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Nearly a third (31%) of adults surveyed indicated they had children or grandchildren under 18 who played family-friendly “casual” computer/video games – puzzle, word and simple action games – in their home, according to what PopCap Games said was the largest survey of players of casual computer/video games conducted (via NextGeneration).

Of those 2,298 “family gamers,” 80% said they played casual games with their children or grandchildren. Since conservative estimates peg the casual games market at more than 200 million people, the survey would indicate that more than 50 million casual gamers are “family gamers” who enjoy experiencing the games in the company of younger family members, PopCap said.

Survey firm Information Solutions Group contacted 7,487 consumers and identified 2,298 as “family gamers.” Some 79% of those “family gamers” were female and 95% were age 30 or older – figures that closely reflect the overall casual gamer audience, according to PopCap.

As many as 44% of survey respondents identified themselves as mothers of children who play casual games, and 36% said they were grandmothers. Among males, 16% and 6% of respondents identified themselves as fathers and grandfathers, respectively.

The following are more findings from the PopCap casual games study:

Time Well Spent – Bonding, Education, More

  • Among adult “family gamers,” 92% overall (and 95% of grandparents) said that they felt the games provided an opportunity to “bond with, or better relate to” their children or grandchildren.
  • Fully 70% of respondents said they see casual games as providing valuable educational benefits.
  • Only 28% of adult family gamers indicated they allowed their children or grandchildren to play “hardcore” video games – with fathers and grandfathers being significantly more inclined to allow the playing of such games than mothers and grandmothers (37% vs. 25%).
  • The average age of the children referenced by parents or grandparents who took the survey was 10.2 years old, with 65% being age 9 or older and 94% age 5 or older.
  • Among the children with whom adults said they play the games, more than half (53%) were boys – suggesting that aggressive, violent and/or explicit games are not the only ones that appeal to young males.

Cooperative Versus Competitive Play

  • Among adult purchasers of casual games who have one or more children or grandchildren who play the games in their home, 94% said at least part of their game-play interaction with their children or grandchildren was cooperative in nature – working together to solve puzzles, complete levels and so forth.
  • In addition, 52% said the game-play with their kids or grandkids was typically a combination of competitive and cooperative play.
  • Almost half (48%) of respondents indicated that they had multiple children or grandchildren who played the games in their home:
    • Of those respondents, 88% described the game-play interaction between the children as at least partly cooperative.
    • 12% characterized that interaction as strictly competitive.

Benefits of Play

  • Many of the adults surveyed attributed a wide spectrum of mental benefits to casual gaming:
    • Nearly half (47%) of respondents observed an increase in their child’s level of interest and/or understanding in spelling, reading, vocabulary, or history as a result of casual game play.
    • Mothers and grandmothers (49% each) observed these benefits more often than fathers (41%) and grandfathers (38%).
    • These benefits were observed far more frequently in children between the ages of 5 and 12 (about 51.5% of the time) than in children age 13 to 17 (39% of the time).
  • 66% of parents and grandparents of children who play casual games said they would welcome the use of such games in their children’s or grandchildren’s schools.
  • Parents were considerably more likely to perceive a reduction in stress levels among their children than grandparents were: 23% of parents vs. just 6% of grandparents noticed a correlation between children’s playing the games and becoming more relaxed.
  • More than one in ten (11%) survey respondents also said they purchase casual games for, and/or play casual games with, a child with a physical or cognitive disability.
  • The most common benefits cited for children with disabilities were skill-building, hand-eye coordination improvement, positive reinforcement, stronger concentration and increased confidence.

Frequency of Play

  • Nearly one quarter (24%) of those surveyed said their children or grandchildren play casual games daily, with 71% indicating child/grandchild game-play at least once a week.
  • Nearly all (96%) of respondents said they limited children’s game-playing sessions to two hours or less.
  • Only 18% indicated that their children or grandchildren played the games more than 9 hours per week.
  • Weekends (55%) and “after school on weekdays” (43%) were cited as the most popular times for kids to play casual games, with 32% also enjoying the games at night before going to bed.

About the study: This international research was conducted by Information Solutions Group (ISG) exclusively for PopCap Games. The results are based on online surveys completed by 2,298 respondents randomly selected between June 15 and June 29, 2007. The audience consisted of 1,645 United States and 653 international PopCap.com Website visitors; 483 were men and 1,815 were women.

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