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PC Games (Games)

PC The #1 Choice For Kids Gaming 60

Posted by Zonk
from the i-don't-recommend-using-them-for-farming-in-wow dept.
An NPD study entitled 'Kids and Gaming' has revealed that for the latest generation of gamers, games on the PC is their first taste of the hobby. Interestingly, kids seem to go through a sort of 'gaming life cycle', starting with kid-oriented systems (Leapster), with PC games picking up around six and console gaming beginning around ten. The study also confirmed something you probably already knew: more kids are gaming than ever before. "The study, which surveyed kids aged two to 17, said that more than one-third of children in the US are spending more time playing games than a year ago. Half of these kid gamers are 'light' users at five hours a week or less and the other half are 'medium, heavy or super users' who game six to 16 hours-plus per week. With the kids surveyed who play games online, an average of 39 percent of their time is spent playing games online versus offline. The majority of the kids (91 percent) play free online games."
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PC The #1 Choice For Kids Gaming

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  • This conflicts with my scientific studies of Xbox Live trash talk percentage in comparison with PC FPS's.
    • "The majority of the kids (91 percent) play free online games." I don't think they are talking about FPS games in this category.
      • by homer_ca (144738)
        They're talking about free MMORPGs like Flyff and Maple Story. My friends' kids just can't stop playing them.
    • by kiltyj (936758)
      Well, my study on Barrens chat...
    • by Wildclaw (15718)
      The idea that anonymous rude assholes in game chats are spoiled children is one of the worst stereotypes I have encountered on the internet.

      Age seems to have little to no relation to behavior as long as anonymity is involved. Of course, I havn't done have any real scientific research, so I could be mistaken, but I doubt it.
      • by pokerdad (1124121)

        The idea that anonymous rude assholes in game chats are spoiled children is one of the worst stereotypes I have encountered on the internet.

        I agree. As an avid online poker player, I can tell you that there are plenty of adults who are rude assholes during games.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:46AM (#21010379) Journal
    I think there are two factors at play here. The first, and most obvious, is that edutainment games are overwhelmingly based on the PS (although the PSP and DS both have a growing library). Most parents like to feel that their children are at least getting some educational value out of the games they play and edutainment games are often how they decide to introduce their children to the world of IT.

    The other, more complicated argument, probably revolves around pester-power. Almost all middle-class house-holds in the US/UK today contain a PC. These are generally low-end machines bought off-the-peg from a high-street store for a mix of home-office use and recreational web-browsing/e-mail. Consoles, despite having firmly entered the mainstream, remain less common, mainly because they are single-purpose machines and not everybody likes games.

    When children are still in the single-digit age-range, they're generally more likely to be satisfied with the fairly basic games you can play on a low-end PC. However, as they age, they and their peers become increasingly aware of what else is available in gaming terms and more aware of what they don't have. At this point, they also get better at pestering their parents and more likely to be able to make the case for big-ticket items such as games consoles finding their way onto Christmas lists and the like.

    Mind you, when I was 10-12ish, I was playing Gunship 2000, Eye of the Beholder, Microsoft Flight Simulator and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe on the PC. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd have the time or patience for the learning curve that games such as this involved today. Maybe some kids just develop... ah... sophisticated tastes early.
    • by archen (447353)
      Console games also just tend to be more complicated. Anecdote: My ex-wife's little brother is around 4 and of course wants to do whatever we were doing, including playing the PS2. Now for me it didn't seem like a big deal because I recall playing video games on a Nintendo a long time ago as well. But look at the old Nintendo controller - two buttons, select, start, and d-pad. Look at your typical PS2 controller - buttons everywhere, dpad, multiple joysticks. The other interesting thing was that he cou
      • by Sherloqq (577391)
        Based on my own kids, I think small children (pre-school age) have better imagination and look at the world holistically rather than dissecting objects into collections of smaller pieces making up a puzzle. Thus I think they are more likely to overlook certain details (or lack thereof), which might lead them to be more content with playing a game an older child might shun by being too analytical ("Oh, this game is stupid, the little monkey can jump from building to building, but can't jump from vine to vine
        • I agree that a game doesn't have to teach letters or words to be considered "educational". Other skills are just as important as, if not being outright prerequisites to, reading -- take pattern-matching for example. My 5-year-old is doing quite well recognizing the same words over and over in a book, and he rocks at MahJongg.

