What are the key reasons for playing casual games?
In a recent study commissioned by casual games company, PopCap Games, it was established that people choose to play casual games for relaxation and mental exercise. A similar study by casual games maker, RealNetworks, found that playing these games can assist people with mental balance, stress relief and relaxation.
According to the PopCap Games study, the most important reasons for playing casual games are:
- Stress relief and relaxation 41% of respondents chose stress relief and relaxation as the main reason for playing casual games. Moreover, 88% of all respondents indicated that playing these games does help reduce stress levels.
- Distraction from chronic disorders 27% of respondents cited distraction from chronic pain and/or fatigue as their number one reason. Of these, 8% said that playing casual games does help reduce the level of pain and/or fatigue as a result of their illness.
- Entertainment 19% of respondents mentioned entertainment as the chief reason. To me, this is surprising. Only 19%?
- Other reasons 13% of respondents play these games for a variety of other reasons, including as a form of mental exercise.
The motivation for playing these games also varied between men and women. When asked to choose the most important reasons for playing casual games, 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.
Involved in the PopCap Games study - psychologist, author, stress management expert and casual gamer - Dr. Carl Arinoldo was not surprised with the results of the study and even went so far as to advocate casual games as a tool for stress relief.
This is what the good doctor went on to say:
Casual puzzle and word computer games can actually develop new cellular brain connections thereby helping to keep the healthy brain active and vital. By playing these 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 video games 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.
Similarly, the RealNetworks (the parent company of RealArcade) study demonstrated that men and women aged 18 years and older cited the following reasons for playing casual games:
- 64% do so as a way to unwind and relax;
- 53% do so for stress relief;
- 42% cite the activity as a way to keep the mind sharp;
- Among those respondents with children, 75% see educational benefits for their children.
Lifestyle expert, Jennifer Louden, views the above RealNetworks trends as a way for people of both genders to establish a mental balance and embrace a healthy form of comfort.
According to Jennifer:
Surprisingly, more and more women are turning to casual gaming as a way to cope with stress and take a brief escape from daily responsibilities. Furthermore, many people indulge in 'shadow comforts' things that we think will make us feel better but don't like eating too much, shopping for things we don't need or watching TV. Alternately, casual games, which attracted 100 million PC users in 2005, can stimulate the mind and combat loneliness, further supporting mainstream adoption among men, women, senior citizens and children.
Contrary to Dr. Arinoldo and Jennifer Louden, I have to admit that I found the results of both studies rather startling. Why? Because it came as a total surprise to me that close to 70% of survey respondents choose to play these games for reasons other than entertainment. Even so, it is really good to know that people are deriving benefits from playing casual games for other reasons.