1 in 5 Casual Gamers Have Disability, Survey Says

More than 20% of those that play casual games like Peggle and Bejeweled have some sort of "physical, mental or developmental disability," according to an Information Solutions Group survey commissioned by casual game developer PopCap Games.

The survey encompassed a total of 13,296 casual gamers--a market that, mostly driven by web-based applications, is estimated to have between 300 and 400 million players worldwide. The latest U.S. Census states 15.1% of the American population is disabled.

Depression, ADD / ADHA and Rheumatoid Arthritis / Osteoarthritis respectively ranked as the most common types of mental, developmental and physical conditions. Only 26% of disabled casual gamers were said to play traditional video games.

The study notes that those with disabilities typically play casual games more frequently and longer than the non-disabled, and find the benefits to include stress release, mood lifting, and "distraction from issues related to disability."

"Games like Bejeweled and Peggle, with simple controls that are also mentally challenging and engaging are ideal for me, because my mind moves as quickly as the next guy's but I type with a mouth-stick," noted 58-year-old Gary Robinson, who is described as having "severe physical disabilities."

"In some ways, games like these are the greatest thing that's appeared on the computer scene for people like me," he added.

A breakdown of the most common medical conditions and perceived benefits follows:

    Most Common Disabilities
    • Physical (46% Overall)
      • Rheumatoid Arthritis/Osteoarthritis (14%)
      • Fibromyalgia (11%)
      • Multiple Sclerosis (7%)
    • Mental (29% Overall)
      • Moderate/Severe Depression (41%)
      • Bipolar Disorder (16%)
      • Anxiety Disorder (15%)
    • Developmental/Learning (25% Overall)
      • ADD/ADHD (46%)
      • Autism (15%)
      • Dyslexia (11%)

    Most Common Perceived Benefits
    • Physical
      • Stress relief (84%)
      • Distraction from issues related to disability (73%)
    • Mental
      • Stress relief (87%)
      • Mood-lifting (78%)
    • Developmental/Learning
      • Improved concentration (79%)
      • Improved coordination/manual dexterity (73%)