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Men are more reluctant to admit that that they play games, the Casual Games Association has claimed. However I disagree with this as a great deal of the men who work at SmartHouse and a lot of men I know love bragging about their gaming prowess.

Men are just as likely as women to play casual video games, but are less likely to admit it, according to an industry report that shatters a widely held industry belief that such games appeal mainly to women.

But women are more likely to buy casual games — a broad term referring to games that are easy to pick and play — than men, who are more determined to find a free version or try to thwart anti-piracy protections on games.

Those were some of the findings in the first yearly market report by the Casual Games Association, an industry group aimed at promoting a fast-growing segment that accounts for about 10 percent of the $30 billion global video game market.

“Everyone always thought that casual games were something that only appeal to women,” Jessica Tams, managing director of the association, said in an interview. “We have always been obsessed about making games for women.”

Surveys of players showed that, while nearly three-fourths of people who bought casual games were women, the players of such games were split 50-50 between the sexes.

The reason men have not been reflected in the data so far is because most males are fans of realistic “hardcore” games and many do not admit they like to play simpler games involving shiny gems or lines of colored balls.

“It was really shocking for everybody. We knew these guys were playing these games,” Tams said. “But the hardcore gamer who is playing ‘Halo’ with his buddies isn’t going to brag that he just beat the next level of ‘Zuma’.”

Such information could be useful to game developers, who are pouring money into the casual games segment amid growing popularity of devices such as mobile telephones with sharp color screens and Nintendo Wii console.

One emerging trend is the addition of casual games to social networking Web sites such as News Corp MySpace and Facebook, Tams said.

“You have these two big draws, Facebook and MySpace, but the big problem they’ve been having is that they haven’t been able to monetize their consumers yet and video games are a way for them to monetize their consumers,” Tams said.

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