Light Brain Breaks

Entertainment snacking is the practice of playing casual electronic games for limited periods of times during a day.

“Why do smart people love seemingly mindless games? Angry Birds is one of the latest to join the pantheon of ‘casual games’ that have appealed to a mass audience with a blend of addictive game play, memorable design and deft marketing. The games are designed to be played in short bursts, sometimes called ‘entertainment snacking’ by industry executives, and there is no stigma attached to adults pulling out their mobile phones and playing in most places. Games like Angry Birds incorporate cute, warm graphics, amusing sound effects and a reward system to make players feel good. A scientific study from 2008 found that casual games provide a ‘cognitive distraction’ that could significantly improve players’ moods and stress levels.

Casual games are defined by the ease with which they can be picked up, including by players bewildered by more complex ‘hardcore games’ for PCs and consoles, with their intricate story lines and controls. The category spans early sensations like Tetris, the Russian-made puzzle game for PCs and consoles from the 1980s, to Bejeweled, a decade-old shape-matching game that is still in wide use in mobile devices. The average mobile-game player is 45 years old and nearly as likely to be female as male, according to a survey last year of more than 1,100 customers of AT&T’s wireless service sponsored by PopCap Games, the maker of Bejeweled and other titles. When asked where they play mobile games, the top answer from respondents to the survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group, was while waiting for an appointment.”

See article at: WSJ 30Nov10: “Why We Can’t Stop Playing”