“Stop playing games and do your work!”
This phrase is typically attributed to mothers who are trying to motivate their teens to start their homework or do their chores. But, in a virtual society of electronic fun and 24-hour e-service, it's no longer just kids becoming sidetracked from their tedious duties; it's their mothers too.
An online study, conducted in January, 2004 by AOL, shows women over the age of 40 spend around 50 per cent more time playing online games than men and teens.
According to the survey of 3,613 respondents, 44 per cent of women spend less time reading or being physically active because of their game play.
Jan Bozarth, an independent producer of children's and family programs and 8 award-winning CD-ROM games, says the most recent statistics show women comprise 70 per cent of all online, casual game players and a total of 52 per cent of all Internet users.
Unfortunately, Bozarth says, most major game companies still refuse to acknowledge women as significant consumers within the gaming industry. She says they ignore their female customers for economic reasons.
“Casual games are not as lucrative as complex games,” Bozarth says.
In the gaming business complex programs are developed in response to the industry's definition of the word â€˜game' â€“ an activity in which a player resolves a conflict to achieve a goal or a â€˜win.' Most computer games are produced for a primary target of males aged 15 to 25. Developers focus on creating games that model the male method of conflict resolution through confrontation. So most games have win or lose scenarios with death and injury as the consequence for error.
Sheri Graner Ray, co-chair for the Women in Game Development committee of the International Game Developers Association, says that most females don't enjoy such games.
"Females," she says, "choose to resolve conflict with diplomacy, negotiation and compromise." In other words, no bang-bang shoot to kill game will attract much of a female audience.
Graner Ray says this doesn't mean that women don't like competition. She says they just compete in a different way than men. Women, she explains, prefer games where they, as players, don't have to do anything that directly prevents other competitors from performing their gaming tasks.
“This (female) competition takes a slightly different form in that it is usually either team oriented or it is indirect competition,” Graner Ray says.
So what do women do if they have the urge for some virtual combat without the testosterone-induced guns, gore and glory? There must be an outlet for female focused games if, as AOL's survey suggests, so many women are staying up at night to duke it out online.
The women surveyed tended to play mainly word and puzzle games â€“ a fact confirming Graner Ray's theory that women relate to computers as tools to increase productivity and self-improvement.
Click "Next page" below for some free online games that may ignite your female fire for computer competition.
Be sure to give games a chance because as Graner Ray says, “We cannot expect women to excel in technology tomorrow if we don't encourage girls to have fun with technology today.”
Free Online Gaming Sites
Addicts beware! This site boasts a slew of games (specifically one titled Typer Shark) that are guaranteed to keep you coming back for more. A number of games also offer the side benefit of increasing your speed typing and problem-solving skills, not to mention speed features (try Rocket Mania) that will increase your hand-eye co-ordination and motor skills. Be sure you don't miss Mummy Maze.
If you are willing to invest some time and cash, check out the downloadable (you can play these offline) and portable games (for your PDA).
At GameHouse.com you'll find great free word games like Text Twist and Wild Wild Words. Or try the fantastic frenzy of speedy puzzle games like Collapse, Gem Drop or Pop and Drop. If these freebies start to lose your interest you can always download the free trial of the Super versions. If they captivate your keyboard then purchase the game online for around $20.
Give your brain a real challenge with word games from Merriam-Webster. Not only do you get to experience the intellectual teasers of a world-renowned dictionary publisher, you also get to put your brain into overdrive and Letter Rip: create as many words as you can before time runs out. If you're really good you can choose between timed and untimed games and play over 100 levels.
Note that some games require the Macromedia Shockwave Player, available free from Macromedia's web site.
Big Fish Games is a great site for downloading free games and playing free games online. Choose from puzzles and puzzle games, popular ethnic games like mahjong, action games, card games and word games. This site boasts unique online games like Zuma, an action puzzle that is set in a jungle with hidden temples, traps and tricks, as well as free trial downloads like Magic Inlay, a puzzle building game set in mythical worlds built out of jewels, where you can work on multiple puzzles at once, or Inspector Parker, where you help the inspector solve a mystery with seven suspects.
Note that you will have to submit an e-mail address to many access free online games. Although this can mean you will have to put up with some more spam in your inbox, it seems a small price for such an entertaining 'reward!'
If playing computer games on the Internet seems a little too lonesome then check out Funster's multiplayer word games. Here you can compete and chat with others online. All you have to do is log on by entering a player name and password and the fun can begin. Check out games like Speedster, Free-For-All or Annex. Then visit other features like Word Know-It-All, a vocabulary challenge game or Funster Forum, a bulletin board for puzzles and discussions. It's a simple-looking site but there are daily chat rooms with new puzzles and games.
Find over 150 free online games, available in Java and Flash formats, and never worry about having to download. Try action games, online arcade games, online card games and online puzzle games. These eclectic entertainers are constantly updated so you get some of the best web games out there.
Make sure you try the action-packed Boulderdash and reboot fond memories of your Commodore 64. Grab the diamonds, but avoid the falling rocks and swarming fireflies!
Also check out a selection of Fun Online Games where the game has no objective, no conflict to resolve. There's no win or lose - it's just for fun.
At Puzz.com you'll find IQ tests, puzzles, trivia, games and contests for fun and education alike.