Britain is turning into a nation of gamers, research by the UK games industry trade body suggests.
The Pokémon game became a worldwide phenomenon
A study by the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association says that soon more people could be playing games than watching TV.
The video game industry has been trying to attract a more diverse audience in recent years, scoring successes with games like The Sims, where you take control of a family's life.
Companies such as Microsoft and Sony also hope that broadband internet connections will allow players all over the world to compete against one another.
Are we playing more video games, or are they still a minority interest? What do you think of the price of games? Will broadband gaming take off?
This debate is now closed.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we received:
I personally find video games relaxing and a way of getting rid of stress. I have a three year old daughter and when she grows up I would prefer her to play video games than be out on the streets getting into all sorts of trouble.
I have played online games for 5 years now, and am about to give it up at last since I am going to uni. My three younger brothers and I play together in a clan and have a lot of fun co-operating together, discussing tactics and I've even been known to scribble on paper to prepare formations and strategies. It really brings the family together (except that poor old mum is left in front of the TV alone!) You learn how to deal with yours and others mistakes, and a range of emotion - excitement, joy, anger, frustration, pride (jealousy even!) Which I feel is better for the soul than watching Pam dump Steve.
Mike Parker, Cambridge, England
What many people fail to realise is that playing a computer game is one of the few mentally stimulating sedentary activities people do for fun. With TV, you just end up gawping at the screen and with books, you often skim over the content; not so with computer games.
Graeme Phillips, Germany, normally UK
No, but often a Play Station game is cheaper than a night out on the town and lasts longer, doesn't give you a hangover or a furry tongue.
Online games are more potent than television: they provide opportunity for individual expression (to release frustrated interpersonal impulses). Games are more potent than chat rooms: they have the same benefit of communication, but also provide an ongoing mutual project to rely on when conversation does not have satisfying potential, in addition to bonding people and sharpening their justification for rivalry with opposing teams. Games are more potent than drugs: they provide a more concrete experience, are clearer in their connections to reality for recall and future planning (regarding the release of frustrated interpersonal impulses).
I'm a 51 year-old woman who finds games a lot of fun but, unfortunately, the market is dominated by shoot-em-ups aimed at pubescent boys. The world would be a better place with a few more games like 'Myst' or 'Riven' which are graphically excellent and intellectually .
Jane C, UK
I work in the games industry as an artist, and I'm always amused when the media ask naive questions like "Are we becoming addicted to videogames?". It's been the same rhetoric for decades, and it highlights the lack of understanding most people have about computer games, having probably never played one themselves. In short, people are not becoming addicted to computer games, just as people didn't become addicted to television. Lets stop this paranoid and negative disdain for what is now one of the biggest and best industries the UK has ever produced, and start acknowledging how great this nation is as games-players and games-makers.
Peter, Liverpool, UK
I was put of the whole idea of gaming when, shortly after I bought a Nintendo 64, it became obsolete. Just like that. They introduced their latest model and then overnight I couldn't buy games for my machine any more. I'm certainly not going to buy a new console if that is how the games manufacturers treat their customers.
I like games. I like to play them and I like to talk about them. I like to think about ideas I would like to see developed (or may develop myself one day).
I find that gaming keeps my brain active in a way that films or books never could. I still enjoy watching films and reading books, but I also enjoy games for the mental stimulation they offer.
I'm a self-confessed geek. I work in a software department, and what's worse, I enjoy it. But that doesn't mean that you have to be a geek to play games. That's just a misconception that people have.
Nor does enjoying games mean that you have to spend all day indoors afraid of the sunlight, in the same way that you can enjoy films without watching them 24 hours a day.
