Why Do Women Play Video Games?

Once an arena heavily dominated by young men, video games have changed with the times. Female gamers are now the fastest-growing untapped market for programmers and designers. From apps that focus on puzzles and collecting candy to games such as The Sims, some popular games these days are in business because of loyal female players. However, it isn’t just games designed to appeal to women that are flourishing. Games that were once a male clubhouse of players are now attracting female counterparts.

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Women and Gaming: What’s Changed?

Over the past 15 years, “No Girls Allowed” signs have come tumbling down around the gaming community. Women have put aside traditionally female hobbies in favor of putting their feet up, ordering pizza, and slaying a few zombies. Studies show women enjoy games for the same reasons men do. Video games relieve stress, release adrenaline, and keep the brain engaged and the senses reactive. Many female players would rather not sit and watch television because of the desire to “do something.” Gaming is an excellent choice for those who don’t like their minds being idle but could use some physical downtime.

Gender Differences In Gaming

The difference between male and female gamers isn’t in the level of interest, but in what kind of games appeal to each demographic. For instance, console gaming is still most popular among young men under 25. On the other hand, browser-based casino games like those available on goodluckmate.com are huge favorites among women.

While many gender-related stereotypes are made to be broken in the world of gaming, a few hold true. Games that focus on sports, racing, and shooting have between 2-5% female audience, a small sliver of the pie. Those that favor building, designing, and working collectively to explore or develop things draw females in at an astounding 60%-75% of the gaming audience.

The Evolution Of Gaming

As time goes on, certain videogame genres are growing more even in the male to female ratio. Fantasy and medieval war games, for instance, were once marketed with the picture of a busty, scantily-clad female avatar. These days, as the number of women interested in these build-and-conquer fantasy games is rising, the marketing campaigns for these games have changed.

Today’s women and young girls are encouraged to feel empowered. The number of females embracing their “inner geek” has a lot to do with societal acceptance. While activities such as video gaming, table-top gaming, and an interest in computer programming were once a fast-track to getting beaten up on the playground, younger people are no longer ashamed to admit they enjoy these things. Attendance at conventions based on video games, fantasy, and science-fiction has skyrocketed in the past decade. It’s not just the boys who feel comfortable letting that geek flag fly.

With this shift in cultural norms, more and more women are willing to embrace gaming openly. The increasing number of female gamers is accompanied by an increase in female programmers, designers, and visionaries.

Awareness of Sexism Within The Community

When the number of female gamers was a fraction of today’s numbers, sexist behavior and outright bullying would often discourage women from pursuing an interest in mostly male-dominated games. Instead, women who enjoyed games tended to take sanctuary in activities with a thriving community of women, such as playing cards online. Others would simply adopt a male persona to play a game that wasn’t designed to attract females.

The awareness of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior in the gaming industry has gone mainstream in the past decade. With more female players, designers, and even CEOs speaking up about their own negative experienced, today’s women have found a voice. The result of this is heightened tolerance, even in those games that only a few years ago didn’t offer a female avatar.

Inclusivity in Today’s Gaming World

As the video game landscape changes, it’s not just women who are finding their place. Representation of minorities, seniors, and those with disabilities is also increasing. As it turns out, most people play video games for exactly the same reasons. They’re fun, engaging, convenient, and relatively inexpensive. While tastes in games vary widely, the reasons for playing are fairly consistent.

Charu decided to unite her Honors Degree in New Media and lifetime of geekiness to pursue a career in tech and gaming journalism. You can usually find her writing about a variety of topics and drooling over new gadgets and games.