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Research Reveals Casual Games Provide Mental Balance, Stress Relief and Relaxation

August 14, 2006
Research Reveals Casual Games Provide Mental Balance, Stress Relief and Relaxation

SEATTLE - August 14, 2006—RealNetworks®, Inc. (NASDAQ: RNWK), the leading developer, publisher and distributor of casual games, today announced research findings that demonstrate U.S. adults who play computer games play "casual" games for a quick mental break. Sixty four percent of respondents cited game play as a way to unwind and relax, while 53 percent play for stress relief.

Real is providing new details about the casual games social phenomenon that more than 70 percent of people buying casual games from the company are women age 40 and older. The findings are from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive®, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, and focus groups hosted by best-selling author and women's lifestyle expert, Jennifer Louden.

Casual games are non-violent games that are simple to learn and difficult to master, and categorized as games that players can leave and pick up again easily. Play time can vary from a few minutes to hours. Digital puzzles, word games, card games, board games, and classic arcade games are all classified in this category.

The research found:

  • Women over age 40 who play casual games:
    • 67 percent play casual games at least four times per week
    • About half (47 percent) play every day
    • About 60 percent or more would rather play a casual game than talk on the phone, knit or do other projects at home (such as building or painting)
    • About 50 percent would rather play casual games than go to a movie or spend time cooking
  • Men and women ages 18 and over who play casual games:
    • 64 percent do so as a way to unwind and relax
    • 53 percent do so for stress relief
    • 42 percent cite the activity as a way to keep his/her mind sharp
    • Among those with children, 75 percent see educational benefits for their children who play casual games

"It's a wild concept, but I see this trend as a way for women and men to establish mental balance and embrace a healthy form of comfort," Louden said. "Surprisingly, more and more women are turning to casual gaming as a way to cope with stress and take a brief escape from daily responsibilities. As an author and life coach, I've worked with thousands of women for nearly 15 years to develop and encourage ways to better care for ourselves and create healthy, balanced lives that fit our individual needs. It's fascinating to see how people are using technology to comfort themselves."

According to Louden, many people indulge in "shadow comforts," things that we think will make us feel better but don't, like eating too much, shopping for things we don't need or watching TV. Alternately, casual games—which attracted 100 million PC users in 2005—can stimulate the mind and combat loneliness, further supporting mainstream adoption among men, women, senior citizens and children.

"We've always known that the appeal of casual games extends far beyond that of traditional video games, but never fully understood why until the results of this research," said Michael Schutzler, senior vice president, Games Division at RealNetworks. "Now, with insights from the research conducted by Harris Interactive and Jennifer Louden telling us that people play for stress relief and mental balance, we can appreciate the social impact of casual games and better serve our customers."


This online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive within the United States between May 23 and June 1, 2006 among 1,302 adults (aged 18 and over), including 535 women aged 40 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 1,302 adults one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-3.0 percentage points, and +/-4.3 for a sample of 535 women aged 40 and over. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About RealNetworks, Inc.

RealNetworks, Inc. is the leading creator of digital media services and software including Rhapsody, RealPlayer® 10, and casual PC and mobile games. RealNetworks has more than 2.2 million paid subscribers to its premium digital media Broadcasters, network operators, media companies and enterprises use RealNetworks' products and services to create and deliver digital media to PCs, mobile phones and consumer electronics devices. RealNetworks' corporate information is located at

About Harris Interactive®

Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides research-driven insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what could conceivably be the world's largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in France and through a global network of independent market research firms. The service bureau, HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data collection, panel development services as well as syndicated and tracking research consultation. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at

Ashley Allman

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