Hugh Pickens writes "Video games used to be about fighting aliens and rescuing princesses, writes Rohin Dharmakumar in Forbes, but the most popular games today have you tilling your farm, hiring waiting staff and devising menus for your restaurant or taking your pets out for walks while maintaining cordial relations with the neighbors. 'Reality, it would seem, is the new escapism.' Video games of the pre-social network era were mostly played by boys or young men but 'now the core audience of social network games are girls and young women,' says Alok Kejriwal, founder and CEO of games2win, an online gaming company. The tipping point in the US came in 2008 when women outnumbered men on the Internet. Combined with millions of parents and grandparents who're new to the Internet, the traditional face of the gamer is changing from that of a 25-year-old male to a band stretching from 16 to 40 years comprising men and women in almost equal numbers, says Sebastien de Halleux, one of the co-founders of Playfish, who predicts that someone is going to create a social game very shortly that pulls in a billion dollars a year. Gaming for this new set of players is less about breathtaking graphics, pulsating sound or edge-of-the-seat action and more about strengthening existing real world relations through frequent casual gaming. 'Think of these games as a sandbox where everybody has the same tools, yet everyone achieves different results,' says de Halleux."
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