The NPD Group has released the results of a study that shows that both "heavy" and "light" gamers enjoy playing games in groups, and that both types value gaming as a family activity.
The study, called Expanding the Games Market, also found that the majority of gamers, particularly teens and older gamers ages 15 to 65 and older view gaming as a way to alleviate stress and to help them unwind.
The report examined how consumer demographic groups are represented in the gaming world, and analyzed the attitudes and behaviors of user groups based on hours per week spent on gaming.
According to the study, 63 percent of the U.S. population plays video games - defined as console and portable games, PC games, games on kid-oriented systems or games on devices like cell phones or iPods. Of these, 30 percent acknowledge they spent more time gaming this year than last year, about 30 percent spend less time, and 40 percent claim to be spending the same amount of time.
The study also found that the heaviest gamers are males aged 18 to 34, and that the group devotes "significant amounts" of money and time to gaming, with a focus on "hardcore" titles as opposed to casual games.
The study defines lighter gamers by the amount of time spent as well as a preference for casual titles, and found that these light gamers fall on the upper and lower ends of the age spectrum, with a relatively high representation of females.
Says NPD analyst Anita Frazier, "The new type of game experiences brought to the market over the past several years are succeeding in reaching a broader audience. The challenge for the industry is that consumers are a fickle group, and with the great variety of options pulling at their limited free time, they're going to be easily distracted unless something really compels them to stay with gaming. To reach these less involved consumers, the industry has to work even harder, but doing so can produce great rewards.”