          By "MahJongg", do you mean the actual game of mahjong [wikipedia.org], or do you mean mahjong solitaire [wikipedia.org], the tile-matching game that has been distributed for computers under such names as "Shanghai", "Taipei", or "GunShy"? And has he tried other pattern-recognition games like Lockjaw Tetromino Game [pineight.com]?

          • by Sherloqq (577391)
            I stand corrected. It was a computerized version, so I guess "mahjong solitaire" would have been appropriate. As for the other one, I'll have to let my son give it a shot :) Thanks for pointing it out!

            On a sidenote, there was a period of a few months when I played tetris a lot. Several months after I stopped, I was asked to help someone move. While helping them load a U-Haul truck, I realized I was subconsciously approaching the task in the same way I did a game of tetris...
            • by tepples (727027)

              On a sidenote, there was a period of a few months when I played tetris a lot. Several months after I stopped, I was asked to help someone move. While helping them load a U-Haul truck, I realized I was subconsciously approaching the task in the same way I did a game of tetris...

              You're not the only one [mac.com]. I wonder what several months of Animal Crossing might do: make you want to shake all the trees in the park?

            • by Vexor (947598)
              I've worked at UPS and the comparison to Tetris is very accurate. If you work at UPS over Christmas time loading 6-7 full sized semi's (over the course of 3 hours) with you and one other guy is like Tetris at it's hardest.

              More on topic I've played pretty much the full spectrum of MMOs and about 50% of the under 16 kids I meet were either very nice and even fun to play with and the other 50% were complete idiots who earned a spot on my /ignore list. Note I'm not talking about newbness and the lack of skill

      • by Nicolay77 (258497)
        It surely depends on the game.

        I have a PS2-like logitech controller for my PC, and I can never find enough buttons on it for the controls of the game.
    • Sorry; Offtopic.

      Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe was a great game. I could't begin the hours I spent playing that as a kid.

    • Mind you, when I was 10-12ish, I was playing Gunship 2000, Eye of the Beholder, Microsoft Flight Simulator and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe on the PC.

      In my day we played Oregon Trail just for the hunting mini-game, and we were glad to get three turns in before dying of diphtheria.

    • by Criterion (51515)
      I tried to get my son to play the educational kids games when he was very young (preschool) both on the pc and a leappad. He wouldn't play them, he just couldn't get into them, and I certainly wasn't going to force him to do that (cruel and unusual punishment by any other name...). He started playing driving games on the Xbox at the tender age of 4, and some Halo (please, spare me the "bad parent exposing the child to violent games" rant, I won't bite, nor do I allow him to play any of my games which I DO c
  • Good (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The more kids that are gaming, the more legitimate an entertainment medium gaming will be in the future. As with other mediums before it.

    So long, of course, as the parents are monitoring their kids. I do; do you?
  • Not suprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nrich239 (790194)
    This story is not surprising for those of us still "growing up" (I'm a recent college grad) I started out with console gaming (NES) and moved to PC for some time while waiting to get enough money to buy the next console. And with parents buying things like LeapFrog, the next gen is starting even younger. I can't imagine how to get much more gaming time in than I already do (~4 hrs a night after work and countless on weekends)

