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Nielsen stinks

Rating agency confused: which came first, the gamer or the game?

Ever since I learned about how the television industry determines the number of viewers for a show, I found it highly suspicious. I'm all for sample-data and statistics, but isn't it possible that anyone who has a Nielsen box will skew their viewing habits?

5000 people who know that big brother is watching them can't seriously be believed to be representative of the millions of people watching thousands of shows on hundred of channels.

Well I'm not in the television business, nor in the advertising business, so Nielsen's accuracy doesn't affect me directly - and I can't really blame them for the garbage found on most channels most of the time. But now they've gone and done something that is both ridiculous and concerning - if anyone believes them.

They claim, you see, that "Females 25 years and older make up the largest block of PC game players, accounting for 46.2 percent of all players and 54.6 percent of all game play minutes in December 2008." Shocking, I say. Shocking. I know no female gamers. I know some serious female Solitaire players. And a few who still like Minesweeper. But no real gamers.

But wait. As far as Nielsen is concerned, Solitaire counts as gaming. That's right - if you play the games that came free on your PC, Nielsen thinks you're a gamer. Which strikes me as both odd and moronic.

Because presumably they were measuring this audience so that the gaming industry would know who's playing their games and towards what audience they should direct their game-designing efforts. But bogus claims like these serve no real purpose. I don't care how serious a gamer anyone is, but if someone hasn't ever bought a game, as far as I'm concerned, he/she isn't a gamer.

In a survey such as this, I would think that one needs first be a consumer of a product to be counted. Now certainly potential consumers should be counted somehow. I, for one, rarely bought PC games when I was young. We had a slow, old computer at home and my friend always had a new, fast computer, so I'd get my fill of PC gaming at his house. I had yet to buy a PC game - but certainly the potential was there.

My issue here is what defines a game and a gamer - someone who exclusively plays Solitaire is neither a gamer, nor is he/she playing a game, and hence has no relevance to the gaming industry, except as someone who won't ever do anything but play Solitaire.

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