Whom do you picture when you hear the word "gamer?"
A young guy?
Think again. According to a new study by NPD Group, a technology research firm, 44% of gamers are female. But here's what's even more surprising. The largest category of gamers consists of players between the ages of 2 and 12.
The line between "real" and virtual play is disappearing. While teenagers and adults inhabit social networks like Facebook, kids interact in training-wheel worlds such as Toontown, Webkinz, Neopets, and Club Penguin. The kids then graduate from these experiences ready to join the urgently tweeting masses. Maybe it's time to retire the word "gamer," and accept that we're all playing in digital worlds in one form or another.
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.