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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Gaming Girlpower

The stereotypical image of the video gamer as an anti-social, pasty-faced, high school dropout living in his mother’s basement has thankfully faded into the past. The Wii brought video gaming into the living room and Microsoft and Sony happily jumped on board, turning the Xbox and PlayStation into entertainment hubs for all the family.

More recently, the console manufacturers and traditional game publishers have had to share the burgeoning market with a host of new developers, producing hundreds of casual games playable on PCs, handhelds, and cell phones.

And who’s leading the charge into casual gaming? Women. By some estimates, women represent over 70% of the casual game market. FarmVille, a role-playing game played via Facebook, is a typical example - of the more than 80 million active users, 60% are female.

But it’s not just casual games. With the Wii came a whole new genre of get-up-off-the-couch games, including sports simulation, workout and fitness routines, and every other imaginable activity from karaoke to cooking. According to WomenGamers.com, female gaming participation has increased so much that now 38% of all console gamers and 43% of PC gamers are women.

So which are the most popular games? If you have female gamers in the house but you are uninspired by God of War III or the latest Grand Theft Auto, what should you be looking for?

A list of best-selling games for women is hard to come by and the cross-over between casual games and PC or console-based games makes the numbers even harder to tally. However, in lieu of a best-sellers list, Forbes magazine recently featured a Top 15 Videogames For Women article, based on the recommendations of Fiona Cherbeck, head of the Women in Game Special Interest Group at the International Game Developers Association.

The Forbes Top 15 is an eclectic group of casual games, PC games and console games, and includes everything from popular puzzle games like Bejeweled and LittleBigPlanet to more esoteric offerings like Flower and the Final Fantasy series. There are adventure games like Nancy Drew, simulation games like Sims 3, and even M-rated titles like the galactic battle game Mass Effect 2. If you’re female and you love gaming, there is definitely something here for you!

We have included links to The Online Mom reviews where available or to the publishers’ game sites. However, be sure to check the ESRB ratings and content descriptors if you are looking to buy or download for the family. 

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: PopCap Games

Brain Age
Genre: Puzzle, memory
Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Zynga

Final Fantasy
Genre: Role-playing
Publisher: Square Enix

Genre: Poetic-adventure
Publisher: thegamecompany

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Sony

Mass Effect 2
Genre: Role-playing
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Nancy Drew
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Her Interactive

Genre: Puzzle Publisher: PopCap Games

Genre: Action/puzzle
Publisher: Valve Corporation

Sims 3
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: Music/karaoke
Publisher: Sony

Wii Sports
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Nintendo

World of Warcraft
Genre: Role-playing
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: PopCap Games

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