Study: Virtually all teens play games

Pew research finds 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls aged 12-17 play games; racing and puzzle genres the most widely enjoyed.

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Every year, the Entertainment Software Association updates its industry facts and figures to underline just how widespread gaming is in the United States. According to this year's update, 65 percent of American households play games.

That number will likely skyrocket in the coming years if a newly released Pew Internet Project report is anything to go by. Researchers recently surveyed 1,102 teenagers and found that 97 percent of those aged 12-17 played video games in some form, with 99 percent of boys responding affirmatively, compared to 94 percent of girls. There are a lot of frequent players as well, as half of the respondents said they'd played games in the past day.

As one might expect, the tastes of those 97 percent of teens who game are wide-ranging. Racing games had the most widespread popularity of any genre, with 74 percent of teens admitting to playing them. The puzzle genre was close behind with 72 percent, followed by sports (68 percent), action (67 percent), and adventure (66 percent).

Interestingly, Rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were played by just 61 percent of respondents, only slightly higher than the strategy genre, which includes hardcore gaming staples like Starcraft and Command and Conquer. However, when asked for three favorite titles, the most commonly responded titles were (in order) Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution.

The least popular genres listed were survival horror (32 percent), massively multiplayer online games (21 percent), and virtual worlds like Second Life or Habbo Hotel (10 percent).

Pew also surveyed parents of teens to gauge their attitudes toward gaming, and found that most parents were actually ambivalent on gaming's impact on their kids. Some 62 percent of respondents said games didn't affect their kids, with 19 percent believing them to be a positive influence, and 13 percent considering them a negative influence. Just 5 percent of parents said gaming could be either positive or negative, depending on the game in question.

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