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Thursday, October 28, 2004

The littlest gamers

Their ranks are growing fast. A lot of 4-to-6-year-olds want to keep up with older gamers in their families and/or are finding conventional toys increasingly boring. In an article on this group of gamers, the New York Times points out recent Kaiser Family Foundation research showing that "half of all 4-to-6-year-old children have played video games - on hand-held devices, computers or consoles - and one in four played several times a week." The figure is 14% for kids 3 and under. "It is unclear whether video games teach preschool children more about phonics and problem solving than about simply how to tool around in a virtual playground. But everyone seems to agree that the ranks of young video gamers are substantial," according to the Times. That's great news for the likes of VTech, Atari, Techno Source, and other game and console makers. While PS2 and GameBoy will probably appear on a lot of little tykes' wish lists this season, systems like V.Smile and Leapster are the "training wheels" parents are more likely to go for - at least, that's what these marketers are counting on. But the big video game companies like Sony and Nintendo are also developing little-kid-style accessories and games that reach into the lower age levels. Who will win - big brands with little-kid bells and whistles or kid brands that purportedly teach phonics? Email me what you think!


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