Over the past several weeks I have had the opportunity to engage with a group of people with whom I rarely interact: teenagers. From ages twelve to seventeen. As someone who is too young to have friends with children that are teenagers, it had completely slipped my mind that there was an entire spectrum of people who rarely made an appearance in my life. To both groups I was introduced as someone who writes about games online. As I am sure would have happened when I was growing up, their ears almost instantly perked up, and conversation was had.
What I observed was fairly simple and confirmed what I, and I believe many others, think about gaming in general, and in youth. Of course, this is not a full-on study with the proper controls and such, so it should all be taken with a grain of salt. As in, this is likely not wholly representative.
First? Almost every single person gamed. Whether it was on their iPads, phones, through browsers, or what the media tends to think of as more 'traditional' gaming. Everybody, young men and women both. While some young women talked about various fashion designing games they played, I really did not see it absolutely different than the group of boys who discussed their love of Minecraft. Creating things can be a lot of fun, particularly when in the confines of a structured ruleset.
Second? For a good portion of them, motion gaming and iDevices are just not cutting it long-term, though they do enjoy gaming-on-the-go. Motion gaming has largely failed to give them the experience they desire: either a narrative or a game with a more complex set of goals and strategies. Whereas iDevices? Cited as having too few games that really engross them, instead providing more games that are played between classes for a quick distraction. I do imagine more will change in these avenues, especially as many remarked on enjoying being able to give voice commands through the Kinect.
The last observation? Kickstarter has yet to have any real appeal for them. Which is great, in many ways, as they are not yet with tons of disposable income. When discussing games that were available, they saw large success stories, and found it was largely by designers and properties that had no real sway on the games they played, or with which they grew up. Right now, at least in games, Kickstarter seems to have a real appeal to nostalgia and a desire to bring back portions of gaming we seem to have lost through either an evolution of the genre, or a fade into obscurity.
So, there you are, my non-scientific study of what I learned about teenagers. I am sure there are some of you who have more experience with them on either a weekly or daily basis (or even are teenagers yourselves, hi!), so please let me know if any of these observations seem out of place. Largely, though? Outside of the Kickstarter thing? Is it that surprising to find teenagers largely have similar opinions to everyone else playing? This is what I get for only reading about the supposed effects of gaming on them, or studies on them, rather than just talking to them. Mea culpa.