Slightly out of context but I think the idea that games are played by teenagers locked in their own bedrooms is wide of the mark. It's now an accepted part of our society. In the same way that computer and the internet have become a major of most peoples lives one way or another. The increasing virtualisation of our world is happening all around us and increasing to the point where it would be more desirable to live in the fantasy world you've always dreamed of than the real world you exist in. It's just taking our dreams and desires and allowing us to live through them, in the same way that theatre, movies, television radio and books do already. It seems odd that in my own city we now have more massive bookshops then i can remember as a child so the idea that no one reads anymore is not true. With the world being such a hostile place these days who wouldn't rather live in a world where they can be what they want to be?
I'm no geek, but I like my computer games. Problem is that newer games become harder and harder and therefore less and less playable to non-anoraks.
A classic example is racing games which are now so intent on giving you an accurate feeling of what it's like to be Colin McRae or Michael Schumacher that when you get on the track they are boring as hell to play if you just want a "strap in and drive" feel-good, fun experience.
I guess that's the problem with "Licensed" games that the Licensee wants to ensure that their brand is strengthened yet all the whistles and bells come at the cost of genuine fun-to-play games.
I have never been a fan of or interested in video games and personally find this kind of pastime boring. Time could be better spent doing things that develop you such as further studies, reading the newspapers, becoming involved in local issues or voluntary work. Getting involved in real issues going on around you is more beneficial than playing brain-dead games.
I am a dedicated broadband gamer with several online "clans". I am disabled and cannot hope to ever achieve things in real life like I can in games so I play and love it. Where else can you be transported to fantastic realms of the imagination albeit of a polygon nature? God, king, hero, bad guy. You can be what ever you want to be for a few hours with like minded online gamers. Rock on and keep it coming!
I am old enough to remember the same type of questions being aimed at television and presumably at radio before that. It was argued that children were becoming unfit couch potatoes, that reading standards were dropping and social skills were being eroded. At least with many PC and video games a certain amount of problem solving and strategy are involved together with hand-eye co-ordination skills. Networked games do bring people together in a new way and many share tips and other information via the Internet and e-mail encouraging both reading and writing skills. Simulation games such as flight Sims can encourage an interest in the trying the real thing. Roll on the Star Trek Holo-decks I say!
No, playing games is not "just for geeks". In fact real geeks (I am one) don't touch the mass-market games, preferring to do something creative and less boring instead (like writing games for the mass "I wanna shoot something" crowd). I have, occasionally when very bored or waiting for a long compilation, played 'Solitaire' or 'Minesweeper', but I would much rather be writing an interesting program.
Chris C, England
I play games because they allow me freedom - freedom to play what I want, when I want, how I want. Compare this to television, where the schedule is set by somebody else and the programming is linear. I also read books, although they are linear at least you can choose what book and when to read it. Films are good too, but I don't go to the cinema anymore, I buy a DVD and watch it at home on a home theatre setup. Once this freedom has been enjoyed, it is hard to go back to entertainment where you are not in charge.
Steve Ward, UK
Does no one read books anymore?
When I get a really good game, I can find it hard to put down. Like a good book, you want to move on the next bit to see what happens. For those people who criticise me for spending four hours an evening playing it, well what did they do that was so life changing? Watch a string of soap operas and reality TV programmes probably. Oh yeah, I'm really wasting my time aren't I?
I believe the country is addicted to games but what's wrong with it? If someone was addicted to reading people wouldn't have a problem with it! Why? because the people who complain are scared of technology, they don't understand it and while they'd rather have their children play mind numbing sports their children are begging for intellectual stimulation, huge communities known as clans have already formed, I would not say that these people don't socialise and get along just like they would playing football, ignorance is the only enemy of games (and high prices) and the country has far too much of it.
I first played Doom on a standalone computer which was connected to another using big fat cables and the other day I played a friend over a nokia 7650... what's not to love.
The best games are always extremely addictive. Until recently I worked as a games programmer and was reminded more than once, cycling home after a night spent in the office playing BF1942, of the old line from Scarface, advising drug dealers never to touch their own product.
