Obesity

Halo Health

Fit, happy gamers

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Teenaged video gamers are socially inept, fat, pimpled loners who rarely leave their parents' basements, right? Not according to a September study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey of 1,100 teens, ages 12 to 17, found that 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls play computer, web, portable, or console games. The five most popular games among American teens are Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. Eighty percent of teens play five or more different game genres. That includes the usual first-person shooters, fighting, and sports games that anti-gamers tend to emphasize, but the same teens are also playing puzzle, rhythm, and strategy games, not to mention intricate multiplayer online games.

Meanwhile, despite those worries about social isolation, 65 percent of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them. The report also notes that video gaming can open up new game-based social networks.

Nor do gamers resemble Jabba the Hutt, say researchers from the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and the University of Delaware in Newark. In a survey of 7,000 players of Everquest II, also published in September, the researchers found that multiplayer online gamers are more physically fit than average Americans. For example, adult gamers' body mass index averages 25.2, compared to an overall American average of 28.