Friday, October 06, 2006

Women gamers

Throwback to the Environmental Scan, Nielsen Entertainment did a study that routs out the myth of only young geeky boys as gamers:
Women account for 2/3 of Online Gamers

A straight lift from the article:
Fully 64 percent of online gamers are women, according to Nielsen. Online gamers overall account for 56 percent of the country's 117 million total active gamers--defined as people ages 13 and up who own and personally play games on a gaming device for at least one hour a week. Overall, when all video games are considered, male players still outnumber female by more than two-to-one, the research said.

Women who play games are taking such pursuits to mobile devices. Twenty-six percent of female gamers played mobile phone games, compared to 23 percent of male gamers.

I haven't read the study--but am curious about the demographics of these women mobile gamers. Are they soccer moms waiting in the van for practice to be over? Career women waiting for planes, clients? Doctors, musicians, postal carriers making some space in their busy days to hang with their kids for 20 minutes? Students before/after class?
All of the above.
How can we cater gaming in the library/through the library to fit these women's lives better?


Alice said...

Another bit of an article caught my eye, perhaps because I know a laproscopic surgeon.

The study of 303 surgeons found a 20-minute warm-up of video gaming immediately before laparoscopic surgery improved performance. These findings support a smaller 2003 study by the same researchers that found doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and were 27% faster than doctors who didn't play.

From USA Today.

David said...

What Nielsen is describing is known in the gaming industry as 'causal gaming'.

For the most part, causal gamers don't even count themselves as games. In fact, if you have played say Hearts or Freecell in the last week on your PC or cell phone, then you count as a causal gamer.

Most casual games are either puzzle based or sorting/ordering games that draw their roots from tetris. Research has shown that women tend to play games like tetris which deal with sorting and ordering with puzzles being next.

The interesting thing is that subscription based services from Real (Arcade) have proved quite successful to provide a business model that fits well with the needs of this consummer segment.

As for the library's roll in all of this? Really, there isn't one.

With the surgeons, they played games that require strong hand / eye skills. Halo was the game I believe they used in that study.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with David that many of the games the women gamers Nielsen talks about playing fall under the category of "casual games" -- I was going to make that comment myself, if somebody else didnt ; ) -- I'm not sure that there isn't a role for the library in casual gaming, as the games being played aren't as simple or as non-social as the origins of that species imply.

For example, "Puzzle Pirates" is growing in popularity, as are game spaces like "NeoPets," both of which have elements of casual gaming, some more complex portions, and social elements. This alone bears thought.

You also have the situation where some of the casual games themselves are becoming more complex, like the variants of mahjong, Scrabble and sudoku. In these cases, the library needs to be as involved as it is in any pursuit or hobby that may require reference support. If millions of women are playing sudoku or mahjong online for an hour a week, it is just as likely that the library will need to be aware and in tune with that as it is with other hobbies and interests.

There's also a growing divide to keep an eye on in this story; between the casual game world (that doesn't care about the divide) and the "hard core" gamers who do. The casual gamers will play what they want, if it's available, and if it's not... will do something else. Some hard core gamers, however, see the casual market as erroding both some marketshare from their resources, and as a possible loss of focus. I tend to disagree. I see casual games, especially online games, as a way to broaden the market, as we are still in the relative youth of the entire industry.