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Online Gaming Moves onto College Campuses

Overwhelming majority of both male and female college students play digital games at least weekly

August 14, 2014 | Demographics | Mobile | Media & Entertainment

It’s that time of year again: College students are packing up their belongings and heading back to campus for another year of cafeteria food, late nights in the library and maybe a few parties. And based on polling by Crux Research for re:fuel, they’re likely planning on spending a significant amount of time with online games.

Frequency with Which US College Student Internet Users Play Online Games, by Gender, March 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

Among US college student internet users surveyed in March 2014, 80% of male respondents played online games at least weekly, and just over half of that group did so at least once a day. Female students ages 18 to 34 showed slightly lower usage, but it was still significant. Nearly 70% turned their attention to digital games at least weekly, while 32% reported playing once a day or more.

What devices are they using to play? January 2014 research by Millennial Media in collaboration with comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform and comScore Mobile Metrix looked at 18-to-24-year-old US internet users, not just college students, and found that smartphones accounted for the overwhelming majority of time spent with digital games, at 65%. Meanwhile, tablets grabbed 10% of digital gaming time, and PCs 25%.

Weekly Time Spent with Devices by US College Student Internet Users, March 2014 (hours)

However, re:fuel reported a different ranking in time spent with devices in general. Here, computers ruled, grabbing 38.1 hours of US college students’ time per week. Mobile phones and smartphones ranked second, with 29.3 hours, while tablets landed in second-to-last place, at 6.4 hours. Though college students were big online gamers, they didn’t spend much time with traditional gaming devices: Video game consoles saw 12.8 hours of action each week, and handheld gaming devices 9.8 hours.

eMarketer estimates that 101.1 million US consumers of all ages will play games via web browser on a desktop or laptop at least once per month this year, representing 31.7% of the population and 40.2% of internet users. We also expect 76.7% and 79.0% of all smartphone and tablet users in the country, respectively, to play games on those devices.

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