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Essay

Selling Video Games To Women – Is It Really That Hard?


The Entertainment Software Association recently released their latest batch of statistics on video game sales and player demographics. There’s lots of interesting stuff in there, but the numbers on player gender sparked some chatter last week. According to the ESA, 45% of all gamers are women. That percentage stays pretty much the same for the “most frequent video game purchasers,” of which women represent 46%.

Nothing too surprising, but there were two threads of discussion prompted by it. Some people were dismissive, claiming that most women gamers are “only” playing casual games (though the ESA stats make no mention of genre preferences by gender), and therefore aren’t a concern for most developers. There were also those who pointed out that ignoring 46% of steady purchasers is bad business, and mused over how best to cater to the female market.

Let me begin with a story. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of making a new friend. Games eventually entered into our conversation. She mentioned she was eager to try some, but had no idea where to start. We found a coffee shop, and as our drinks cooled, I began to suss out what she might like to play. I described various genres, and asked questions about her other interests. Did she like puzzles? How about action movies? Which test of her abilities sounded the most appealing: critical thinking, hand-eye coordination, or philosophical reasoning? In her free time, did she prefer energetic activities, or something more laid back? Was she squeamish? How did she feel about guns, or horror movies? And so on, and so on.

We determined that platformers and puzzle games would be a good place for her to start, though she was also curious about how games tell stories, and was down with scary stuff. I scrawled out some recommendations in her notebook. If memory serves, I suggested Portal, Braid, Fez, Sword & Sworcery, The Walking Dead, Osmos, and — provided that she could find a friend with a PS3 — Journey.

There were a number of considerations that went into picking those titles. They had to be things she could play on her existing computer. I needed simple UIs and mechanics that were quick to pick up, but still offered a good challenge. I wanted to introduce her to the wide range of mental states games can facilitate, from the mellow flow of Osmos, to the cold-sweat intensity of The Walking Dead. I wanted games that would make her laugh and cry and think.

I would’ve used those criteria for any beginner, but her gender did make me quietly factor in one additional thing: they had to be games in which she would feel welcome.

This wasn’t difficult, given the genres I was considering. If she had wanted to start with shooters, RPGs, or action games, though, I would’ve had to think more carefully. For starters, I wouldn’t have recommended a game with skimpy armor. There are some female gamers who enjoy dressing their characters that way, and that’s totally cool. But generally speaking, a brand new recruit who’s been sold on the idea of adventures and cerebral challenges is probably going to be taken aback if her hero is made to wear a scale mail halter top and hot pants. Similarly, I would not have recommended a game in which women are only there to be rescued and/or to have sex with. I would not have recommended a game with a multiplayer community known for toxic behavior. Then again — okay, I might have done one of those things, if she was looking for something specific, or there was a game I felt she’d enjoy despite some problematic inclusions. But I wouldn’t have recommended it without a warning. I would’ve said something along the lines of, “FYI, the armor in this game is pretty ridiculous. If you play as a female character, you’re not going to be wearing much. A lot of games are like that. It’s just kind of how it is.”

Not exactly the strongest pitch I could make.

That kind of disclaimer is something I’ve only recently noticed in conversations between experienced gamers, even though we do it all the time. My gamer friends and I frequently recommend stuff to each other, but there is one subtle difference in how we go about it. If I’m recommending a game to a male friend, I’ll talk about the mechanics and the story, and that’s it. But if I’m recommending a game to a female friend, or vice versa, there is almost always a mention of how women are portrayed within the game, if at all (and to be fair, some of my male friends also do this when recommending a game to me). This is different than a full-blown discussion of gender portrayal, which any of my friends might take part in. What I’m talking about is a casual footnote, mentioned while persuading a female player to buy the game. At some point during the playthrough, the person recommending the game will have experienced a moment in which she (or he) felt uncomfortable or annoyed, and feels obligated to give a heads-up to someone who might feel the same way. We do this without thinking much about it. It’s just a courtesy.

After the warning is given, the person will say something like, “y’know, video games,” and both parties will shrug with resignation, and go back to talking about mechanics. No big deal, right? Well, actually, yes. It shows an important distinction in how experienced gamers approach the medium. Women who regularly play more complex games, especially in the AAA category or across multiple genres, are used to impractical armor and characters that leave us wanting. This isn’t our first time at the rodeo. But that doesn’t mean we’re always willing to put up with it. We pay attention to how women are presented in marketing material, in everything from trailers to box art. We read industry news, and we listen to how developers talk about their characters. We consider other players’ impressions of how women are treated in specific multiplayer games. We weigh the appeal of the gameplay against how much we have to overlook or steel ourselves against. Our boundaries vary, but we all make our purchasing decisions based on which side comes out on top.

