A quirk of demographics means that people living together tend to like the same things. For instance, the most popular grocery store in the Pacific States is Albertsons, while H.E.B. takes that prize in Texas. Much of this is due to availability (H.E.B only operates in the Lone Star state), but some people in California and Maine are choosing Trader Joe’s over everything else.

Why we like things – “taste” – is an intense field of neuroscience with no single answer. Our brains are all identical, after all.

Marketing plays a part, especially when it comes to food and drink. For instance, a 2011 paper published in the British Food Journal found that customers only rank products by taste when they aren’t aware of the brand. Another way is that people buy Coca-Cola even if their taste buds prefer Pepsi.

This comes down to something called “taste perception,” a quirk of our senses that’s easy to influence. Things work in reverse, too. An excess of branding and marketing materials will turn fans away.


Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why we choose one thing over another. Exposure, beauty, genetics, and other nebulous terms like that have all been used to explain our fondness for Kroger, Safeway, Pepsi, or Coca-Cola.

Entertainment is an obvious place where preferences differ. Marvel fans and not-Marvel fans have been debating the flood of superhero movies on streaming platforms for the whole of the last decade. It’s a genre that’s nigh impossible to avoid. Similarly, music and movies are split into genres for our shopping convenience.

“Intellectual Curiosity”

States are divided by gaming genres, too. In New York, for instance, a study from GuideStrats indicates that “Social Connection” games, another word for multiplayer titles, are played more than any other type. Much of New England prefers “Intellectual Curiosity,” which describes puzzle games, strategy, and management sims.

New Jersey sticks by action or “adrenaline” games. The Garden State is arguably one of the most important hubs for entertainment in the United States, given the presence of a casino industry that broke records again in January 2024. Total revenue reached $559m as the first month of the new year closed, 28% higher than the same time in 2023.

While much of that money still comes from land-based outlets, casinos based online have been catching up. The Playstar website can offer the same games as its offline variant, contributing to a pot worth $183m in New Jersey. The NJ online casino notes that titles like 3 Secret Cities, Wolf Ridge, and Cash Eruption are some of its most popular slots.

“Competitive Spirit”

The study by GuideStats divided the United States into ten categories, determined by the responses of 3,000 gamers. This added some rather niche options to Americans’ list of hobbies, including escapism (e.g., VR) and educational titles. However, no state favored these two genres the most. We’ve already mentioned the most popular games – puzzle and action.

Nevada, another state that’s famous for its casino games, flipped the script a little, opting for intellectual pursuits overall. Just eight of fifty states choose something other than adrenaline or intellectual-based experiences. These are multiplayer games (ND, NY), “Relaxation,” including farming (AK, WY, SD), and “Competitive Spirit” or racing (CA, TX, GA).


So, what does all this say about taste or preferences? Not a lot. The genres listed are the most popular game types anywhere in the world, with the absence of VR indicative of an industry still in its expensive youth. The absence of RPG, fighting, sandbox, and platform games is perhaps the more interesting discovery, especially as these genres also include some revered titles.