Actually, that’s something we’ve known for a long time. In the US, UK, and Australia, women 25 years and older are more likely to play a game at the PC than men in the same age-group. It’s a statistic that’s frequently discarded by games publishers, because teens and tweens are easier to market to, even though they’re not actually that sizeable a gaming demographic. That’s confirmed every year by surveys and research.
In a bit of a round-table discussion, one commentator wondered about the people being surveyed, asking, “Who are these people?”
One of my co-workers said, “Nobody you know.”
Another amended, “Nobody you’ve asked.”
And quite often it’s games you haven’t thought of. Freecell and Minesweeper aren’t maybe what you might think of as games, but games they are, absolutely. They get a fair bit of time, nonetheless. Indeed, card-games top the PC games list for Q4 2008.
Nielsen tracks gameplay for 1,777 games in 185,000 USA households, and relies on a system of electronic recording rather than simply assuming that people are going to remember and honestly report data.
The Q4 2008 report can be found here, if you’re interested. There’s a lot more data, and it is pleasantly compact, at only 9 pages including the cover.
At the end of the day, though, the most effective route to an adult’s bank account is through a tween or teen. Adults tend to respond more strongly to quality and tend to be more price-sensitive in their gaming purchases, and that tends to earn them the brush-off from games publishers more often than not.