I'm Game

As a typical teen of the 80's, you could usually find me at the roller rink, the movie theater watching the latest John Hughes flick, or... at the arcade.

I spent too many hours and quarters playing Ms. Pac Man, Asteroids, and my personal fave, Centipede. I'm proud to say, you could almost always find my initials on the leader boards. If someone knocked it off, I'd spend my whole role of quarters trying to get back on. In our little world, it was like being famous. Sort of.

At home, my sister and I spent hours playing Pong, later graduating to Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Tetris. Most of the time, I played with other guys. Not too many of my girlfriends wanted to spend a lot of time at the arcade or in front of the TV playing video games. They preferred to slap on some Bonne Bell lip gloss and Maybelline mascara and head to the mall to check out the boys. They didn't seem to get that the boys were at the arcade. Duh! Not wanting to be left out, I gooped on the gloss and followed them to the mall.

But I really wanted to be at the arcade.

Then I grew up and had kids. No more arcade days for me. But after paying my dues with years of having The Elmo Song stuck in my head, the kids finally grew up and got into gaming. I was so excited!!! Except for the fact that most of my favorite games were "retro" when retro wasn't cool, it was nice to have an excuse to play again.

But these days, we don't need an excuse.

Gaming has become a regular part of life for everyone. When we were kids, adults would laugh off our video games. But adults of our generation will push their own kids aside to rock out to Rock Band or kick some ass on Street Fighter. Unlike our parents, we get gaming, even if they still don't get us still playing. Just the other day, I was showing my mom Draw Something on my iPhone. She thought it was interesting, but before I could finish demo'ing it to her, she asked, "Doesn't this just waste time?"

"Yes, it wastes time," I told her. "That's kind of the point."

I love tuning out with a game. A few of my favorites to tune out with come from PopCap. I have Bejewelled Blitz on my iPhone, Solitaire Blitz on Facebook, and Plants vs. Zombies on my Nintendo 3DS. With all that playing, you'd think there wasn't time to get anything done. Actually, gaming is helping me cope. It's like Zoloft but without the whole losing-interest-in-sex thing.

Picking up a device or flipping over to another window to play a quick "casual game" between answering emails and working on articles or posts is a fun reward for getting my work done. Plus, it's a simple little pleasure that helps me get through the day. And I'm not alone.

More and more women are jumping into gaming. With the popularity of "casual games" on our mobile devices and the ease of connecting with friends with a quick game on Facebook, women are finding gaming a nice escape from our routines and responsibilities. But us girls are attracted to gaming for different reasons than the guys. Men mostly want to compete. Not that women don't want to compete, but as Melanie Morris of Ireland's Image Magazine found out, "Females seek something different in gaming to men. They're looking for coping methods, and they like the positive affirmations. It transports them to a safe environment where they can go into their own world." That's not to say that women aren't competitive. We just like the warm fuzzies of gaming, too!

I recently co-hosted a PopCap sponsored roundtable discussion at Splashes in Laguna with a group of female bloggers that enjoy a good game. Pop Cap is best known for Plants vs. Zombies (which I recently downloaded onto my Nintendo 3DS). We were talking about some of our favorite games and why. One feature we all agreed on some games is a chat feature. Being able to flip behind the game to chat with our friend/opponent is part of the fun. Most everyone at the table was only slightly familiar with Solitaire Blitz, but by the next morning, we were all tearing it up to the top of the leader board. Two weeks later, we are sharing virtual silver and bottles of rum with each other. We also have a private Facebook group where we're goading each other on for high scores. We're not a competitive bunch at all. ;)

One thing we all agreed on at the PopCap luncheon:

Recharging with a little play time is a really good thing.

So what games are you hooked on?

Disclosure: I'm one of the #PopCapMoms Group and a #NintendoEnthused Brand Ambassador. That means I get paid with cash and/or games. My mom STILL doesn't get it.