Casual gamers and newcomers, on the other hand, aren’t going to roll with the punches as easily. And they’re the important ones in this discussion, because those of us who have stuck around a particular genre regardless of its problems are already established within the market. If the goal is to widen the net — and we’re talking for the sake of cash money here, not fairness — a lot of games aren’t helping.

So what kind of games do women want? I have no idea. I don’t like the same stuff as some women. My friends and I don’t always like the same stuff. Some of us like fast combat, others don’t. Some like being social, others don’t. Some like PvP, others don’t. This isn’t about genre, or mechanics, or whether a game has a female protagonist. As far as purchasing choices go, we don’t need to play as women. Out of curiosity, I did a quick count just of the games in my Steam library. Out of one hundred and six games (not all of which have a player character, mind you), twenty four offered me a choice of protagonist gender. Only nine had a female protagonist, which is misleading, as five of them represented two characters (Lara Croft and Chell). That’s a bit troubling from a cultural standpoint, but business-wise, a lack of female characters clearly hasn’t prevented me from spending money. If I bought only games in which I could play as a woman, I wouldn’t get to play much at all. To most female gamers, gender inclusion is a benefit, not a dealbreaker. What we’re asking for is very simple: games that don’t make us feel unwelcome, and games we can recommend to our friends without reservation.

There are lots of ways you can go about achieving that. Think about how your NPCs talk to and about women. Think about how your protagonist talks to and about women. Offer identical armor sets (or at least a choice between practical and sexy). Offer romance options of all genders. Look at how the camera treats male and female characters. Enforce good behavior in your multiplayer community, as best you can. Not only do these things ease the barrier of entry for newcomers, but they make us veterans feel like we matter. We’re no longer the bastard children, without a name or a title. We’re feasting in the main hall, pinning the family crest to our doublets! (I’ve been playing a lot of fantasy-themed stuff lately). We may be accustomed to the status quo, but if we find something in which we’re treated with equal respect — both as characters and as players — we’re going to tell our friends to play it. Loudly. Aggressively. We’ll do the advertising for you, and still throw down our wallets for DLC. We’re suckers that way.

None of this is to say that developers have to consider their female audience. I obviously hope they do, but people are allowed to tell stories as they please. If a dev says, “You know, not having breasts spilling out of this armor is cramping my artistic vision,” then by all means, go for it. That dev probably knows they have a niche audience, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re free to foster whatever kind of environment they want. But for those who want a bigger slice of the pie, who want to know how they can bring in more of that 45%, it’s worth stopping to think about how your game is going to look to the women playing it.

As for the claim that the 45-46% statistics aren’t relevant because most women “only” play casual games — I dislike a number of the implications that go along with that, but honestly, I can’t comment on its accuracy. It’s true that women make up the majority of the casual market, but that’s different than saying that the majority of all women gamers exclusively play casual games (not that there’s anything wrong with those that do). As far as I know, there are no overarching statistics on genre preferences for women (if there are, do send them my way). I can find player stats for individual games or types of mechanics, but nothing that sheds light on what women as a whole are currently buying and playing. At this point, all anyone’s got is anecdotal evidence.

Let’s say, though, for the sake of argument, that most women in that 45% are only playing casual stuff. I think again of my new friend, who thought she didn’t have gaming experience. She did. She had games on her iPhone. “I don’t know if that counts,” she said. Oh yes, it counts. Some may scoff at mobile games, but they’re a great gateway drug. A person who “only” plays on their phone has already joined the party. They know about strategy. They know about solving puzzles. They know about leveling up. If they like what they’re playing on their phone, there’s a decent chance they’re interested in branching out, just as my friend was. All it takes is for them to feel like the larger world of gaming is a place that will welcome them. Those of us who are already here are happy to be ambassadors. We just need good stuff to offer. And we do have some good stuff, and our selection is increasing by the year. But we can always, always use more.

Becky Chambers is a freelance writer and a full-time geek. Like most internet people, she has a website. She can also always be found on Twitter.

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  • Anonymous

    I think you’ll enjoy David Gaider’s GDC speech this year then on inclusiveness and sexism in games (here via Gamasutra): http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/194571/Video_Sexism_and_sexuality_in_games.php

  • Anonymous

    When the gaming talks about the problem of selling games to women, I think about this Simpsons quote:
    “Doctor, we tried nothing and we don’t know what to do!”

