Online gaming to become MySpace?

Nielsen Media Research released their newest Active Gamer Study a few days ago, and according to the new stats more than 56% of the 117 million gamers in the U.S. spend at least five hours a week gaming socially in places like Xbox Live, World of Warcraft, and on WiFi platforms such as the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS.

Social gaming reaches more gamers every year with the addition of new hardware and games that allow people to compete or cooperate online. Last week's episode of The Office featured Jim and his coworkers playing Call of Duty, and South Park showed us the evils of WoW, which only attests to the growing popularity of both. If you've ever doubted the popularity of social gaming, you need to read about how our very own Christopher Grant got some ass within moments of hooking up his Xbox Vision Camera.

Social networking in the U.S. is currently dominated by MySpace, where more than half of its 90 million U.S. users are over the age of 35. As social gaming and networking continue to grow, their areas of influence are bound to overlap. Companies would love to sink their teeth into a demographic that uses their product for more then five hours a week, and users want an online experience that puts them in touch with with old and new friends, while pimping themselves out. Don't be surprised when your gamertag turns into your MySpace page, complete with sparkling stars, unicorns, and a Ben Kweller song that starts playing at full volume immediately upon loading.

You only have a few months until My SecondLifeSpace of Warcraft Live is released worldwide by Rupert Murdoch, don't tell us you weren't warned.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.