifice, skill and love. Benjamin’s one of the older guys in the mix, and he’s told me about his clan’s code of conduct, which includes respect of language and each other. Medal of Honor is much more than a game to my neighbor.

Knowing Benjamin, I’m not surprised at all by the findings of a study released today by Knowledge Networks/SRI and reported in MediaDailyNews. The report shows Video Games have emerged as the fourth most dominant medium, displacing print media and vying with other major electronic media in the lives of both young adult and teenage males.

The findings, which indicate that men 18–34 devote 6 percent and teenage males devote 15 percent of the time they spend with media each day to playing video games, may help explain the corresponding drop in TV viewing that has manifested among young males this year.

“We knew it was high, but we were surprised to learn that it was this high,” says Robert DeFelice, vice president-client service at Knowledge Networks/SRI.

The study only looked at Video Games through the use of game consoles, so my neighbor’s gaming isn’t counted. To me, that says the actual numbers of people using the Video Game medium is even higher. The point is that Video Games, for many people, are beyond games. Technology has allowed people to participate in life situations (adventures) they could have only imagined a few years ago, and in that sense, the industry contributes to the growth of Postmodernism. It’s the Age of Participation, and that’s exactly what these young people are doing through their consoles and the Internet.

This, of course, is having a significant impact on television viewing, as shown below. Benjamin tells me he has a TV, but it’s only for watching the news before and after his security job at one of the local malls. Video Games are a disruptive innovation clearly altering the media landscape and something the broadcast industry simply cannot ignore.

Shares Of Daily Time Spent With Media*

             Persons 12-64    Males 18-34    Males 12-17 
TV 51% 42% 45%
Radio 26% 28% 17%
Internet 14% 19% 16%
Video Games 3% 6% 15%
Newspapers 4% 3% 3%
Magazines 3% 2% 3%

Source: Knowledge Networks/SRI MultiMedia Mentor Fall 2003. *Percentage of time spent daily among the six media shown. Based on nationally representative telephone survey. The survey also measures daily use of Yellow Pages and cinema advertising, which are not reflected in the percentages above. (Courtesy MediaDailyNews)

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