  • Anonymous

    We could put them on pink discs I suppose…

  • Anonymous

    What, you mean that hasn’t been tried? Because I’m pretty sure it’s the standard approach for just about every other marketable item…

    http://www.pinkgun.com/

  • Amanda Feijoo

    All I can say is at least things are happening. It may take a few years before there is a decent market for women in games but Im hopeful. Ive always dreamed of making a Street Fighter style Disney Princess game.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it has been done, there has been pink boxes, pink consoles, and pink controllers but not the actual discs…

    You know, an EA exec just saw that idea and got a pay increase from it. Yep.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I love how we’re derided as “casual” gamers, even though WE are the ones that take our games with us wherever we go, while the “hardcore” gamers are the ones who only play under certain set conditions(at home, sexual desires catered to). Who sounds more hardcore about their gaming to you?

  • Anonymous

    I think Fable handles the wardrobe appropriately. You can dress your protagonist in women or men’s clothing (regardless of their gender) and you can have your protagonist marry whomever they want. The gameplay is slow enough that you can (almost) always run away. And, in the later games, you can play as a man or a woman.

  • Anonymous

    The weird thing is that I’ve seen the term casual get so distorted that it loses all meaning. When you’re talking to someone that genuinely tries to define Mass Effect and Skyrim* as casual, it’s time to give in.

    *Said person was trying to explain why those games had a strong female fanbase.

  • Anonymous

    What? That’s crazy. Skyrim is definitely an intense, lifestyle-altering game (which is why I haven’t played yet…I’m busy, damnit.)

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    What I love is that you can take Becky’s recommendations on how to market to women and apply it to comics, too.

  • malkavian

    Skyrim, casual? The hundred hours I’ve put into it so far (and I’m not even done with the main quest!) say otherwise.

  • Melynda

    What is even casual gaming anymore? I think the term has lost a lot of meaning. As for games, I recommend them if I enjoy them. I wouldn’t deny someone a good game because of unrealistic fantasy armor or butt-focused camera angles. It would be nice to have more female protagonists and as far as I’m concerned in RPGs there’s absolutely no excuse to have male-only selections in character creation. It’s a shame that the gaming world is so slow to realize that they have a huge opportunity with female gamers, but they also know we won’t stop playing.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “Some people were dismissive, claiming that most women gamers are “only” playing casual games”

    As opposed to all the frat guys just playing another round of Halo or Madden? Nah, just sounds like typical geek-gatekeeping to me: “We’re nerdier, and therefor more worthy, than you because our lives revolve around this.”

  • CMFTW

    The saying “Women ONLY play casual games” is as stupid as saying “Men NEVER play casual games”.

    Another thing to consider is, WHY. Are casual games less bias, less male dominant, feminist, neutral? Is it because women feel more welcome in casual games?

    Something to ponder.

  • Anonymous

    Someone once told me that visual novels were casual games. I was like, dude, have you been on tumblr or DeviantArt? People take their visual novels hella seriously.

    (I mean honestly, there are many different genres of “games” and they all have different mechanics. Lack of real-time action doesn’t equate to casualness, and vice-versa. See also: CoD players.)

  • Ashe

    They’re HARDCORE about their prejudice

  • Ashe

    “Our geekery is better than your geekery.”

    And the cycle of exclusion, hilariously born from people who likely grew up excluded themselves, continues.

  • Mina

    Yes! I want this too.

  • Roberta

    Don’t forget the controllers with the softer, smaller design for our delicate hands.

  • Roberta

    Oddly enough, Blizzard thinks my 15 bucks a month as a casual gamer is worth the same as a hard-core one.

  • Canisa

    Plus, y’know, we stick around in gaming despite it sometimes being intensely hostile towards us. We stick around because despite the frequent bullshit that gets hurled in our face, *we still love games*!

    Meanwhile male ‘hardcore’ gamers get their desires exclusively and excessively catered to, despite which a large number of them will threaten to jump ship the moment it looks like someone other than them is going to get even a little bit of attention.

  • SmokeyPSD

    Whenever a survey like this comes out game “journalists” immediately pounce and state but they aren’t really playing “our” games or real games so we can ignore these findings.

    Utterly ridiculous.

  • Fallenlords

    I can’t play a game if it has a female toon, I just end up staring at their ass or boobs. Trying to find obscure camera angles for a better view (yes I am that sad). Overall I am chauvinist when it comes to most things, especially women encroaching into predominately male orientated arenas and then … moaning.

