A new survey conducted by Information Solutions Group and commissioned by casual games publisher PopCap Games finds that over 9 out of 10 adult “family gamers” believe casual computer and video games provide an opporunity to “bond, or better relate to” their children and/or grandchildren, and that some 70 percent of adult respondents said they thought the casual games offered educational benefits.
“Casual games span generations and genders in ways that traditional hardcore video games never have,” said Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a psychologist (and repeat quote-provider for PopCap’s gaming surveys). “This universal appeal, and the G-rated content of the games, makes them a great activity in which the whole family can participate, with each generation enjoying the games in different ways while also enjoying the interaction with other family members.”
The queried almost 7,500 adult respondents in the latter half of June 2007, all of whom were apparently visotors to PopCaps’ U.S. and international Web sites. Some 2,298 (31 percent) of these site visitors indicated they played casual games with their children or grandchildren under age 18. Some 79 percent of these respondents were female, and 90 percent were age 30 or over; 71 percent indicated they played casual games at least once a week, with 24 percent reporting daily play.
The survey found that among “adult purchasers” of casual games (it’s not clear if that’s the same thing as the “adult gamers” identified in the respondent pool) some 94 said at least part of the game play interaction with their children or grandchildren was cooperative rather than competitive in nature; 52 percent said game play combined competition and cooperation. Among respondents with multple children or grandchildren, 88 percent described their play as at least partly cooperative, with 12 percent describing the childrens’ interaction as strictly competitive.
Adult respondents were also quick to ascribe positive benefits to casual games, with 47 percent saying they observed an increase in their child’s interest and/or understanding of spelling, reading, vocabulary, or history as a result of casual game play. Further, two-thirds of parents and grandparents who play casual games said the use of casual games in their childrens’ schools would be appropriate. Adults also reported improved hand-eye coordination in their children or grandchildren, as well as potential benefits to learning and mental acuity. However, parents were more likely than grandparents (23 percent compared to 6 percent) to say playing casual games made their children or grandchildren more relaxed.
It’s not clear that results from a sampling of PopCap’s site visitors can be generalized to the gaming population as a whole (particularly internationally) although, done properly, there’s no reason to suspect the survey results misrepresent PopCap’s online audience. PopCap says it will release additional data about children’s specific game play “soon,” but hints that its results show both boys and girls happily engage in cooperative, non-violent game play.
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