Many Women Prefer Casual Games to TV?

A new consumer survey conducted on behalf o PopCap Games by Information Solutions finds that some 76 percent of casual game players are female, 89 percent are age 30 or older, and nearly all of them cite stress relief as one of their main reasons they play casual games. If industry estimates of roughly 150 million casual game players, the survey’s proportions would indicate that roughly 100 to 110 million of them are women.

If these numbers sound familiar, it’s because PopCap initially announced the survey results in mid-September, but is now focussing on the make-to-female breakdown of the results. PopCap also has some additional analysis from psychologist and stress management expert Dr. Carl Arinoldo.

Among the 1,663 women who responded, 76 percent put “playing casual games” and “reading a book, newspaper, or magazine” in their top three leisure time activities, whereas only 73 percent ranked “spending time with friends and family” that high, and only 70 percent put “watching TV/movies” in the top three.

More interesting, though, may be that 88 percent of all the survey respondents indicated they experienced stress relief playing casual games, annd nearly three quarters of all respondents (74 percent) said mental exercise was a benefit from playing casual games. Among women, 44 percent cites stress relief as a benefit of casual gaming (compared to 33 percent of the 528 males surveyed), and 9 percent of women cited actual relief from chronic pain or fatigue, compared to just 6 percent of male respondents.

“Casual word and puzzle computer games, such as Bookworm and Bejeweled can actually develop new cellular brain connections thereby helping to keep the healthy brain active and vital,” said Dr. Carl Arinoldo in a PopCap statement. “And by seriously attending to the word and puzzle games, people can control stress by cognitively ‘blocking out’ the negative stresses of the day and ultimately train themselves to do this more reflexively. Furthermore, women tend to be more in touch with their feelings and more introspective than men, generally speaking, so it’s logical that when they’re feeling stressed women would more readily seek out some sort of remedy such as playing casual computer games.”

The survey randomly selected 2,191 visitors to the PopCap web site for participation between August 11 and August 21, 2006: although it’s a self-selecting opt-in methodology, the survey claims an overall 1.9 percent margin of error across the whole survey population with a confidence level of 5 percent: in other words, for questions asked to the entire group of survey respondents, the odds are 19 out of 20 that the survey results are within 1.9 percent of reality. Subgroups within the survey—like the men—have higher (and unspecified) margins of error.

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