Following research findings
released in September of players of casual games by Seattle-based game publisher and developer PopCap Games (Bookworm, Zuma
), the company today released more data suggesting that almost half of those who play these types of games are age 50 or older.
The survey was conducted in August, 2006 by market research firm Information Solutions Group, and the findings were the result of an online survey of PopCap customers' casual gaming habits. The overall results are based upon online surveys completed by 2,191 randomly selected respondents, including 1,040 (47 percent) people age 50 or older, 19 percent of whom were age 60 or older.
According to PopCap, the survey found that of casual game players age 50 and above, 86 percent cited stress relief as the chief benefit experienced from playing casual games. 74 percent noted cognitive exercise as a benefit, while 62 percent identified memory strengthening. 32 percent of those in this age range also commented that playing these games distracted them from chronic pain and/or fatigue, while nearly one in ten subjects said they derive actual pain relief from playing. In general, 86 percent of older survey respondents said that they felt playing casual games offered them physical and/or mental health benefits, compared to 74 percent of those under 50.
Interestingly, the survey found that older players enjoy casual games much more frequently and for longer periods than their younger counterparts. 65 percent of those surveyed age 50 and above noted that they play the games on a daily basis, compared to less than half of younger players. 31 percent of older gamers say they play for 10 or more hours per week, compared to 25 percent of younger players. Additionally, more of those players in the older age bracket also play games in the mornings than younger players, although both groups agreed that the most popular time to play casual games “weekday evenings.”
The research also revealed some interesting data concerning leisure time activities among those surveyed, with 75 percent identifying “playing casual computer games” as the number one way to spend their free time. Among those under 50, the three most popular choices were “spending time with friends or family” (74 percent), “playing casual computer games” (73 percent) and both “watching TV or movies” and “reading a book, newspaper or magazine” (tied with 71 percent each). On a related question, 16 percent of survey respondents age 50 or older chose “playing casual computer games” as their most important leisure-time activity, compared with 10 percent of younger respondents.
Finally, only 18 percent of subjects 50 or older selected simple action games as one of their genre of choice, compared to 50 percent of those under 50. Puzzle (87 percent), Arcade (69 percent) and Word games (58 percent) were the top three genre choices among survey respondents under the age of 50, while the top three choices among those age 50 and over were Puzzle (84 percent), Word (66 percent) and Card games (57 percent).
“I am in my fifties and I use casual word and puzzle games on the computer as well as recommending them to my patients,” said psychologist Dr. Carl Arinoldo, who is also an author and expert on stress management. “I find that these types of games are wonderful as a stress management tool, while at the same time providing excellent cognitive exercise.”
Arinoldo added: “While they may not choose ‘entertainment’ as the primary reason for playing, it seems reasonable to assume that older players of these games are likely to recognize the benefits of cognitive exercise more readily than younger consumers. When you’re 65 or 70 and you play a game of Bookworm
, you’re more likely to identify improvements in your mental acuity that might go unnoticed by younger people.”