Survey on Casual Games and Gender

While we know that the demographics between hardcore and casual gamers differ (hc: mostly male/younger, cg: mostly female/older) it is not as clear why this is the case.

Therefore I plan to do a online survey on one typical casual games site and one typical hardcore games site.
To get clear results I try to find two websites which are as similar as possible except for their casual and hardcore audience and ask them about user motives, time investment, experience with computers…

I think for the casual side it makes sense to focus on the „try before you buy casual games“ on the pc (and leave the consoles and Massive Online Games out of the way).
This leads me, on the hardcore side, to PC Hardcore gamers, for example Ego Shooters, Real Time Strategy or non massive RPGs.

On the other hand distribution models and often the level of violence differ between these two markets.
Both are aspects which could have a big influence on the possible customers (e.G. many women being turned off by violence). But both are not central differences between casual and hardcore at least if you go with this casualgames whitepaper definition:

Casual / Hardcore games involve less/more „complicated game controls and overall complexity in terms of game play or investment required to get through the game“ (or enjoy the game session as I would formulate it).

I am thinking about good example sites to highlight aspects of the casual – hardcore games difference?

How about „try before you buy HARDCORE games“ which would lead us to indie games – right?

Gamers in Society Seminar

„University of Tampere Hypermedia Laboratory’s Game Research Lab organizes a seminar on Gamers in Society. The two-day event consists of themed sessions that discuss the social and cultural aspects of gaming.“ I will be happy to attend. You find the program here:

http://gamelab.uta.fi/socialgamer-seminar/programme.htm

Especially the „Casual Games Discussion“ with Jussi Kuittinen, Annakaisa Kultima, Frans Mäyrä, Johannes Niemelä and Janne Paavilainen
and
‘You Play Like a Girl!’ Cross Gender Competition and the Uneven Playing Field“ by Elena Bertozzi could be interesting for me.

Immersion and Gender

Frans Mäyrä and Laura Ermi did a small but interesting survey about immersion in computer games You can download the text from Frans blog: http://www.uta.fi/~tlilma/ direct link to text.

‚Summing up mean values of all the three component of gameplay immersion, Half Live 2 appears to be the overall strongest game in immersing its players. On the other end, the experience of playing The Sims 2 is apparently not felt as immersive. But it would be mistake to claim Half Life 2 to be a better game than the Sims 2 on this basis. It may well be that the more “casual” character of the Sims 2 gameplay is one of the reasons behind its appeal for these particular players. The Sims 2 was also the only one of the examined games with a notable amount of female respondents, but the relatively low evaluation of immersion is not relate to the gender of the informants, since females gave overall higher evaluation to the immersion in that game than men.‘

Would be interesting to find out if casual gamers in general are less immersed than hard core gamers. Often the term ‚casual‘ is used to point out that you can stop playing at any time or doing something else while playing. Both speaks against strong immersion through casual games.

A similar concept to immersion is „Flow“ by Csikszentmihalyi:

„The concept (…) describes an optimal mental state where a person is complete occupied with a task that matches the person’s skills, being neither too hard (leading to anxiety) or easy (leading to boredom).“ (Jesper Juul: http://www.half-real.net/dictionary/#flow)

Probably casual gamers are not as experienced with computer games and need easier – meaning casual – games to reach flow states.

And what impact has gender on immersion. Will men and women be immersed in different kind of games in different ways? In the survey women were more immersed by the casual Sims 2 than men. On the other hand they responded lower immersion levels than men for the other games.

Paper about Casual games and Gender

Right now I am working on my master thesis in sociology about the topic „Casual games and gender“. As part of the preparation of the thesis I wrote a shorter (18pages) paper.

Abstract:

This paper discusses the question: “Why do more women play casual games than men, if altogether more men play computer games than women?”

Gender seems to have an impact upon the affinity towards different kinds of games and upon how much effort a person is willing to invest while playing a computer game. This is indicated by the different gender ratios of casual and hardcore gamers. Many potential gamers do not identify themselves with the stereotype of ‘real’ gamers, i.e., hardcore gamers, who are often seen as being young, male and lacking social skills. This could be one of the reasons why women and older people more frequently play the less ‘real’ or ‘typical’ casual games while often not seeing themselves as ‘computer gamers’.

However, there are indications that the primary factor for the preference towards casual or hardcore games is, in fact, not gender. On the contrary, gender (as well as age) could cloud the more important variables, such as experience with computers or time allocation.
For a better picture of the relationship between the different variables we would need more empirical data.

Download:

Casual games and gender (English)

Casual Games und Geschlecht (German)

I would be very happy about comments or suggestions concerning the text or my future research. I plan to do conduct a quantitative survey on casual and hardcore game sites starting March or April 2007.

The German version was marked with an 1.3 which equals an A- in the US.

Casuality conference in Amsterdam

I will be attending the CASUALITY Conference in Amsterdam 7-9.February 2007. You can expect all the top casual game developers, publishers and distributors from the US and Europe to be there.

I would be happy to arrange a meeting. I am in Amsterdam 6.-9. February 2007. You can contact me through ulrich@tausend.name and +49-179-2951979 (the phone will work in Amsterdam).

Studie über Computerspieler in Deutschland

Die Studie findet sich hier: http://www.spielplatz-deutschland.de/
Bejubelt wird sie in einem Spiegel Online Artikel.
Die Studie erhebt einen wissenschaftlichen Anspruch, kann ihn aber nicht aufrecht halten. Über den vielen bunten Bilder und dem Blick in den Kühlschrank der Gamer wurden leider genaue Angaben zur Erhebung vergessen (wie viele Leute wurden denn überhaupt befragt?).

Natürlich ist jede mögliche Einteilung in Spielergruppen recht konstruiert und daher angreifbar. Da ist die genutzte Einteilung in „Freizeit-, Intensiv-, Gewohnheits-, Denk- und Fantasiespieler“ keine Ausnahme. Während sich Freizeit, Gewohnheits- und Intensivspieler entlang einer Dimension bewegen, passen die Genrebezeichnungen Denk- und Fantasiespieler nicht in dieses Konzept.

Vielleicht kann man aber an die Rohdaten der Untersuchung kommen. Vielleicht könnte ich diese für meine Eigene Forschung im Rahmen meiner Diplomarbeit (Casual Games and Gender) nutzen.