    Idea for follow up story: "5yr old develops youngest case of carpal tunnel...."
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      Back then I wished I had an NES. All I had was a C64 and later a Gameboy. But judging by my ability to afford games the C64 with those 80 disks of warez included (was bought used) was probably the better choice. Those educational computers seemed cool to me at the time but realistically a C64 is superior and teaches much more useful things (like the QWERTY layout, English and BASIC along with binary, RAM address poking and ASCII codes) than just the spelling of "broom".
  • No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:48AM (#21010405) Homepage
    For ages 5 to 7, the PC is the only place you're going to get games. At that age, you're primarily looking for educational slower-paced games. While most games of that type on the PC are insufferably lame, that category of game is basically non-existent on consoles. Add to that the fact that parents of kids that age tend to have less money than they do when the kids are older (since people tend to both make more and get better at managing money as they age), and the fact that most people already own a computer even before they have kids, and it's easy to see why kids would be gaming on the family PC prior to any console.

    • "For ages 5 to 7... At that age, you're primarily looking for educational slower-paced games."

      At that age, your parents should still be making decisions for you. Hopefully they are looking for educational, slower paced games. You also have to factor in that at that age any game you do buy had better be durable or cheap.
    • by vux984 (928602)
      For ages 5 to 7, the PC is the only place you're going to get games.

      The PC has the widest library maybe, but the consoles feature better controls. My kids are actually in the 3-5 range, and right now, I'd say the best system for them is the Wii. And that's not a 'nintendo is for kids' thing, because they were far less successful on the cube. (They like Donkey Congo (with the bongoes), and Soul Calibur II (because even with just random button mashing your fighters are reasonably effective). But overall the c
    • I started out on consoles and there were plenty of slower paced games. The NES had a few things. My 3 year old son has two games for the PS2 that are both educational and run at his speed. I haven't had the time to find him any more because he's pretty much satisfied playing the handful of games that he does have. Some of the faster paced ones are good for him to learn hand-eye coordination.

      I'm trying to keep my son off the PC for obvious reasons. I don't want him learning the "Windows" way of doing
  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#21010459) Homepage Journal

    An NPD study entitled 'Kids and Gaming' has revealed that for the latest generation of gamers, games on the PC is their first taste of the hobby.
    And yet, to call the PC games sections of stores like GameStop and EBGames "anemic" is an understatement. What gives?
    • likely because they factor in "Edugaming" which is a multi-million dollar industry but would likely never be considered REAL gaming by most of us. I suspect if they split the study up to account for gaming, and edugaming as two different things, that there would be a massive shift toward more system gamers than PC gamers.
    • you could always try shopping at pirate bay
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dracil (732975)
      It's largely a self-fulfilling prophecy. When they devote all their resources to promoting consoles and ignoring PC games, is it any wonder that people don't buy as much PC games at their stores? And then they wonder why PC games sell like crap, and thus do even less for PC games.
      • by maxume (22995)
        This paints an awfully lazy picture of PC gamers.
        • by Dracil (732975)
          Why would people shop at a store that doesn't have a reliable stock of games when they can get it much more reliably online or, ironically, at a non-gaming specialty store?
          • by maxume (22995)
            Right, but why would a store look at its PC games sales in isolation from the rest of the market...if gamers are going elsewhere to pick up the latest titles(which they probably are if they aren't impossibly lazy), the stores will eventually notice and start stocking more games, etc.
            • by Dracil (732975)
              Except there's already the mentality that PC games don't sell, so stores don't stock PC games, so PC gamers don't go to stores. It's not PC gamers that are lazy, it's game stores that are lazy. PC gamers just go to the non-gaming specialty stores and get their games there, because the non-specialty stores are also not lazy.
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:19AM (#21010939)
      Because they tend to make their money off of trading in games, which you can't do effectively on the pc due to piracy concerns. Since they can't get trade ins for pc games, and since they don't have the scale that wal mart does, they can't sell the games for a decent price. I can't imagine buying a pc game at a console game shop simply because the prices are so high.
    • And yet, to call the PC games sections of stores like GameStop and EBGames "anemic" is an understatement. What gives?