    Thinking back all those years when gaming first started, I just can’t remember women being that interested. Technology as a whole was not of much interest to most women. My first computer class at college we had two girls out of a class of around thirty. One of those dropped out. Women were not excluded from that area, they just at the time (as a whole) had little interest.

    Fine things change, women are into gaming and technology now. That’s fine, but you have to look at the origins of a thing when you look at its current standing. It started from a predominately male orientated background. Coming late to the party kind of means you are going to have a minimal impact.

    You also need to think about defining a ‘gamer’. I don’t consider a gamer to be somebody that plays casual games on an iPhone/iPad etc. I doubt 45% of true ‘gamers’ are women I would imagine it’s a lot less, perhaps 10-15% if not lower. Out of those as well I imagine a lot play MMO’s.

    I don’t think women as a gender have really paid their dues as far as gaming is concerned. Like most predominately male pastimes … women are encroaching and complaining.

  • jenna mcna

    Encroaching and complaining, like when they were trying to get the vote, right bro? Women, huh? They’re probably all on their period or some shit, yo.

  • Fallenlords

    Yep encroaching and complaining, if it’s not about games not being tailored for women and all the nuances. It’s about taking grief in the online world of gaming from men. Just get on with it or do something to change it. Drop this perception that it’s men that need to change in order to accommodate women.

  • http://www.gamentrade.com/ GameNTrade Ltd.

    Alot of our customers for the retro and classic games is women. We recognize female gamers and they are awesome in the industry. Nice written article it was a good read.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    I don’t understand, and believe me I am trying to understand, what do you believe is “doing something to change it”. It certainly doesn’t sound like you wish women to use their voices and be upset at being singled out for their gender, so are you advising women who wish to play video games and be treated equally have their voice lowered for online play? That way they can be perceived as men and then all problems are solved?

    “get on with it” what is the world does that mean? Lay down and wait for it to be over? It sounds like your perception of women and women gamers is a poorly self created stereotyped of the women you know in your life who obsess over Candy Crush. So to further disprove your single minded and unsearched beliefs if you would like look up my gamer tag on xbox live EVILDARTHBETTY. And then tell me that women have not paid their “dues” in gaming whatever that means.
    WOW seems a reputable game to put hours into, so you will have to explain that one to me as well.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    Are you a video game imposter? I mean…do you actually play them? Or do you watch others play? Perhaps, you just read internet articles and learn about games through other peoples opinions without learning for yourself.

    Go play Bioshock Infinite on 1997 mode and come back and tell us how pointless Elizabeth is. She isn’t important because she’s a woman, she’s important because you would be dead without her. She stays out of your way, she gives you ammo and opens dimensional objects for you. You poor thing. The fact that she is a women is secondary.

    The idea that you don’t get that, makes it pointless to even really argue with you about gaming because I doubt you seriously play. So, I am sorry for doing that.

  • Anonymous

    Fallenlords, how back in the day are we talking? If we’re talking anecdotally, I’ve been playing video games since I was a little girl. My mom got her 2nd BA in programming in 85 (and she was not the only girl graduate in the program). My aunts were programming with punch-cards in the super early computing days. My grandma designed a fighter-pilot cockpit in WWII.

    The women in my family were actively pushed out of tech – my grandma lost her job and became a home-maker post WWII, my aunts jobs were restructured, my mom is still a programmer–but she’s had to put up with a lot. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t pursued a tech career. The percentage of women in tech fields is actually dropping per Taulbee Survey via Wikipedia. In the mid 80′s women made up 37% of comp-sci grads, and in 2011 they made up 12%.

    But that’s almost besides the point because this statement, “Coming late to the party kind of means you are going to have a minimal impact.,” would only be true if the party is ending. It’s like being in 1910 and saying color film is coming late to the party, so it’s going to have a minimum impact in filming history. Yeah by 1910 or 1915 color had minimal impact in filming, but 100 years later it’s dominating the market. Or like pre-french revolution that democracy won’t have an impact because it’s always been monarchy. Regardless if women haven’t been interested till now (which you believe) or women have always been present, if not always welcome (which I believe) the future starts now. Things can change very drastically.

  • Laszlo

    So you think that having women in any game is just an attempt at pleasing feminists? And they aren’t allowed to complain, because just the thought is enough, doesn’t matter how shittily it’s done. But they’re also aren’t allowed to appreciate them, because that means they aren’t talking about the gameplay, because apparently you can’t do both. But of course, you’re allowed to complain, or talk about this, which doesn’t seem to be about gameplay.

