Where Are the Female Gamers?
10:41 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story
Stomped pointed us towards a thoughtful article published by the UK Guardian newspaper which considers one of the biggest mysteries of the gaming market: if women make up over 50% of the gaming audience, according to surveys, why do they seemingly have so little impact on the economics or content of the market itself?
The answer is as interesting and complex as any issue where gender and stereotypical behavior become factors. One reason the female gamer might be so "invisible" to the game makers and publishers, according to the article, is that they are playing "free" games -- web site games, free downloads, games that came with their computer or games purchased by another family member.
Many arguments are made that the reason female gamers aren't paying customers is due to the fact that the games fail to address their specific "needs" in the market, but the article also contradicts this notion:
Most studies report a gender divide in the kinds of PC and console games played. Males tend to like action, while women are more into role-playing adventures. Men like strategy, driving things and shooting things. Women like good stories, character development and solving problems. "They read the backstory in the manuals and really get into the entire gaming experience," says Martin Feeney, a software programmer who hosts a games site at the Irish portal Online.ie. Vangie Beal is the publisher of Gamegirlz.com, a web site dedicated to not only supporting female gamers but erasing the gender stereotypes that continue to limit their participation in the industry. The article also includes quotes from the founders of Womengamers.com, a similar site.
But women don't necessarily dislike shoot'em-ups, as many women gamers and the proliferation of all-female Quake clans will testify. Many would just prefer a good story to go with the gore. Often, games that cross gender barriers, such as Ultima and EverQuest, have action and adventure elements. "In they end," says Beal, "they all just want a good game to play."
Another factor which the article doesn't directly address may be the extremely limited presence of women in the development and publishing fields of game creation. Read through the rest of the article for more sides of the issue, and be sure to present your thoughts on the matter in our Forums.
"Women on the Gaming Front" at the Guardian UK
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