      Internationally, PC sales are better than in the US. Also online sales are beginning to be a large percentage of PC sales. Bookworm Adventures and Puzzle Pirates are two examples I've enjoyed.
  • Video Games != Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hal2814 (725639) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:01AM (#21010635)
    It does annoy me greatly when these two are written interchangeably. My daughter is in the 2-6 age group and has a Leapster that is gathering dust. She plays plenty of games but not video games. She loves soccer, Candy Land, and Sorry. All kids play games of some sort. The kids in the survey are playing video games more. I'd be interested to see what they stopped doing to spend more time on the PC playing video games. I'd wager it most of them gave up time from some sort of non-video game.
  • This study is definitely not breaking new ground. Most kids past toddler are using computers for internet access (just look at all the kid websites that are mentioned during cartoons these days).

    Did people think that most kids get introduced to gaming via a PS3?
  • I remember the good old days where you only had a NES and you were happy. Hell i'll still play the NES(emulator). But I personally enjoy PC games more than console games because I am a WoW addict, but now I am recovering with Portal\HL-E2.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546)
    To be honest, I've always believed if Nintendo and others truly wanted to appeal to casual gamers they'd be developing games for the PC. Perhaps not so much in Japan, but certainly elsewhere in Asia, the US and Europe.

    PCs are so pervasive that it makes the barrier of entry into gaming quite low. I've known countless people with no interest in gaming whatsoever by intrigued by some game they've found online. The important thing is to make system requirements anywhere as demanding as they are for most mainstr
    • by tepples (727027)

      It sure would be nice if Nintendo produced a USB version of the Wii controller.
      Some Bluetooth receivers can receive Wii Remote signals.
  • "Why honey, of course you can play *these* games; they're educational!"

    "Well... I don't know what this 'Quake' is, but I guess maybe it'll give you more experience with computers or something... just stop bugging me about it."

    "You want a video game console? Fine, whatever, just don't burn the house down. Mommy needs a nap."
  • It's a hell of a lot harder to get "free" games for your Playstation, Xbox, or Wii. With a computer, all you have to do is download an iso and a crack, then you're set.
    • by tepples (727027)

      It's a hell of a lot harder to get "free" games for your Playstation, Xbox, or Wii. With a computer, all you have to do is download an iso and a crack, then you're set.
      Likewise with the Nintendo DS: once you buy the R4 adapter and a microSD card, you're all set to run a large library of freeware developed by hobbyists.
  • I have a 5, 7 and 9 year old. The free internet games they play include games found at nick.com, cartoonnetwork.com, pbskids.com, popcap.com and neopets.com among others. Usually we have a waiting list to use the computer. All the sites feature free webgames. Often these three help the two year old play elmo and blues clues games. Many of the games they play are educational. Also, given the technology driven society we live in, there is an inherent educational value found in being introduced to computers at
  • Speaking of PC games for kids.

    What would you recommend for light playing (about 5 hours/week) for elementary-school children?
    • by mark99 (459508)
      Neopets. My kids loved it. Very cute - but it is an online game.

      Ads don't start on it until they are like 13 or so. They make a lot of money off merchandising.
    • by J_Omega (709711)

      Go.

      Seriously. I suggest it for anyone/everyone for multiple reasons.

      For a quick read on why a child should learn the game:
      http://users.eniinternet.com/bradleym/ChildGo.html [eniinternet.com]

      Go will make them think on multiple "levels" using both right and left brain.
      Go teaches pattern recognition and spatial skills.
      Go is scalable down to reasonable sizes (smaller boards) for children.
      Go can be taught to a 5yo in an afternoon. (takes a lifetime to master)
      Go is played online by people from around the world. (Expo
  • Two things (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mdarksbane (587589)
    1) PC's are more ubiquitous than consoles. A family with no older children is likely to not have a console for themselves, but will have a PC (note that this likely won't be a proper "gaming" PC, but edutainment games generally don't take much to run).

    2) PC's are still easier to develop for. Every programmer has experience on them, the SDK's are generally free or at least relatively cheap, and your test hardware can be anything from your own dev machine to the old dell your girlfriend used to use. Edutainme

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