  • Fallenlords

    If you want to change things, women need get into game development and influence things at source (still a predominantly male occupation I believe). Which is what I mean about do something about it. The reason 85% of game characters are male has a lot to do with who is making the games.

    Basically you have a sub culture that hasn’t happened overnight, it’s been going for years and years. What I personally find annoying is that everything within that subculture is somehow suppose to change or be tamed now that females are becoming involved. To my mind you either embrace it or you don’t. Will games change to cater for the tastes of women, yeah eventually I imagine. Should games target a specific gender, no I don’t think so.

    I don’t have much experience of female gamers, ones I have encountered have mainly been in MMO’s. And listening to the women talking about which outfit shows enough side boob just shows men are women are different. I personally don’t want something like Call of Duty switching it’s focus to shoes rather guns, just to get females interested.

    Every gamer to my mind has to earn their stripes. The negative banter, the put-downs it’s all part of gaming. Most female gamers hide on-line, don’t make their gender known and don’t take a stand. Which is why I say ‘get on with it’ fight your corner if you want to be heard. But don’t do it from the sidelines, be in the thick of it.

  • Peter Ondracek

    I think it’s telling that the only two female protagonists I’m aware of whose games are analysed as games and not social commentary on women, were Metroid and Portal. Coincidence that the characters also aren’t identifiable as women for much of the game, or something more?

  • Laszlo

    “And listening to the women talking about which outfit shows enough side boob just shows men are women are different. I personally don’t want something like Call of Duty switching it’s focus to shoes rather guns, just to get females interested.”
    Yeah, obviously men only care about guns and gameplay, no man ever said that they like looking at a female character’s breast and ass, especially not right here in this comment section.
    Seriously thogh, not to say there’s anything wrong with that, just don’t be a hypocrite.

  • Marian Hilliard

    Is Left 4 Dead a “casual” game? Cus I’ve played 739 hours of that, according to my Steam profile. =P

  • Laszlo

    Oh please, every game is analyzed as a game, and I’m pretty sure that at least Metroid has been analyzed from a feminist perspective.
    Your point is still true though, there is definitely more to the fact that games with female protagonists get analyzed from that perspective. Which is that there’s so few of them that you can’t help but look at it from that angle as well. And don’t say that you don’t do it, that’s exactly what you have been doing in both of your posts.

  • Peter Ondracek

    Really. You’re talking about a design strategy that actively rewards you for bad play as a good design choice.

    Regardless of the fact your AI partner doesn’t get in the way and has a trillion scripted events, she is a storytelling mechanism. You don’t control her actions, issue commands, protect her from damage or interact with her in any meaningful fashion that affects gameplay whatsoever. Huge dev effort on a non gameplay feature for the win?

    If I didn’t read reviews, I’d have no reason to be irritated by a feminist agenda being attached to each and every single one lately. But then I’d be part of the ignorant problem because I wouldn’t be treating women as special and not different at the same time, or something. Frankly, I’m sick of trying to understand the contradictions.

  • Peter Ondracek

    I literally never used to look at it from that perspective. My gender choice in warcraft was purely a function of who had the better voice actor. I played redheaded femshep for no discernable reason whatsoever. I hated gears of war because the bullet spray ruined the game.

    But as paragraph after paragraph started to be devoted to this agenda, and basic details such as FOV sliders or huge crippling issues with lag, online only, drm, or basic gameplay comparisons to equivalent games from the same genre became casualties… Yes. I got hostile and I hope I’m not the only gamer to do so. Of either gender.

  • Laszlo

    Maybe she is a storytelling mechanism, but why the “feminist agenda”? Having a woman in a game is feminist agenda?
    And the developers said multiple times that they’re targeting fratboys and they made it a point to make a “manly” cover where she can’t be seen. So it doesn’t sound like they intended it as a cheap gimmick, it sounds more like they actually had to fight for it.

  • Laszlo

    Don’t try to draw a connection here that doesn’t exist. Most of the games and publishers guilty in these are actively marketing themselves as “manly”, and barely have any kind of female presence. Even games that have it try to hide it in marketing, like Bioshock Infinite or Mass Effect. So no, games aren’t getting worse because they’re catering to feminists.

  • Fallenlords

    I did use the word predominately to describe area that has been male orientated. Their are women involved with football, but I would still perceive it as a predominantly male orientated pastime.

    Women have always been involved with gaming and technology I don’t deny that. But games have evolved as they have due to a predominant male influence. That can not be overlooked. Women have become a more significant part that’s obvious. I am sure games will come around to be more appealing to women in the long term. But it’s not something to expect to happen overnight if at all.

