Historically, we have thought of the "gamer" as a male between the ages of 10 and 24. But industry experts know that this demo has been changing for quite some time,
especially in the area of casual games, which are easily accessible, often free and not necessarily time-consuming. According to a report from the Casual Games Association, a significant portion of
the 150 million users worldwide are women over 30: "What that suggests rather clearly is that casual games have succeeded in expanding the overall electronic games market, creating greater gender
balance than could ever be achieved by the first-person shooter and massively popular multi-player PC and console games."
Lifetime Games, a top section of mylifetime.com, ranks among the
Top 25 online gaming sites for women but apparently thinks women prefer games like The Perfect Prom Dress
and Open House
, the goal of which is to build complete couches, over games
. "It is a great way for a woman to check out and relieve stress for 20 minutes," says Dan Suratt, vice president of digital media for Lifetime. Indeed, we're sure
nothing relieves the stress of the campaign trail for Michelle Obama like a good dress-up game. The site boasts 1 million unique visitors each month; the potential first lady clearly isn't the only
one rushing home every night to check out the latest game. But who is playing? If you take a look at the comments sections, the answer becomes clear: illiterate women and women who don't speak any
English. Of course, the games found on Lifetime could be a classic case of quality being sacrificed for quantity: Starting early this year, Lifetime's goal was to release a new game every week.
(Recently: Use the BurgerTron to assemble mouth-watering meals and keep your customers satisfied.)
Women's important role in online gaming is not limited to one of consumer. In
collaboration with Playboy Enterprises, THQ Wireless recently launched Playboy Games. The first title, Pool Party
, is supposedly based on "actual events held at the Playboy Mansion," such as
water balloon fights, waterslide slaloms and aquatic mechanical bull riding. All those women gamers can now maneuver animated, bikini-clad Playmates. Hooray for gender balance.