PopCap Games has unveiled the results of a survey targeting “white collar” workers who play casual video games. While white collar workers’ consumption of casual games at home mirrored the overall casual gamer audience fairly closely, the survey revealed some surprising facts about the playing of casual games in the workplace – and the motives behind the activity.

Among the 7,102 consumers who answered the survey, 40% were identified as “white collar” workers. With conservative estimates pegging the casual games market at over 200 million people, this representative sample suggests that as many as 80 million white collar workers play casual games. Of those white collar workers surveyed, nearly a quarter (24%) said they play “at work” – with fully 35% of CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives saying they play at work.

“It's not surprising that today's business professionals are casual video game users,” said Carly Drum, a recognized expert on workplace issues and Managing Director of Drum Associates, a leading executive recruitment firm. “The face of today's executive workforce is definitely changing: we’re seeing employees who are much more technologically savvy and familiar with all forms of new media from social networking to blogging and beyond. So, it's natural that some business executives would also look to casual videogames that they can play on their PC, mobile phone or BlackBerry during a work break, as a way to quickly relax and recharge their batteries, so to speak.”

The survey identified 2,842 of the respondents as white collar workers – employed in management, executive management, sales, accounting, medical, technical, consulting or administrative capacities. Of all 2,842 white collar workers surveyed, 98% said they played casual games at home and 24% said they played during work hours. Of all white collar casual gamers, 65% indicated they earn US$50,000 or more in annual income (compared to 53% of casual game players overall), 22% said they earned $100,000 or more per year, and 58% indicated they had a college degree (compared to 46%). 91% of white collar gamers are age 30 or older, 68% are 40 or older, and 39% are 50 or older.

Playing At Work: Of those who said they played during work hours,

    * 14% admitted they had played casual games during business meetings or conference calls, with two thirds (65%) of those saying they did so at least once a month.
    * 61% said they play during lunch or other official break periods.
    * 52% said they play “during my work day, when I need a short break.”
    * 19% said they play “at the end of my work day, to unwind.”
    * 11% said they play “at the beginning of my work day before I get started.”

In addition, those who said they played during work hours said they do so with considerable frequency:

    * 53% said they play at work at least once a day.
    * 79% said they play at work several times a week or more.
    * 84% said they play casual games at work for between 15 and 60 minutes each day, on average.
    * 11% said they played casual games at work for an hour or more each day

As to the effects of playing casual games at work, those who do so acknowledged the following effects after taking a short game break at work:

    * 84% said they felt “more relaxed and less stressed out.”
    * 52% said they felt more confident, more energetic, more productive and/or more mentally focused.

Senior Executives Have More Fun

Of all white collar gamers who participated in the survey, 241 (slightly more than 8%) were identified as “senior executives” – CEOs, CFOs, presidents and other C-level executives. Compared to white collar gamers overall, these senior executives indicated a considerably higher frequency of play, including playing at work:

    * 35% of senior executives said they play casual games at work, vs. 23% of other white collar gamers.
    * 70% said they play “during work, when I need a short break” – vs. 49% of other white collar gamers.
    * 61% said they play once a day or more frequently during each work day, vs. 51% of other white collar gamers.
    * 71% said their typical game-play session at work lasts 15 minutes or longer, vs. 62% of other white collar gamers.

Drum says that today's workers are very interested in employment that offers work-life balance – and employers need to be sensitive to this. “It is a highly competitive job market and combating stress is a big part of maintaining a high level of productivity for all employees – and providing a less stressful environment can equate to higher employee retention. Any way a worker can alleviate job stress through exercise, diet, increased sleep, or relaxing with a book or casual video game is a good thing.”

Among all white collar gamers (not just those who play at work), when asked to choose the single most important reason for playing casual games, 72% chose a reason related to improving their mental state, while 24% chose “entertainment.” As Cynthia Whitehead, a lawyer from Oakland, California, puts it, “After a long day of writing laws for formerly communist countries, the siren song of Bejeweled will beckon and I’ll find myself unwinding with a few levels of gem-swapping.”

Nearly half (48%) of respondents who said they play casual games at work indicated that they supervise other co-workers. Of those in supervisory roles, 79% said they encouraged their staff to take brief mental breaks during the workday, and 29% said that more than half of the employees who reported to them played casual games during the workday.

Fully 21% of all survey respondents said that at least some of their casual game playing occurs on their mobile device (cell phone, BlackBerry, Pocket PC, PDA, etc.). Of those who said they played on a mobile device, a whopping 68% said they had downloaded and purchased a game for their mobile device, roughly six times greater than the number for consumers overall.

Of all white collar workers who said they play casual games (not just those who play at work), 87% have been playing casual games for three years or more, and 58% have been playing for six years or more. In addition, 93% play at least once a week, 85% play twice a week or more, and 46% play every day. Three quarters (75%) said their casual gaming activities consume three or more hours of time per week.

Survey Methodology

This international research was conducted by Information Solutions Group (ISG; infosolutionsgroup.com) exclusively for PopCap Games. The results are based on online surveys completed by 2,842 respondents randomly selected between June 15 and June 29, 2007. The audience consisted of 1,899 United States and 943 international PopCap.com Website visitors; 772 were men and 2,069 were women. In theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results will differ by no more than 1.8 percentage points from what would have been obtained by seeking out and polling all PopCap.com users age 18 and over. Smaller subgroups reflect larger margins of sampling error. Other sources of error, such as variations in the order of questions or the wording within the questionnaire, may also contribute to different results.

Specific Roles and Titles

The exact breakout of titles/roles among 2,842 white collar workers surveyed was:

    * 29% Professionals (accountants, architects, doctors, etc.)
    * 24% Clerical/Support Staff (administrative, secretarial, clerical, etc.)
    * 17% Middle Management (managers, directors, etc.)
    * 14% Technical Staff (IT, programming, support etc.)
    * 9% Executive/Senior Management (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, Presidents, etc.)
    * 7% Other Management/Sales