    The video games industry is basically driven by sales. If that figure of 45% of gamers being women is true then I would expect more female friendly AAA titles. I think developers know their demographic, they are going to make titles that suit their audience.

  • Peter Ondracek

    Having a woman in a game is not (should not be) a feminist agenda. Every single review wasting airtime on a feminist analysis of how damsely, autonomous and relevantly dressed she is on the other hand…

    It gets particularly popcorn worthy when I consider that the biggest demographic complaining about a chainmail bikini not being pretty enough or not colour coordinated with set gear, has not been the angry nerd gamer who makes the environment apparently hostile to women.

  • Amber Barnes

    Being in a top world 75 world raiding guild in WoW and beta testing/tanking with then-ranked world third guild also made me a filthy casual to some.

  • Amber Barnes

    But catering to casuals have ruined WoW! *sarcasm*

  • Roberta

    lol, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that, my subscription would be paid in full!

  • Peter Ondracek

    Bayonetta?

    Did the switch to a female protagonist on the front cover make the genre more palatable to women?

    If it did, I’m unaware of the trend. I don’t believe I know a single girl that’s played it. And I know those who range from angry birds, sing star, and dance central through to nethack, HOMM and SC1/2.

  • Amber Barnes

    Coincidentally, Portal and Metroid’s protagonists are essentially genderless or implied to be male. They’re “safe” because even if the protags are women, the game does absolutely nothing to assert an identity for them.

  • Fallenlords

    One of the other reason I didn’t like the new Tomb Raider was because one moment I had this woman crying about killing a deer and the next moment she is killng a load of men without so much as a quibble. The narrative of that story made me think too much about gender that it became overwhelming. That to me was the fault of the storytelling within the game.

    What video games need to accommodate is the difference between the genders. Not target one specifically.

  • Laszlo

    I don’t think gaming journalists matter that much to publishers or average buyers outside of review scores, though. And feminism doesn’t seem to matter too much when it comes to that, or at least I’m pretty sure that lots of games criticized in that aspect still got mostly positive reviews.

  • Amber Barnes

    Summary: I’m a self-proclaimed chauvanist sexualizes even pixelated women and I’m mad that my super special treehouse is being invaded by them and now I’m going to engage in some gatekeeping about how they need to “pay their dues” while ignoring how women have been involved in programming and computer science since its inception. I don’t know how to handle actual women playing games because I’m incapable of seeing them as anything but body parts for me to oogle.

    Your kind of dudebro sexism deserves to have its treehouse destroyed.

  • Peter Ondracek

    What a coincidence, then, that we happen to be on a blog where a woman is telling publishers how to cater to women, and feminism disagrees.

    You’re wrong btw, and I can give further examples (Kickstarter recently anyone?), but this is turning too long for Disqus.

  • Fallenlords

    ‘Your kind of dudebro sexism deserves to have its treehouse destroyed.’

    Why because we all need to be politically correct these days? Try to make out women and men are the same, even when they aren’t. I wouldn’t be prejudiced or discriminate based on a persons sex. But at the same time I acknowledge the differences. I consider gaming to be a predominately male orientated environment. Fair enough things might be changing but they need to change for the right reasons. Not just because some women are on a feminist/sexist trip. Those are the wrong reasons.

  • Anonymous

    The male-focused games has less to do with the invisible hand of the market as much as it has to do with the male-centeric owners of production & beliefs about male being the default neutral.

    Women make up more than half of movie goers, yet only a few movies feature female leads or marketed to a female audience. Women read more books than men, but male authors and male-centeric books are still published, reviewed and promoted more.

    The people in charge of publishing video games, books, and movies make male-centric games regardless of their potential audience for a few reasons. A) They make & produce games that they as guys would like B) They know that girls will play/watch/read their titles with guys characters, but fear that guys cannot play/watch/read with girls characters and that they’ll loose 1/2 their audience. This despite games/movies/books with women as key players doing very well in sales.

    Also, pointing to what has done well in the past is a poor prospect to innovation. Imagine if we were that way with technology instead of gender balance! “8-bit games have sold well, let’s keep making 8-bit games. That’s what the people want!”

  • Laszlo

    “Politically correct” is such a bullshit concept. Expecting people to not be assholes is not some kind of horribly despotic thing, it’s just common decency.
    And what “right reasons”? The fact that there are enough women into gaming that their “complaining” is such a big deal according to you means that there is a market there. There’s no need for any other reason.