Computer games are fun, interactive, and the better ones make you think. And if you get bored with what you've got the best ones let you create your own content. The best thing about the games I play is the community that comes with them. I've been playing Unreal Tournament (shame UT2003 plays so badly) since it was released and with free voice over IP programs (like Teamspeak) I get to talk to my friends for nothing but the cost of my broadband connection. The games I play require as much team effort as they do single player effort. I haven't watched any TV for a long time. There's nothing on that I want to watch. Games are more fun than TV.
I think that we are more a nation addicted to telling other people how to run their lives, rather than being a nation addicted to video games. If someone wants to play video games all day, and if that makes them a boring so and so, what business is it of anyone else? Could it be that in this country we all have such boring and miserable existences that the only way we get any pleasure is by criticising the things other people do? Why not do what you like and let others do what they like? How's that for a change?
Simon Moore, EU
I grew up working in the computer industry starting in 1977. I have always had a fascination for games. This has grown with me and now I spend the majority of my sitting down leisure time playing them - 10-20 hrs per week at a guess. I may watch no TV at all for weeks In fact the TV has become a kind of console itself, purely used for watching DVD's and Video's.
Recently I have discovered on line gaming in the form of Sony's Everquest, and this has opened up a whole new playing environment and experience for me. I like this game especially for the social interaction and the challenging environment, without all of the unnecessary violence of some games. I have teenage kids and they have grown up knowing about games through me. They both play, but neither have gotten to the stage where it takes over their lives, they still socialise more with their friends outside of the home. Personally I am very pleased that computers have found this use and it is expanding.
I play all kinds of games on my PC. I do not play games all the time though. I engage in a lot of activities, one of which is watching TV. However, time spent watching TV is diminishing rapidly, as the quality of the programmes goes down. It's all moronic 'Reality shows'. I think these shows must appeal to people who have had frontal lobotomies. The time subtracted from TV gazing will probably be added to gaming! Oh, and well done to the 'MYST' team!!
For the whole year last year I only played games on Sunday morning for three hours in order to see a friend from the other part of the world. I have to say On-line game as an interface is better then telephone, e-mail combined and almost as good as getting a pizza together.
I'm not addicted, when I get stuck on a game I usually give up and come back a day to two later. Most games are good value for money, and most shops let you return them if you decide it's not your thing. The high price is because the console makers need to recoup the costs of selling the console at such a loss! That's why PC versions are often ?10 cheaper than their console counterparts. I'd rather get the hardware cheap, and "pay as I go" to play more games. I must have had many solid days of entertainment from GTA Vice City since I bought it nine months ago, and I still play it to this day! That was ?40 well spent, without a doubt.
I believe that we already are, perhaps even 6-7 out 10 of us. The health of youngsters is deteriorating at an alarming speed as weight gain becomes an issue. With the easy access to on-line games and the general stress in society, making it more difficult for parents to say no, the kids just don't get out as much as before. Children are suffering immensely from obesity at an early age due to the fact that they don't go out to play and that's just in Sweden. Can you imagine your own children in say, ten years from now?
K Wikman, Sweden
I remember as a child (I am now 40) that there was a big out cry that children of my generation were watching too much television. At the time TV was the big evil now it is computer games. Have we not been there before? I would rather my daughter play games with her friends than watch the mindless pap that is pumped out on TV time after time as if people have the attention span of a gold fish.
Alex B, Scotland
I am in my late 50s and love playing games, especially on my computer. I am currently addicted to Runescape which is an online game. I talk to people all over the world and television now has to earn my viewing time - current programming just doesn't match up.
Good luck to all those people that choose to spend most of their free time glued to some screen and living in a dream of escapism - how about they wake up and make a positive contribution to this wounded world.
When I played my first computer game in 1982 I thought there might be something to this new format. Sadly, 21 years later, the gaming industry has advanced barely a jot. Graphics are better, but still inadequate, story lines are as vapid as ever. Adding an online element is a slight step forward, but until we get games designers with an ounce of imagination I can't see any point in the entire industry.
