Video games, which have become intensely closely related to teenage and twenty-something males, are not as gender specific as the societal norm makes them out to be, according to studies from two game publishers. RealNetworks, Inc, and PopCap Games, who specialize in the growing market of "casual games", said that their target audience, casual gamers, is dominated by women. According to them, 70 percent of casual gamers are females over the age of 40.
However, it's a completely different segment of the video game market than those who want violent, complex games that require dozens of hours of constant game play. That crowd is still mainly composed of the stereotypical early-adult male. Casual games, though, appeal to those who just want to kick back for a little while and ease their stress. That's where the middle-aged women crowd comes in.
"Women play for self care, in all different flavors and variations. They were so aware of what they were doing and why. They know what games to use for which situations," said self-help author Jennifer Louden, who was hired as part of the study. "The message was, 'It's mine, it's fun and it's just for me.'"
According to the study, the top casual cames included Bejeweled and Diner Dash. The casual gaming market has been growing steadily. DFC Intelligence predicts that it will have brought in more than $450 million by the end of the year. Sites like Pogo, Yahoo Games, and Games.com have user-friendly interfaces that are amenable to users who aren't the most tech savvy.
When Pong was originally introduced in the 1980's, it was perfectly socially acceptable for a woman to play. The early days of video games attracted both genres in a large way. However, when games became more complex and violent, it became a market dominated by males. Now it appears that, with the throwback to the more classic, casual games becoming more prevalent, women are re-entering the video game scene in droves.