  • Amber Barnes

    This is a female dominated website and comments section. I just don’t feel that men have really been paid their dues enough to be allowed to post here. Men thinking they have the same amount of rights to be involved in conversations on the internet is just not the right reason to let them post here. Of course, I’m not going to disclose what I think are the right reasons, or how many “dues” must be paid.

  • Laszlo

    “What a coincidence, then, that we happen to be on a blog where a woman is telling publishers how to cater to women, and feminism disagrees.”
    I’m not sure what you mean by that. Like you mean there’s something wrong with this article? It’s not complaining about anything, nor asking publishers to go out of their way, just simply says that a market is there, they just need to notice it. Or are you saying that the usual feminist gaming writers aren’t like this, and they are the ones doing it wrong?

  • Fallenlords

    Put as you are talking about a male dominated arena…

  • Amber Barnes

    So since you haven’t balked at my proposal, you’re willing to leave this website and never post here until we – the undefined, nebulous, feminist collective that is represented by myself – decide you’ve earned your posting privileges if we agree to the same thing about games?

  • Peter Ondracek

    >I don’t think gaming journalists matter that much to publishers or average buyers

    The entire article is tiptoeing around the point that women constitute average buyers and that the suggestions for change are therefore relevant.

    >It’s not complaining about anything, nor asking publishers to go out of
    their way,

    >Think about how your NPCs talk to and about women. Think about how your protagonist
    talks to and about women. Offer identical armor sets (or at least a
    choice between practical and sexy). Offer romance options of all
    genders. Look at how the camera treats male and female characters. …

    Yep, certainly looks like that’s not asking publishers to go out of their way or anything. /sarcasm

    The point I’m making is that it’s dangerous territory to tread whenever any publisher includes women, sexuality, cis/transgender or, indeed, sets a game in Africa. Because white cis (god I hate that word) males are the only group that won’t go searching for a reason to be offended.

  • Peter Ondracek

    And the real irony icing on the cake, is that I can come up with well-selling games that legitimately offended and slipped beneath the radar (Godhand Mr Gold & Silver anyone?). Because white/asian cis males have been dominating this as an entertainment medium for the last 30 years, regardless of who wants to claim that there is no representation disparity.

    It’s only because gaming is becoming more mainstream that other groups are even getting enough visibility to become offended.

    I guess the best I can hope for, is that 30 years from now, self-identifying ‘minorities’ will become as entrenched and disinterested with becoming dramallamas as the ‘hardcore gamers’ are today. But in my experience, that’s not a natural endpoint for political correctness to reach.

  • Fallenlords

    I wish I had never posted here… so gladly I would be willing to leave the website and never post again until the feminist collective have decided I earned the right to post. Can you make it around 2052 or sometime later..

    By that time they may start catering for female gamers :)

  • Amber Barnes

    Awesome. Bye.

  • Fallenlords

    Video games companies aren’t in a vacuum. They will produce a product to fill a market. I just don’t think there is much of a market there. There might be for ipad type games, but for full on big budget titles … I don’t think so. And obviously the gaming industry doesn’t think so..

  • Laszlo

    “Yep, certainly looks like that’s not asking publishers to go out of their way or anything.”
    Well, yeah, it really isn’t. Those are very simple things.

    “Because white cis (god I hate that word) males are the only group that won’t go searching for a reason to be offended.”
    Haha, yeah, right. A bunch of straight male nerd communities can get extremely butthurt over the idea that their shit might be marketed to women as well. Like Warhammer fans get butthurt over anyone mentioning female Space Marines, animufans get butthurt over “fujoshi-pandering”, shit like that.

  • RC_cola

    “I can’t play a game if it has a female toon, I just end up staring at their ass or boobs. Trying to find obscure camera angles for a better view (yes I am that sad). Overall I am chauvinist when it comes to most things…”

    Hmmmm, do you think maybe this kind of attitude had something to do with why those two women dropped out?

  • Laszlo

    You say that now, but I bet other times you whine about how the gaming industry is getting “casualized” and they only target “CoD kiddies”. That’s the exact same thing, they think that only that certain audience is worth being catered to, it doesn’t matter if they outright offend other groups. Well, I’m pretty sure they’re wrong in both cases.

  • Beverly Ann Nelms

    I’m waiting to find games I can play. I love old school scifi, but have lupus and inflammatory arthritis in my hands. As I’ve lost use of my hands I can’t play games that call for speed or fine motor control. I haven’t played games since Galaga. (Yes, I’m old.) I’ve given up adrenalin for puzzles, and I usually just go to “Choice of Games” to play. Are there any resources for geezers who are of the age that we were frozen out of gaming?