Andy K, UK
To Sharam, UK: I play games in the evening, which I enjoy greatly. During the day I 'wake up' and work for an International Development charity. Despite my gaming, I think I'm making a positive contribution to this 'wounded world' - what have you done to help recently? And has Andy K even looked at the innovations in gaming these days? It's not all First Person shooters, you know!
Funny that you include a picture of Pikachu (from Pokemon) in your article - with all this talk of video games, I'm reminded of games that I've continued playing through Sega Genesis, Playstation, PC and XBox, that being good old Dungeons and Dragons. In the old days the public frowned on such things and it amuses me that now games like Doom III and Resident Evil contain themes that far surpass what most consider 'kiddie-friendly'.
I've spent this whole past weekend playing on my XBox, but I still look forward to an evening with my friends around a table socialising and playing D&D or Magic the Gathering. I think that constitutes a decent balance in the life of a modern gamer. Oh, one final thing for gamers to bear in mind - always remember to eat. There have been two worrying reports of teenagers dying after spending days playing the incredibly fun and addictive 'Diablo II', because they've neglected to eat.
I have an 11 year old son and he refuses to go out and play with his friends because there is no "fun" to be had. He prefers to stay indoors and play games on the PC rather than mixing with friends and enjoying life. I believe that most kids his age do the same. Where is all this going to stop? I am going to restrict the use of my computer to two hours a day; and the rest of the time...swimming and walking are a good alternative.
Carlos Hernandez, Spain/England
I think games these days are an excellent form of entertainment, on the PC. However, the companies charge too much for their work and must bring the price down. This is why people download games, because they are too expensive. If they were cut by a half, then less people would download. One day, I saw a small child blow all of his birthday money on one game, how sad is that?
Television programming has become so poor here in the last couple of years. Carbon copy dramas, cookie cutter sitcoms, and a whole host of bad reality shows. I for one am turning more and more to the video game addiction I have nurtured over the last 20 years. Who cares who your dad marries, or what you'll do for love or money? Give me GTA, Quake, or Tetris over what the networks tell us is quality programming.
I disagree with the opinion that video games make someone antisocial, in contrary you get the most of fun playing with your friends. The only feature to fear is that we don't know the impact of video games to our personality. Being one of the first gamers in my country at early age, I can't forget my first heroes (sonic,mario,zelda ect) even if I have stopped playing video games for some years. Surely someone becomes an addict of these games but I can't say whether this is a good or bad thing.
The price of video games? Unhealthy children and now adults behaving like children, not being able to develop communication and social skills, not having any interaction with real humans, living a fantasy life where they control everything, rather than facing a real one where not everything always goes acording to plan. The same goes for TV.
I'm only 15. Games are like films, some are good and some are bad. There are also different types.
However, I think the price of games is too much, they seem to have gone up from being around 30 quid for a new game. Now they are about £40 - 45.
And broadband WILL take off, in fact it has. Just look at Xbox and Xbox Live.
Games can be very entertaining but, like films, the industry is hard pushed to come up with innovative ideas. Lots of games fall way short of the quality you'd expect for the money. The ethos seems to be set towards extracting as much money from Joe Public, as possible and it isolates people who cannot afford them. Technology is pretty good now, and can only improve. However large corporates will always give us the bare minimum formulated rubbish and it won't be cheap.
When I sit and stare at an episode of Only Fools And Horses, or some other overly repeated programme, I can't help feeling that, yes, more and more people will turn to gaming as a form of interactive entertainment, and this will be helped along considerably by the lack of innovative, original programming. It's just a pity that to own an essential piece of gaming equipment, namely a television, one has to pay a licence fee for the pleasure.
I've been playing games for 20 years now and they just keep getting better. There's nothing else to beat the immersion inherent in a product you can watch, listen to and control - TV doesn't even come close! I'm a 30 year-old GBA Pokemon player, and proud of it!
