Videogamers seek more peace, less war

Thu Jun 9, 2011 1:56pm EDT
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By Richard Chang

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Videogames are becoming kinder and gentler as women and older players seek pleasure in a pastime long dominated by teenage boys hell-bent on winning wars in fantasy worlds.

While violent games like "Grand Theft Auto" and "Battlefield" remain top sellers, relaxing ones designed to induce calm and tranquility are emerging as a major category in an industry often knocked for promoting bad behavior.

"A lot of people who played games in the past have grown up. They see it more than just a child's pastime," said Jodi Whitaker, an Ohio State University doctoral student and lead author of a new study on the effect of videogames on their players.

"It's something that adults can do, so it's more socially acceptable for other people to play videogames as well."

The shift has come as videogame makers seek out casual players who want a brief diversion on their mobile phones or online, and don't care to invest $250 or more on consoles such as Sony Corp's PlayStation and Microsoft Corp's Xbox.

Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii console, cheaper at about $150, has been a major catalyst in changing the game with its focus on fitness, education and community. With 88 million units sold since its debut in 2006, the Wii is now common on cruise ships and retirement homes.

Wii games are "more of a team building exercise, more like board games," said Jeff Ryan, author of the book "Super Mario," due to be released in August.

Hardcore videogames, however, can take 40 to 60 hours to complete, along with gobs of adrenaline and a stomach for guts and gore that many older or female players lack.   Continued...

<p>Guest Anthony Parisi is dressed like the videogame character Mario as he attends a Nintendo media briefing during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>