Sunday, July 03, 2005

Rise of the Casual Gamer

My wife and I are using the same PDA platform now, so I beamed her a demo copy of Bejeweled. Just as I thought - she became instantly addicted.

There's a common stereotype in the gaming community that puzzle games are the only genre that can target female gamers. But men seem to be increasingly into puzzle games - especially as they've been ported onto cell phones and distributed with PDA's. To me at least it seems that saying "women are only into puzzle games" was ignoring what the actual market was: the casual gamer.

Casual gaming has been a big topic as of late on Slashdot Games. Those kiddies addicted to Nintendo 8-bit systems in elementary schools are now parents working 50 hour work weeks and coaching soccer teams, so they don't have time to become an uber-leveled avatar in an MMORPG.

The BBC had an article about women becoming an emerging market in gaming where it sounds like the industry just isn't getting that point. Ernest Adams of the IGDA even said:
Women don't have free time even to set up a game. They require a game that is quick to get into and doesn't require a great time commitment,

No, that's anyone who just doesn't have the time. The article also states:
The so-called casual gaming market, made up of games such as poker, pool, bridge, bingo and puzzles, is a booming one, especially among women.

It seems like Guild Wars gets this point - where you don't have to be an addict to justify subscription costs and it doesn't take 30+ hours a week to ascend to playable experience levels. As target audiences get older and time becomes more precious, people will find out that the "casual gaming audience" is much bigger than they thought - and not just limited to a stereotypical view of women.

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