As the first generation to grow up with games consoles and home computers gains more influence and affluence their choice of entertainment will invariably include some gaming elements. The increase in power and functionality in modern consoles has also helped to make them more acceptable (when the PS2 was introduced, the DVD playback facility and the keen price point made a PS2 cheaper than many DVD players...).
There has also been a steady broadening of the gaming genres with titles now available to appeal to most groups of people.
Video games are continuing to go from strength to strength. You only have to look at the gaming revolution making its way onto mobile phones to see its impact. My guess is it will not be too long before multiplayer games become available on mobiles. Then, sales will rocket. Playing multiplayer games anywhere? How can you beat that?
Steve C, UK
I only watch 2 hours of TV a week, if any at all. However, I can spend hours playing RPGs on my PS2. I don't think it's as antisocial as some people make it out to be, though. I trade games, guides and tips with my friends and often we watch each other play or play together. Playing video games requires more thought than watching TV passively.
Games are already more popular than TV in my home, and have been for some years.
I have to admit that even after being an avid gamer and games developer for the last 20 years, I have noticed my interest wane. I feel it is increasingly difficult to value an entertainment form that is currently frivolous fun. When has a game ever provoked serious contemplation outside of its own domain? The latest poorly implemented attempts seen at the ICA or on the web seem more focused on style and retro aesthetics than a value adding agenda.
John M, UK
Hello, my name is Mousie....and I am an addict.
I love Doom, and Wolfenstien, and can happily play for hours. Living on a farm doesn't make for a lot of free time. After brain surgeries, and having survived a stroke, comas lasting over 4 months each time, and generally not having a wonderful time of it, I enjoy the games. They help retrain my coordination, and response time. I can name the enemies after the doctors who dumped me, or nearly killed me. Blowing things up, or away helps with my stress levels. Why do they label people so much? We are all different, we all handle things differently. It's just for fun, it is just escapism, it is not threatening, or bad.
Elydia Zavala, USA
Professionally, I'm a software engineer and I also maintain a computer network in my house and manage several websites, so I have good geek credentials.
But I don't play videogames OR watch TV. I paint, I write poetry, and I do studio figure, dance, and still-life photography for enjoyment. It's more fun to create something new than simply consume someone else's creative ideas.
I think games programmers are missing a huge trick by not thinking about the female audience. Since most games programmers are men, that's not surprising and fair enough really, but the industry is not even marketing really to 50% of the population. Personally, I like playing problem solving/interactive games, but just cannot be bothered with driving games. Come on boys - make some more games for me!
If the latest results are anything to go by, women are quite happy with what they get and make up a larger slice of the market than teenage boys... I think games are quite reasonably priced, you're no longer buying a cassette tape, in many cases it's a DVD packed full of stuff, which will take an average of 20-30 hours to play through. Compare this to paying 10 quid to go to the cinema for two hours and think you're getting a very good deal. Gaming at its best is also a truly involving and personal experience; my first time through Halo was breathtaking...
As a professional in my late 20s I have the money to indulge myself in about three games a month which have almost totally replaced TV apart from watching the occasional comedy show or DVD with my girlfriend. I don't game to excess, but have merely moved what time I might have been watching weak TV shows into playing challenging strategy games such as SimCity, Uplink, Capitalism 2, Vice City, etc. In fact it's become a much more social thing too since my friends and I often have parties across the net (so much better playing against humans than the Artificial Intelligences). Those people who sit back and just absorb the reality TV shows and soap operas are something that we should really worry more about!
I play online counter strike (shoot em up against 20 other players) mainly and spend more time playing this than watching television because its good fun and interactive. Over a million people play on the UK servers each and every night - this is just a drop in the ocean to the true no.
Sam Wither, England
I don't think we are game addicts, as I don't think such a thing exists. You don't get called an addict for playing sports or board games so why video games? Video games are more social than ever before. The fact that the nation has embraced them is a good and healthy thing, not some sinister addiction!
