Casual Connect hosted a focus group panel with five “mom gamers”– moms who love playing casual games– with the audience asking questions. The most interesting thing was the diversity in how the panelists responded to the questions, suggesting that not all mom gamers are the same.
Moms talked about how casual games can be social (playing with their friends, children, etc.) but the interesting thing was that the moms in our panel rarely played with people they didn’t know. Their definition of “social” seemed to be extremely confined to existing acquaintances, especially close ones.
Mickey, who has four children, uses games as a platform to keep communication lines open. She said that when kids are growing through troubles, they won’t talk about it but then if they start playing games with her, eventually they will talk themselves through what is bothering them. “They can go into their room and shut the door but I can still get to them,” she said.
There were mixed feelings about so-called “social gaming” on Facebook, mainly regarding games that were not “truly” social: “Facebook is a social network to keep in touch with people, not a place to go play games,” Tia said “I get tired of game requests. You hope that when you get a message from a friend, you want it to be exciting, not a request for a carrot or something.”
Sometimes moms don’t want to be social, and the games are a way to escape from real life. Linda talked about how games helped her with her physical pain. “I’m in constant pain. When I can focus in on a game, it makes [the pain] take a back seat. It’s a wonderful escape. I used to look at this as a waste of time; now I know there are different benefits from it,” she said.
For Tia, narratives were very important in escaping, because it had an element of fantasy. Not everyone, however, agreed.
There is still a social stigma for women to talk about, or admit that they are game players. “There are still moms that think it’s weird that an adult woman would be online playing a game. We want our children to become mature yet we’re sitting here playing games. How do you make sense of that? The key is to find that balance. We still have our critics,” Linda said.
‘If you’re a 45-year old woman playing games, it’s not something you advertise,” Tia said, “A lot of people are gamers but they don’t talk about it. It’s that stigma; you’re a mom, you’re supposed to be cleaning or taking care of kids,:
“Society doesn’t make it cool,” Kay said. “Half of my friends on Facebook play but don’t even advertise it. But we didn’t grow up with this stuff. At 35, I realized, oh my good this is so fun.”
Mickey agreed: “We’re in our second childhood, Let us enjoy it,” she said.