Women are hardcore gamers and who knew? A recent survey by Info Solutions Group (ISG) revealed that the average person playing online games, such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, is a 43-year old woman. In the United States, 55% of online gamers are women and 38% of the these women say they play several times a day. Interestingly, the vast majority of women choose to play social games with real-world friends (68% of women vs 56% of men). Women are also twice as likely to play with relatives (46% vs 29%). So we girls are actually using social games to be, well, social? Imagine that! “It makes me feel connected,” Daniela, a mami of two and self-proclaimed Farmville fanatic explains. “By playing online games with my friends, I at least feel like I have contact with the world outside of diapers and dirty dishes.”

Zynga, creator of Farmville, is one of the most popular social game development companies. As of June 2011, Zynga boasts over 270 million monthly active users. Manny Anekal, director of Brand Advertising at Zynga, spoke at this year’s SXSW festival about the enormous growth of social gaming. More specifically, he addressed the impact of social gaming on mothers. He noted that “more women are playing Farmville than watching soap operas.” According to Anekal, the “new hardcore gamer” is a 40-year-old mother.

So don’t feel guilty if you’re stealing away a few minutes to play and socialize, you’re most definitely in good company.

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A few of mamis favorite games:

FARMVILLE • Released in June 2009 by San Francisco based Zynga Inc.
Farmville will turn the most urbane mami into a devoted farmer. You begin by building your own farm. You get intrigued when you start harvesting crops, decorating your land, and adopting animals. You get engrossed (some may call it obsessed) by the excitement of game updates and the social interaction with your fellow farmers.

In 2010, 20% of all Facebook users were tending to digital crops on Farmville. The game has spawned an urban version called Cityville, which has eclipsed Farmville in popularity, recently hitting 100 million users. But let it be known, the farm came first!

ANGRY BIRDS • Released in December 2009 by Finland based Rovio Mobile
The MIT Entrepreneurship Review has called Angry Birds “the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far.” Like most absurdly popular social games, the concept is simple. Players use a slingshot to shoot angry birds at smiling pigs stationed throughout the playing field. The goal is to kill all of the pigs in sight. It sounds violent, but even my best friend, the most animal-loving person I know, is addicted. In fact, she has limited herself to only playing at night, before bed. “I can’t go to sleep until I beat another level,” she says. “I regret it in the morning, when I’m groggily getting the kids ready for school. But I’ll never learn.”

In March of 2011, the company reported that they had over 100 million downloads. By June of 2011, the number ballooned to 250 million! Beware of millions of slingshot-wielding mamis!

WORDS WITH FRIENDS • Released in August 2009 by Texas based Newtoy Inc (now part of Zynga)
Words with Friends is essentially an online version of Scrabble. It is easy to play, easy to understand, and easy to get addicted to—it took me less than a day. There is no single player mode; this game is all about being social. And competitive. I like to tell myself that I play too keep my mind sharp. But I play to win. You can play against 20 friends at once. There is a chat feature, which allows you to talk with (or taunt) your competitors. I will admit, Words with Friends is my weakness. I can live without Angry Birds, Farmville, and all the rest. But don’t take away my Words! I am a writer after all.

In June of 2011, Words with Friends had over 1.6 million daily users and the number is growing rapidly. As is my vocabulary.