At the highest level, the survey found that: more casual game players view the playing of such games as an important leisure time activity than TV, reading, or spending time with family and friends; 88% of respondents derive stress relief from playing; over half play casual games on a daily basis; 71% are 40 or older and fully 47% are 50 or older.
The survey, which reflects the responses of 2,191 purchasers of at least one PopCap game, was conducted in August, 2006 by leading market research firm Information Solutions Group and carries a confidence interval of +/- 1.9%, significantly better than the industry average. As the leading developer and publisher of casual games in the world, PopCap’s website attracts more than 5.5 million unique visitors per month, and its games (including Bejeweled(R), Bookworm(R), Chuzzle(TM) and Zuma(R)) have been played by hundreds of millions of consumers since the company’s founding six years ago.
"We’ve never set out to make a ’healthy’ game or a ’game for women’ — we simply try to make high quality, broadly appealing, FUN games for everyone," said Jason Kapalka, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of PopCap. "We know from the many emails and letters we receive that some portion of our customers derives health benefits from the games, and that many view playing our games as a major source of fun in their lives, but these survey results are surprising even to us!"
Among the most interesting findings of the survey were responses to questions regarding the location, duration and reasons for playing casual computer games, defined for survey purposes as "puzzle, word, simple action/arcade and other family-friendly, non-violent games which can be played on computers and mobile devices." Survey findings included:
Motives For Playing: 88% of players indicated they experienced stress relief from playing casual games and 74% cited mental exercise as a benefit; when asked to choose the most important reasons for playing, 41% picked "stress relief/relaxation," more than twice the number (19%) who chose "entertainment"; 27% said the games provided distraction from chronic pain and/or fatigue, and fully 8% said they derived actual relief from chronic pain and/or fatigue.
Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a Stony Brook NY-based psychologist of 25 years and an author and expert on stress management who has played casual games and advocates them as a source of both stress relief and cognitive exercise, was not surprised by the survey results. "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," he stated. "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. Unlike traditional videogames that tend to over-stimulate while they engage our minds, casual games have a calming effect while still providing an acceptable level of distraction and entertainment."
Leisure Time Priorities: When asked to identify "important" leisure time activities from among more than a dozen common such activities listed, more survey respondents picked "playing casual computer games" (75%) than any other choice, including "reading a book, newspaper or magazine" (73%), "spending time with friends or family" (70%), "watching television or movies" (69%) or "listening to music or the radio" (57%).
Player Makeup: 76% of players are female; 71% are 40 or older and 47% are 50 or older; 46% are college graduates with 14% holding a master’s or PhD; 53% have an annual household income of $50,000 or more; 67% are married and 53% have at least one child. (Fully one quarter of survey respondents hail from outside North America.)
Gameplay Habits: Asked to name their favorite genres of casual games, survey respondents selected puzzle (85%), word (62%), arcade (61%) and card games (51%) as their top choices; asked when they play casual games, respondents chose weekday evenings (51%), "late at night before going to bed" (47%) and weekends (35%) as the most common times they play — with 11% stating they play during work hours. Dr. Arinoldo noted that the sizable portion of survey subjects who identified weekday evenings as a time when they play (as opposed the smaller number who play on weekends) may correlate with higher stress levels experienced during the work week.
Inveterate Players: 77% of respondents stated they have been playing casual games for at least three years and 49% indicated they have been playing for five or more years; fully 21% said they’ve been playing for 10 or more years, essentially since casual games first appeared on the Web. More than half (57%) of all respondents say they play casual games on a daily basis, and 90% said they play twice or more per week. On the same note, over half of the respondents (52%) stated that they play casual games for at least five hours per week, and 29% said they play for 10 or more hours each week.
Segmentation By Gender: Interestingly, while the overall audience for casual games is predominantly female, the percentage of women under 40 who play casual games (26%) is significantly smaller than men under 40 (36%). Further, of those men who do play casual games, their history of playing such games is generally much longer than their female counterparts’ — 61% of men said they have been playing casual games for 5 years or more, while only 46% of women said they’d been playing that long. However, female casual gamers are making up for lost time by playing more frequently and for longer periods of time: 60% of all female casual gamers say they play on a daily basis, compared to 44% of men, and 29% of women casual gamers say they play for 10 or more hours per week compared to 22% of men. Women also play for longer stretches, with 43% saying their casual games sessions typically last an hour or more, compared to 31% 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. Arinoldo.
The reasons for playing casual games also varied between men and women: when asked to choose the most important reasons for playing, 44% of women included "stress relief" among their choices, compared to 33% of men. In addition 17% of women chose "entertainment" as a reason for playing compared to 24% of men. Finally, the types of casual games enjoyed by each gender were significantly different: while men chose more game genres and identified simple sports, war, role-playing and other simulations between 14% and 18% of the time, women cited those genres only 1% to 9% of the time (including 1% of women choosing "war/combat" games, compared to 18% of men). Women named "puzzle" (87%), "word games" (66%) "arcade" (60%) and "card games" (53%) as their top genres, compared to 79%, 47%, 62% and 45% of men choosing those respective genres.
This international research was conducted by Information Solutions Group (ISG) exclusively for PopCap Games. The results are based upon online surveys completed by 2,191 randomly selected respondents between the dates of August 11th and August 21st 2006. The audience consisted of 1,643 United States and 548 international PopCap.com website visitors. Of the total, 528 were male and 1,663 were female. In theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results will differ by no more than 1.9 percentage points from what would have been obtained by seeking out and polling all PopCap.com users age 18 and over. Smaller subgroups reflect larger margins of sampling error. In addition to sampling error, there may exist other sources of error. For example, variations in the order of questions or wording within the questionnaire may contribute to different results. [September 13, 2006]
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