CHICAGO -- Katherine Graden doesn't really like shoot-'em-up video games. She prefers games on her Wii system that test her fitness and agility — the ones her guy friends tease are her "sissy games."
"I'm like, 'Fine! Go play your violent games. I'll stick with mine,"' the high school freshman from Chicago says, chuckling.
It's a common scenario, according to a new national survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that illustrates just how ingrained games have become in youth culture.
The survey found that while young Americans don't necessarily play the same thing, nearly all of them — girls included — play video games of one kind or another.
And they don't just play by themselves. Nearly two-thirds play video games to socialize face-to-face with friends and family, while just over a quarter said they play with Internet friends.
"It shows that gamers are social people," says Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at Pew who led the report on the survey. "They communicate just as much. They spend time face-to-face, just as much as other kids. They e-mail and text."
The survey, released Tuesday, combined the telephone responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,102 young people, ages 12 to 17, and their parents. Performed from November 2007 through February of this year, and partly funded by the MacArthur Foundation, it had a margin of error of three percentage points.
Among other things, the survey found that:
• Ninety-seven percent of young respondents play video games. That's 99% of boys and 94% of girls, with little difference in the percentages among various racial and ethnic groups and incomes. In fact, 7% of those surveyed said they didn't have a computer at home, but did have a game console, such as Sony's PlayStation, Microsoft's Xbox or Nintendo's Wii.
• They play often. When surveyed, half of the respondents said they had played a video game the previous day.
• Their games of choice are as diverse as their tastes in music or TV. Eighty percent of respondents play five or more different game genres, with racing, puzzles, sports and action the most common. Favorites were Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, solitaire and Dance Dance Revolution.