Please stop complaining about the price of games in the UK. I work in games development and can testify to the phenomenal cost of game production. A staff of 30+ highly skilled professionals working on a single title for 3 years costs millions. Add to this overheads, manufacturing and marketing costs and then off-set those against the income from average sales of 200,000 and you'll realise that most of the time we're happy to break even. Games like GTA Vice City are the exception, not the norm, so £39 on a console game is actually quite reasonable. The only reason why games are cheaper in the US and Japan is because they are guaranteed much higher sales figures than in the UK - so buy more games and get more for your money!
A DVD of a movie costs up to £20 and plays for two hours. For around £40, you get a computer game that can provide entertainment for many, many hours. Many games feature the same characters as popular films, and the interactive nature of games makes them a more rewarding experience. Games might not replace TV, but they will give the box office a hard time.
I usually have no choice but to play computer games over watching TV, as my girlfriend will insist on watching every single Big Brother, Pop Idol, Pathetic ITV drama, and DIY programme that happens to be on. This is not a situation that I'm unhappy with, but as most games are quite addictive I sometimes find myself getting to bed around 2AM, leaving me tired at work the next day.
Why the negative use of the word "addicts"? Many people spend their whole evenings watching television in a comatose, non-thinking state. Is that not a real "addictive" problem?
John Kirriemuir, Lochwinnoch, Scotland
Online gaming has now taken off as the entertainment of choice for me personally. TV lacks the interactivity of online games, if I just sit watching TV program for longer than maybe an hour at most I get bored, maybe my attention span is getting shorter, but on the other hand I'm able to play games for longer without getting bored, there is always something happening in an online game and if you don't like what you are doing you can change it, the best I can do with TV is change the channel.
I was so shocked the other evening while watching TV (I don't watch I lot though!). There was an advert for a video game and a young child went round to his friend's house and tried to get him to come and play outside, but the friend was hooked on the video game (I'm surprised there were no wires connecting his brain to the actual system to be honest). I thought this was dreadful! No wonder we are turning into a bunch of morons! For goodness sake, go outside!
Most games are frankly pointless, but the few good ones really make up for it. The grand theft auto games are excellent examples - genuine fun, with the freedom to do what you want at any time - none of the claustrophobic sense of being herded from one place to the next, and no getting stuck at a point where you have to complete an impossible challenge in order to do anything new (something that makes many games seem more like work than fun). Brings back memories of Elite and Mercenary. Far better that watching another miserable soap or pointless quiz show.
I've just cancelled my satellite subscription completely as I found I was watching TV for only 10 minutes a day, playing online computer games such as Everquest for in excess of six hours a day!
I am an avid, online gamer, and with chatting to most others online the age range surprised me. The average age is around 20-23ish but I have chatted and gamed with people from all over the world from 12 to over 40 years old. I think its great to have such a range of people playing together. Be careful though as online games can suck you in, its easy to get addicted to them.
We are definitely playing more video games these days. i grew up with gaming through the days of the ZX spectrum and at the time gaming was very much a pastime for children. It was not until Sony came along that the gaming became more acceptable for people over 21. although gaming is spreading out as companies have realised that marketing to an age bracket with more disposable income makes good sense it seems unlikely gaming will ever become as popular as television as there is still a stigma of being a little bid sad attached to games playing by most.
Bradley Stott, UK
Can this not also mean that less people are watching TV, rather than more people are playing video games?
I was a kid of the Sonic/Mario generation. Being 21 and still at uni, my disposable income is minimal. But when in full time employment i would guess my buying habits would change from 2-3 games a year to as much as 6-10. And there are many others like me. I predict a boom in the industry in coming years, especially with new technology on the horizon.
And Sony has done a great job of making gaming 'cooler' but I'd still much rather prefer to go to HMV than the stereotypical specialist game shop.
