Technology

The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

Social gaming site Winster targets baby boomers

Winster Many youngsters meet new acquaintances, maybe even friends, regularly on Facebook, Twitter and a whole slew of other social-networking sites.

But for baby boomers who grew up in the pre-Internet age, connecting digitally can be a strange and uncomfortable proposition. For them, there is Winster.com, an online social gaming site geared toward those middle-aged or older.

With a variety of games including puzzles and poker, players on Winster collaborate and compete to win small prizes such as $5 Amazon or $10 Wal-Mart gift certificates. The games come equipped with chat, so multiple competitors can come up with strategies together (and presumably form fast friendship ties, which is the whole point of the site, according to co-founder Michelle Kaplan).

"For seniors who have health problems and may not be able to get out, it's a way to have a social network and a group of friends that they interact with on a regular basis," Kaplan said. "They sort of form these ad hoc friendship circles when they can't go and physically visit friends."

Kaplan said that since the 2007 launch, more than 2 million unique visitors have played games on Winster. About 80% are female; more than 90% of all players are older than 45.

"In the old days, these people might get together and knit," Kaplan said. "Now they come online and play games together."

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-- Shan Li

Photo: A picture puzzle game on Winster.com. Credit: Winster

 
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