In 1982, when game arcades were all the rage, a sociologist claimed that, of every 100 arcade game players, 80 per cent were men while only 20 per cent were women. In 2011, 51 per cent of gamers were men, and 49 per cent were women, and in 2014, an Internet Advertising Bureau study revealed that 48 per cent of gamers were men, while 52 per cent were women—how times change.
The 2014 Gamergate scandal made this abundantly clear in a way that gave some women involved in the gaming industry, as well as observers, a huge amount of trauma. Anonymous posts online claimed the attention a female game developer was getting for a new product was not due to the quality of the product.
It snowballed from there, and lead to a torrent of abuse, hate mail, death threats, and more. As unpleasant as the experience was for so many people, some good came out of it—and, once again, sisters are doing it for themselves (and others).
women show their gaming skills. Not only are women gamers playing a significant role in tackling online bullying, they are also showing that they are a force to be reckoned with. The Internet Advertising Bureau study, along with a few others, highlighted the fact that, while women are definitely gaming, the industry was either ignorant of it, or turned a blind eye to it (tacit recognition of a gender wage gap, perhaps?).
Skills-based gaming is on the rise, no doubt due to the exploding popularity of mobile gaming. It is even creeping into casinos around the world, and usually because the industry is trying to attract younger players who think that slot machines and table games are boring or old-fashioned.
Even if millennials opt for skills-based gaming, we can’t ignore a 2017 Quantic Foundry report based on 270,000 gamers’ survey responses. Sixty-nine per cent of women gamers preferred playing match-3 and farming or family simulation games, compared to only 31 per cent of male gamers. On the flip side, only 2 per cent of the women gamers surveyed preferred playing sports genre games, compared to the 98 per cent of male players for whom sports was their genre of choice.
the gaming industry responds—slowly. The majority of women gamers surveyed obviously have a preference for games that feature character development, communication, role-playing and dynamic plots. For the boys, it is all about action, breaking stuff, blowing things up and killing just about anything that moves.
However, before anyone starts thinking that the old sugar, spice, and everything nice stuff is all true, let’s not forget the 2013 Variety Report that revealed 30 per cent of women gamers play games with violent content. MMORPGs and action-adventure games also have a growing female audience.
The gaming industry is slowly starting to take notice of girl gamers. While there women are still under-represented in game design and development, and many new games are still packed with negative stereotypes and sexist imagery, a brief look at just about any mobile gaming app store reveals that women are not being forgotten.
Even the online casino industry has taken note. Microgaming made waves when it released Castle Builder, an online slot that combines social and skills-based gaming with a traditional casino game. Change is coming to the industry. Slowly, yes, but it is coming.