As an interested parent, who occasionally enjoys a virtual race around Monaco or Silverstone, I am not surprised by these statistics. My two teenagers enjoy a variety of games on the PC and net. But this interest is balanced by them also enjoying real sports and activities as well as television. Its a great additional alternative to fill our leisure time with, not the only activity. The prices are high initially, but as with almost every other market, buy carefully, ignore the hype, and you can have great fun for a tenner.
I watch around 3 hrs of TV a week compared to 20+ hours playing computer games. The quality of graphics and improved storylines in games make them much more enjoyable than the same tired plot lines trotted out in dramas and the soul-numbing banality of 'reality' TV. Give me a game like Vice City over TV any day!
James, London, UK
Gaming became a mass appeal pastime as soon as people realised how much better they were at games after a few pints with a few mates. It can be more engrossing than a movie and on a rainy day the second most fun thing a group of people can play at. The key is to make sure that kids don't play in their rooms on their own.
Iain Farrell, Scotland, Glasgow
Just where do people find the time to play video-games? If you've got a business to run, a home, a family and some friends - there's just never enough time to sit still and play games. About the only time I really get to myself is when I'm travelling to/from work, and the outside lane of the M4 at 7AM isn't a place to think about gaming.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia
In my opinion video games are better for you than TV - they are interactive and encourage the user to exercise their mind. Although traditional console style games are quite insular, the newer online games encourage people to interact with each other and players can very quickly become part of a virtual community. Whilst this is no substitute for contact with "real" people, at least it's one step from staring at the goggle box all night.
Alison, Leeds, UK
Myself and my fiancée both play video games and have a large selection of consoles. But we find that, despite it's rising popularity, companies are still aiming more towards the child market than the adult market that actually buys them. The games themselves are generally priced too high, and many are bad quality too. As for broadband gaming, it won't take off as well as big companies hope, because less than a quarter of people can afford broadband, and less than a quarter of those will want to do online gaming. Long live Nintendo.
A year ago I would not have qualified myself a keen gamer. However the quality of the games has in my eyes dramatically improved, particularly with the explosion on online gaming, while at the same time the appeal of evening programming on the main channels has reached an all-time low. I simply can not stay attracted to 'cooking/gardening/DIY/cheap-reality-show' programs endlessly and there is simply nothing to watch. It is almost as if the TV industry is pushing the people to do something else. I turned to gaming.
What's the problem. Many so called video games are very intellectually challenging and teach kids to problem solve in a methodical way. Did another survey not show that gamers were more adept at problem solving than other young people?
With the internet, games and gaming communities, also provide an alternative world were people of old ages can team up, regardless of race, religion and creed to battle imaginary enemies. Again, what is the problem.
I think we ARE playing more games, and even among people I know the gender gap between gamers is closing. Watching previously-uninterested friends (many of them female) huddled around an EyeToy was fairly encouraging.
However, in the eyes of the majority, gaming is still very much a marginalised pastime and stereotypes, while beginning to fade, still paint gamers as social recluses with little interest in anything "healthier".
Thankfully, ad campaigns similar to those seen for the GBA SP are beginning to depict videogames as a far more "adult" hobby.
Mike Babb, England
I think it's all a phase and not an addiction.
When I was younger I loved playing computer games (Doom generation) and network/broadband play is loads of fun.
Gaming has it's positive aspects too and can develop the brain to think.
The negative is probably a bit of the isolation you get yourself in, but then again, it's just a matter of shutting down the computer and stepping out of the front door.
While parents who give in to every child's demand of buying that new toy/game, they are only feeding that child's ego... wait until he gets a job and realizes the cost of these things.
It's a very expensive hobby!
Another way to get some free media attention ! I don't believe a word of it - unless their research was limited to under 16s.
