Game Accessibility

Study Finds Casual Games Popular Among Disabled Players

PopCap Games LogoAn Information Solutions Group survey conducted on behalf of PopCap Games revealed a strong trend in casual gaming among physically, mentally or developmentally disabled individuals. They found that over 20 per cent of casual gamers live with some kind of disability.

The opinion research firm interviewed 13,296 casual game players, including 2,738 disabled gamers, between April 2 and 17, 2008. Over three quarters of them identified their disability as "moderate" or "severeā€. The survey showed that those living with disabilities played casual games more often, for more hours every week and for longer periods of time each time than non-disabled individuals. Read More...

Nearly two thirds (64%) said they played casual games every day, while another 28 per cent said they played several times a week. Comparatively, only 57 per cent of ordinary gamers said to play casual games on a daily basis.

The positive impact of casual games is evident, with 94 per cent of disabled interviewees saying these games brought them physical or mental benefits. More then three quarters said these games provided them with "additional benefits over and above what a typical non-disabled player might experience."

The reported benefits range from deeper sensations of achievement and "belonging," to distractions from loneliness or chronic pain. Among other benefits included stress relief, mood lifting, learning, improved concentration and better coordination.

"Our son with Attention Deficit Disorder does not really remember he has a disability when he is playing," says one of the participants.

"With some forms of depression, a person may be very focused on something that clearly amounts to a misperception of reality, " says Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a Stony Brook, New York psychologist who has treated patients dealing with physical and mental disabilities. "So the chance to distance themselves from the perceived negative situation and relax may allow them to think more clearly and consider the situation later in a more realistic manner."

Playing trends also showed that 26% of those physically disabled and 29 per cent of those with mental disabilities played "late at night, before bed," while standing at 11 per cent for those with developmental or learning disabilities.

Almost half (44%) of disabled gamers said they had recommended casual games to others with significant disabilities, and more than a tenth of participants (11%) said that a "physician, psychiatrist, physical therapist or other medical professional had prescribed or recommended playing casual games as part of the treatment" for their disability.

Casual games were shown to bring people together with 44 per cent of disabled gamers saying they played casual games with other people at least part of the time. On the other hand more than one in four (28%) said they played casual games with other disabled individuals.

The main types of casual games preferred were "puzzle" (84%), "word and trivia" (61%) and "arcade" (59%) being the three most-cited genres. As well, "Card" (54%) and "hidden object" (51%) games rounded out the top five categories among disabled gamers.

Only 26% of disabled casual gamers said they also play traditional, "hardcore" video games; among those respondents with physical disabilities specifically, that figure dropped to 18%. Among all disabled gamers who also play hardcore games, 25% said they played hardcore games on a daily basis -- compared to 64% who play casual games daily.

These disabilities and their predominance ranged from:

Physical

-Rheumatoid Arthritis/Osteoarthritis (14%)
-Fibromyalgia (11%)
-Multiple Sclerosis (7%).

Mental

-Moderate/Severe Depression (41%)
-Bipolar Disorder (16%)
-Anxiety Disorder (15%)

Developmental/Learning

-ADD/ADHD (46%)
-Autism (15%)
-Dyslexia (11%)

The casual game industry represents a significant portion of the gaming market with an estimated 300 to 400 million players worldwide.