The games mums play

If you thought that playing computer games was just for geeks, think >again. We take a look at why there’s been a huge rise in women playing games online as babyworld launches its new Games Channel.

Here come the women!

Computer games are for blokes, right? All that violence and sport and
racing isn’t really our cup of tea, is it girls? After all, who wants to sit down and interact with a screen?

Interestingly, it seems that many women do. Granted, they don’t go doolally over the sort of computer games that men lose themselves in - fighting battles, racing cars, playing football, etc. However, online games, that test intellect, problem-solving ability and role play, are
a different matter altogether.

A recent study carried out by international internet information provider comScore discovered that 217 million people were online gamers, accounting for almost a third of all people who use the internet. Even more interesting is the number of female aficionados. In 2004, 25% of all gamers were female but recent reports indicate that this number has rocketed. One US study showed that more than half of all online gamers are now women,
most of whom are aged 30 to 35 years old.

Portrait of an online gamer

According to online game specialists Zylom, women who play their games aren’t reclusive geeks who spend hours on their computer each day, eschewing real-life social opportunities. ‘They have an average job and live in an average town. They use the internet to contact friends, find product information, buy items and … play games. [They] don’t see themselves
as gamers. It is just something they do for fun, [spending on average] 30 minutes every day.’

Time to play

These women normally fit in their playing time around their other responsibilities: when their baby is sleeping, before or after work and at night after they’ve put their children to bed. Because many of the games only take five or ten minutes to play, they’re easily incorporated into daily life for brief moments of entertainment, as babyworlder Jo Snook,
from Hampshire, explains.

‘I participate in games like jigsaws, mind puzzles and word games. It keeps me mentally alert and gives me something else to think about rather than how much washing and ironing I have to do! When I was feeding my son Harry, it kept me awake at 3am and 6am, when he was not quite dropping off and wanted me to cuddle him. When I was pregnant and couldn’t
sleep, I’d participate in Pool with random people from all over the world.

‘Thanks to these games, I don’t feel like I have baby-brain any more. I’m quite competitive as I’ve been a sportswoman for 25 years so it lets me get that ‘feeling of euphoria’ back when/if I win and finally it lets me switch off from everything else that needs to be done – it’s
MY time!’

Game for it!

Babyworld’s Community Manager Louise Simmons, from Oxfordshire, agrees with Jo that these games help stimulate her brain but adds that they’re also a great way to relax in the evening and more entertaining than watching the box!

‘I play mostly time-management and role-play games at home on my computer. I like them because they’re challenging, they’re something I can do on my own, they stimulate my brain but, most of all, they’re great, great fun! I find them far more entertaining than the TV and would rather play a game than indulge myself in soaps. It’s a great way to relax after a busy day once the kids are in bed.’

For other women like babyworlder Michelle Tarrant, from Trowbridge, online gaming give them a chance to try out their luck at games that they don’t do so well at in real life. ‘I play Backgammon regularly online and always have it running in the background when I’m on the
PC,’ says Michelle. ‘Funnily enough, I can’t play Backgammon well in a face-to-face situation: I almost always lose! But I play well online.’

Price to play

Naturally mums are watching their budgets so the beauty of playing games online is that they offer either a more basic version or a shorter version for free and then charge to download the game fully, as Louise explains. ‘Because you can trial all games for an hour to decide if the game is something you really want to spend money on: it’s great as the demos tend to be good fun! I tend to play games like The Sims, where you basically run the lives of people, making sure that all their needs are met. I also love games where you can be a barbarian or a sorcerer and go on adventures and quests.’

Stay and play!

If playing games online takes your fancy, look no further! As of 2008, babyworld will be offering a games channel, provided by Zylom.co.uk, offering a mixture of puzzle action and word, card and board games that can either be played online for free or purchased. Steph Neuman, Editor of Babyworld, comments on why the site has chosen to add this facility.
‘It seems that babyworlders like to play online games and that’s why we’ve looked for a partner to provide a range of games that they might enjoy. Being a very computer-literate group, these young mums are already enjoying each others company in our community and now they can play games together!’

Our recent online poll confirmed the popularity: more than two-thirds of our members already play online games. As of November, they can stay and play on their favourite parenting website!

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