You’re probably familiar with the typical “gamer” stereotype: a young boy glued to his console or PC while playing some first-person shooter or MMORPG for hours on end. But in reality, gamers are a much more diverse lot – many being adults playing casual games on their phones. In China, it’s become common for kids to see their parents fixated on their smartphones while playing games within WeChat, the country’s biggest social platform. WeChat recently revealed that nearly 70 per cent of gamers on the app are people older than 30. Gendered stereotypes about gamers also go out the window with casual games, which have a more equitable distribution. WeChat data shows that players of its mini games are split evenly between men and women. WeChat first introduced some basic games to the platform in 2013. But by 2017, the app allowed developers to make their own full-fledged mini programs. By the end of the year, WeChat developer Tencent brought this functionality to games, giving users the ability to play more sophisticated games that launch within WeChat itself – no need to download a new app. Mini Programs: The apps inside apps that make WeChat so powerful Soon after the launch of these mini games, WeChat had its first viral hit with Tiao yi tiao , which roughly translates to “Jump Jump”. The simple mobile game that involves jumping across platforms hooked 100 million daily active users within just two weeks. Other mini games have since become popular, aided by WeChat’s sharing function. By 2019, WeChat said mini games had more than 400 million monthly active users. Li Qing, director of mini games for WeChat, said during an event on Wednesday that the games had been gaining even more traction recently, but he didn’t provide new numbers. The secret to the success of mini games is keeping them casual. Many of these games are strategic, simulation, puzzle and racing games – think Tetris or Temple Run. Casual games have been a growing category in recent years thanks to the spread of smartphones. They consist of simple but addictive titles like Candy Crush Saga, which accumulated more than 2.5 billion downloads over five years. But casual games don’t need to be a mega hit like Candy Crush to find success. Last year, 83 per cent of all game downloads were casual games, according to an App Annie report on mobile usage. Although traditional, so-called core games still make more money and take up more of players’ time, gaming analytics firm Newzoo projects mobile games will take in US$77.2 billion in 2020. WeChat is capitalising on the addictive nature of casual mobile games by making them even more accessible within an app that’s already on nearly every smartphone in China. Li explained that mini games are attractive to players because they’re simple to use and don’t require a separate download. They also fit into the busy schedules of adults, who might use brief moments of spare time to get in a few minutes of gameplay. Other research confirms that older players are more likely to play casual games because they don’t require special skills or much commitment. This is why you might see Candy Crush Saga open on so many phones while commuting to work. With more people flocking to mini games, WeChat is also able to collect more advertising money. The exposure of ads in mini games jumped 80 per cent in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, according to WeChat. WeChat also says it’s now planning to improve the quality of mini games, which might be aided by a new investment from its owner. Earlier this week, Tencent announced it was buying a minority stake in Voodoo, a leader in hyper-casual games. “Voodoo’s games are a great fit for WeChat mini games,” said Serkan Toto, chief executive of game industry consultancy Kantan Games in an earlier interview with the Post . Part of Tencent’s interest in Voodoo might have to do with new competition from TikTok owner ByteDance, which has been investing in its own casual games . Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and its rival Kuaishou now both offer in-app mini games.