In the last 3 years the quality of game software has dropped through the floor... They all look great, but either play abysmally or are just a re-hashes of all the old ideas we've played hundreds of times before. The last game I bought was Vice City (the only game worth the 40 pounds purchase price), and I haven't seen anything since, or even heard of anything upcoming that looks remotely promising. My PS2 is currently a doorstop. Broadband gaming on a console is a none starter for me, the controls are generally abysmal compared to the PC's trusty mouse and keyboard, and I have a feeling it'll not be long before expensive 'subscriptions' start appearing so you can continue to play the game you just spend 40 pounds on !
J Brown, UK
Pokemon is a terrible example to choose. Its a collectable card game, which has had TV and video game spin-offs.
Andrew Collins, UK
I have to disagree with the comment about Pokemon being a "terrible example". Pokemon started life as a portable videogame and this has always been the focus of the franchise, however, in the face of the crushing amount of spin-offs and merchandising such as the aforementioned Wizards of the Coast trading card game and the TV series and movie licences it is very easy to forget this.
Rory Cresswell, Scotland
I own all of the Nintendo systems from Nes to Gamecube, all of the Sega systems from Master System to Dreamcast and a PS2. I have a collection of over 250 games in total and spend an average of 2 to 3 hours a day playing them. My children both also enjoy playing games, although only more kiddie orientated ones and my wife also loves a good session on Bust A Move and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. Everyone I know has at least one games console and plays extensively. With games prices staying reasonable at the moment, it's hard not to buy more and more games as they come out. It's the same as the television revolution, when that started off, it became the nation's number one leisure tool for the home, now games are taking it's place. I wouldn't be surprised if more people play games than watch TV programs in 5 years time.
Jon Lipscombe, UK
I have been playing Computer and Video Games for over 20 years and the only thing holding it back is the press and the ridiculous price we have to pay for the consoles and the games in this country. In the US and Japan they pay around £15 for a Gameboy Advance game compared to £35 here and around £30 for a Gamecube or PS2 game compared with £40 - £45 here. The consoles are much cheaper too. We also have to wait up to 6 months to get the games after their release in Japan and the US, and we often get inferior versions with the Network options removed etc. If the innovative games companies survive the Next Generation price hikes, software prices fall into line with the US, region locking is abolished and the Press stop blaming everything on Games then I can see a day that TV may become second to Games. I will certainly make sure my children get to play them.
Good. I work in the games industry and rely on gamers to pay my wages! Pity, though, that The Beeb continues to ignore games on telly. But then The Beeb is a bit fuddy and old fashioned isn't it!
R, age 50, UK
I don't think that video games will ever overtake the popularity of films. This is for the simple reason that video games are not relaxing. If you want to have a night in then you don't go and rent Tomb Raider 5 (the game), because you have to put in effort, and ultimately at the end of it, if you have not completed the game you will not be happy.
Also films obviously only cater for one single story line, in a video game you have to make it more diverse, allowing the player to explore
Luke Ryder, England
As someone who has been playing computer games since the age of 5, I can confidently predict that they could become more popular than television. Although I do play games alone, the most pleasing aspect of gaming is when you have three close friends huddled around the console. I feel that multi-player games are good ways of interacting socially, whereas people tend to become transfixed by TV, rather than talking to each other
Georgette Fenn, UK
Of course people are going to start to spend more time gaming then watching T.V. What's the point in watching fictional programs on TV. when you can flick on the Playstation and 'live' in a fictional world? Once the world is 'wired' with broadband gaming for all it will be a very interesting and exciting time which i am very glad i am able to see.
Gareth Wilson, UK
Will computer games become bigger than TV. Well I'll happily play computer games over the net for 3 or 4 hours. Because it's truly interactive. TV is something I watch while I eat, or if it's a good movie.
Phil, Bucks, UK
I personally am playing loads more computer games than before, devoting more time to them than to TV or reading a good book. As a thirtysomething gamer I'm in a better financial position than in my youth, and so am catching up with all the fun I couldn't afford between the ages of 13 and 25. I think broadband will take off, though I don't use it much myself. I prefer portable gaming in the form of my beloved Gameboy Advance SP. And yes, I'm a huge Pokemon fan too.