ever-widening audience of female electronic game players is bringing new meaning
to the phrase, You play like a girl. Despite the long-standing stereotype
that dedicated electronic gamers are young and male, a number of studies have
shown that adult women are giving the boys a run for their money, particularly
in the online games arena.
than half of the 117-million active game
players in the US play online games and nearly 64% of these online game players
are women, reveals Nielsen Entertainments 2006 Active Gamer Benchmark Study.
These numbers are backed up by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)s
findings that women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater
portion of the game-playing population than boys age 17 or younger. Furthermore,
adult women are also almost twice as likely as men to spend 20 hours per week
playing PC games, reports the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Put simply,
women of all ages love to play games.
are women playing Halo all night long?
necessarily. These studies are using a broad definition of games, which includes
old standbys like Solitaire and Hearts along with the more hardcore
games like Halo. But thats what is so important about these findings
its not just the serious players that you typically think of who are spending
the most time online. Women might not be playing Halo all night long, but they
are devoting significant amounts of time to games like Slingo, Bingo and strategy
evidence supports that female players tend to gravitate toward games which are
mentally or socially rewarding. This includes games with well-developed storylines
and multiple options for female characters, multiplayer games with cooperative
play capabilities, or those which call upon strategy and reasoning skills. Online
communities for game players are popular with women as well for this same reason.
The most popular games tend to be those which are easy to pick up and learn, yet
at which its difficult to excel. Women like a good challenge, the same as
men, but often cant dedicate as much time to mastering complex game-play.
Word games, puzzle games, board games, casino and arcade games fit the bill in
this department as they can be played online in short bursts or for hours at a
stretch. Casual games, such as Mahjong or Bejeweled, have proven to be hugely
popular among female gamers. While female gamers may enjoy straight-forward shoot-em-ups
or racing games, at the end of the day the games need to offer something more
satisfying than just action or gore to hold their interest.
does this mean for game makers?
findings like these, its no wonder that the game industry is beginning to
pay real attention to the growing demographic of female gamers. Publishers and
developers are quickly realizing that their primarily male-focused products and
messaging need a fresh approach to better target and tap into this consumer segment
. While female game players already enjoy playing the same games as men across
a variety of game platforms, there is an opportunity for the game industry to
do more to attract the female audience in greater numbers.
a larger base of female game players doesnt require a total departure from
conventional game making, but rather a shift in perspective. In addition to hiring
more women for hands-on development roles, game makers who havent already,
should consider running focus groups with female players to find out what kind
of games appeal to them and what theyd like to see in new games. By approaching
game development and promotion from a more inclusive point-of-view, the industry
can cash in on an already large and growing audience and give rise to a new era
where everyone wants to play like a girl.
thanks to R.L. Fielding and Slingo for providing Good Deal Games with this article
is a leading online destination for people who enjoy playing games, winning prizes
and having fun. Slingo offers free, original online games, free multiplayer tournaments,
downloadable games, and contests with cash prizes,
as well as a social-networking
community for game players. For more information, please visit http://www.slingo.com.
Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and
skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and
healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New
Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.