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Nielsen to start rating video games

New rating system will track frequently played games, demographics and related media trends among gamers.

Nielsen Media Research, famed for its influential television ratings, plans to provide ratings for video games.

The rating system will monitor the goings-on of video game consoles, including next-generation models such as Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii.

Data will include which games are played most frequently, along with corresponding information about the demographics of the players. The video-game rating system is also intended to offer insight into what television and Internet trends the players follow. Called GamePlay Metrics, it will be the first project to come out of Nielsen's new Wireless and Interactive Services Division, which itself launched Wednesday.

By offering statistical data on video game use, Nielsen said advertisers that target games and their players will be able to better pinpoint their audiences and which games are potentially the most lucrative. In-game advertising has recently been on the rise, and technology's mainstays are noticing: Microsoft, for example, game ad leader Massive in the spring.

In addition to advertisers, Nielsen is marketing GamePlay Metrics toward the game industry itself. Creating games for consoles that have yet to be released is an expensive and often hit-or-miss enterprise, and Nielsen said its data could help game manufacturers develop a business model that can cut down on costs.

Participants in GamePlay Metrics will come from the same 10,000 sample households used for Nielsen's television ratings. When household members load up games on their consoles, the titles of the games will be recorded without interruption, along with relevant demographic information.