I visited family down south this past weekend. Hung out with my niece and nephew. Even went to their grade school to have lunch with them (their request!). I also chatted with some of my wife's friends. As always, I got some intel about what regular people think about video games.
First-graders? Well, first of all, lots of them wear Angry Birds shirts. I've now seen this with my own eyes. My nephew doesn't, but he loves playing Minecraft—on an Android tablet where it's cheap and easy. He also is back to being interested in my 3DS after a couple of years of losing interest in the DS or PSP I'd bring with me for a visit. For a while, he'd just cared about free games on hand-me-down iPhones. My 3DS XL has grabbed his and his sister's attention. For him, there's just something about Lego City Undercover...
Third-graders? One of them was telling me about her brother's PS2 and how she played a Simpsons game on it as well as a game where you get to climb giants. Yes, third-graders are playing Shadow of the Colossus. This is a wonderful thing. My niece, however, is more into using the camera on my 3DS to pretend she's making videos on YouTube.
And the game-loving father of two who I was chatting with at a party on Saturday? He's loving Arkham City on his Xbox 360. He's going for every Riddler trophy. He had no idea about the upcoming Arkham Origins.
The other thing he'd never heard of? The Wii U.
But he's curious about those new Xboxes and PlayStations.
As a games reporter I speak to a disproportionate number of people who are very, very familiar with video games. It's easy to lose touch with what regular people think and know about games. It's certainly just as bad to mistake the gaming tastes of one nephew or one friend as the New Truth About The State of Video Games. But I see no reason not to think that the regular people I talk to about games are perfectly normal and average in their gaming IQ.
Over the last several years, through friends and family, I've seen many of the trends of modern gaming. I've seen the appearance of phone gaming as a relevant distraction and an increasingly-valued (if not perfect) delight. I've seen Wii systems played with enthusiasm and then neglected. I've seen series like Mario Kart or Pokemon grab hold. I've seen Minecraft pop up everywhere.
When you talk to regular people about gaming, what do you hear?