Are we becoming marginalised?

They say that where the US leads, Britain follows. As I’m unable to resist the obvious joke, this is particularly the case when it comes to oil-rich Arab states, but equally true of cultural norms and trends.

Research company the NPD Group revealed that 82% of kids in the US – kids being 2-17 year-olds – would describe themselves as ‘gamers’. Yes, that’s quite a lot. But this figure hides another: they’re actually spending less time playing compared with the previous year.

It appears that one of the factors that could be contributing to this cut in playing time is simply the range of options available to the little darlings. Yes, our cousins across the pond have so many wonderful things to do and see, they’re not giving their PC or console the love it deserves. Of course, it could also be something to do with Mom and Pop yelling at them to stop playing Call of Duty and get on with the freakin’ homework.

The media fragmentation phenomenon is, of course, one of the most remarkable manifestations of the digital era. For anyone who can remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where the gogglebox-watching Mike Teavee was presented as the epitome of the book-ignoring, short attention-spanned brat… well, how old-fashioned that all looks now. More books are being published than ever before. More magazines, more television, more terrible blockbuster movies, more games in all formats, more phones, more… stuff. Perhaps games, currently the bugbear of every soapboxing conservative and his performing monkey, are about to sink into the quagmire of media that surrounds us. Maybe they already have. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s inevitable. Or maybe, as a gamer, I’m just taking it more seriously than everyone else is.

Another little fact-ette before I go… apparently an amazing 14% of US households own a subscription to an online gaming service of one kind or another. That’s an awful lot of people. Certainly bodes well for Bioware’s Old Republic MMO coming soon to a PC near you.

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