Seattle-based game publisher and developer PopCap Games (Bookworm, Zuma
) has released data surveyed from players of its popular casual games, giving excellent new information on the demographics, play habits, and reasons for casual gaming.
The findings were the result of what the company calls "the largest survey of players of 'casual' computer/videogames ever conducted," within which 2,191 PopCap customers answered questions regarding their casual gaming habits.
The survey was conducted in August, 2006 by market research firm Information Solutions Group and carries a confidence interval of +/- 1.9 percent. According to PopCap, the survey found that casual game players view the playing of casual games as a more important leisure time activity than watching television, reading, or spending time with family and friends.
In addition, 88 percent of those surveyed noted that they derive stress relief from playing, while over half play casual games on a daily basis. 71 percent of respondents indicated that they were aged 40 or older, while 47 percent were 50 or older.
Additionally, of those surveyed, 76 percent were female, and of those 71 percent were 40 or older and 47 percent were 50 or older. However, the percentage of women under 40 who play casual games (26 percent) was found to be significantly smaller than men under 40 (36 percent).
Further, of those men who do play casual games, their history of playing such games is generally much longer than their female counterparts, with 61 percent of men saying that they have been playing casual games for 5 years or more, while only 46 percent of women said they'd been playing that long.
However, female casual gamers were found to play these games more frequently and for longer periods of time. 60 percent of all female casual gamers surveyed indicated that they play on a daily basis, compared to just 44 percent of men, and 29 percent of women casual gamers say they play for ten or more hours per week compared to 22 percent of men. Women also play for longer stretches, with 43 percent saying their casual games sessions typically last an hour or more, compared to 31 percent of men.
"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 seek out some sort of remedy such as playing casual computer games," said Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a Stony Brook NY-based psychologist who advocates the playing of causal games as a source of both stress relief and cognitive exercise.
Other findings include that an overwhelming majority of 88 percent of players surveyed indicated they experienced stress relief from playing casual games, and 74 percent noted mental exercise as a benefit from playing these titles. Additionally, 41 percent picked "stress relief/relaxation" as a motive for playing casual games, while just 19 percent chose "entertainment". Interestingly, 27 percent of those surveyed indicated that casual games served as a distraction from chronic pain and/or fatigue, and 8 percent said they derived actual relief from chronic pain and/or fatigue from playing these games.
The survey also revealed some interesting date concerning gameplay habits as well, with most (51 percent) indicating that they play casual games during weekday evenings. A slightly smaller percentage (47 percent), noted that they play casual games "late at night before going to bed," and 35 percent commented that weekends were their preferred time to play. Only 11 percent responded that they play during work hours.
Also worth noting, 77 percent of those surveyed responded that they have been playing casual games for at least three years, while 49 percent indicated five years or more. 21 percent said they've been playing for 10 or more years, essentially since casual games first became available for download.
More than half (57 percent) of all respondents indicated they play casual games on a daily basis, while an overpowering 90 percent said they play twice or more per week. Similarly, 52 percent stated that they play casual games for at least five hours per week, and 29 percent indicated that they play for ten or more hours each week.