  • Laszlo

    “By that time they may start catering for female gamers :)”
    You seriously believe that? You’re pretty delusional then. Most “nerdy” forms of entertainment have a pretty huge female audience nowadays, fantasy literature and movies, TV shows, anime, whatnot, I seriously doubt gaming is going to be far behind.

  • mike j

    I started gaming in the 80′s and games themselves weren’t identified as either hardcore or casual, rather if they were easy or hard. Hardcore was always viewed as about the time spent per day or week. For political reasons the meanings have changed in recent years.

    I remember reading a study many years ago saying women were actually more hardcore than male gamers, because women were putting in 40+ hours a week into various flash based games. In my eyes, that kind of time investment makes you a hardcore gamer regardless of the type of game played.

    To answer your question, if that 739 hours is spread out over several years, averaging one or 2 hours a day, then I would classify you as a casual gamer. The game itself cant and shouldn’t be classified as either.

  • mike j

    There is no such thing as casual or hardcore games. Those labels should only be applied to players.

  • Laszlo

    The first thing that comes to mind right now is FTL. It’s a pretty small, but deep game, you manage a starship, you can pause anytime, so it doesn’t require quickness.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    It’s not always like that. Can you honestly say that these statistics aren’t at least skewed by the causal market?

    I mean, It’s not like I’m portraying the casual market as “less worthy” by saying this. That really isn’t my intention. There’s nothing i’d love more than if the gaming audience was equally represented in every conceivable way, but I honestly think it isn’t.

    I get that the word “casual” is used in a negative way quite often, but not all of us are like that. The reality I see is that a lot of people who almost exclusively play casual games do not consider themselves gamers, or “geeky” or anything of the sort. It’s not a “hobby” for them, it’s just something they “waste time on”. They don’t visit sites like this one, enter discussions or anything like that. Their interest in games doesn’t go beyond getting one off the app store for a buck and trying it out.

    If and when they come to the point where they start considering themselves gamers, I’ll welcome them with open arms.

    Again, I’m not trying to say anyone here is outright wrong, I’m just saying not everyone is bad as some people here portray them.

  • mike j

    You could be in the worst ranked guild, but if you are putting 5-6 hours a day playing, then you are a hardcore gamer.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    You’re here, discussing gaming topics online. You aren’t a casual gamer.

    When I call someone a “casual gamer” I’m not trying to insult them, I’m trying to say “this person plays games, but doesn’t consider themself a gamer. They don’t go beyond playing a random game. They don’t go online, follow up on gaming news, take part in gaming discussions. Gaming is no more important to them than playing poker is for me”.

    Now, if ESA doesn’t count these people as gamers, then that means the statistics are actually not skewed at all, which is great news, because it means almost half of all gamers are women.

    Again, “gamers” and “casual gamers” in the sense that I categorize them.

  • Amber Barnes

    I think that’s the problem. The connotation that casual = unskilled, when really casual only really denotes the time dedicated to the game. Hardcore players can be completely horrible – and I’ve met more than a few like that – while casual players can be very skilled, or have the potential to be very skilled if they dedicated the time to the game. And unfortunately, both the player base AND the developers have taken this attitude to heart and design.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Which isn’t exactly the point at all, is it. That 46% of game buyers who are women are dismissed off the cuff as “casual gamers.” Their money spends just as well. They may not call themselves “gamers.” They may only see games as a pastime and not a hobby–which makes them not all that different from most folks who played Mario and the like back in the day. It was just something fun to do for a while, not an identifier.

    There’s no score in those stats to test for whether the people bought every zombie game that ever came out or if they just picked up Wii Fit. Because it’s not relevant to the discussion. Women buy video games. Ideally, marketers would try to figure out how to make women (and men. And children) buy MORE video games.

  • Beverly Ann Nelms

    Thank you! I’ll check it out!

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    So the discussion is purely about marketing then?

    Because, if and when I say “but a lot of those women only buy casual games / play casually”, I’m not saying their money doesn’t count. I’m saying it’s not as great as it sounds. The core gaming audience is still very much male dominated. I’m not being dismissive, I’m saying it can and needs to be better than it is right now.

    To me, using stats like “45% of gamers are women” sounds like “OK, we won!”. It’s still very far from that point in gaming.

  • Anonymous

    What would be the right reasons?

  • Anonymous

    I’m a woman and have played Bayonetta. Nice to meet you.

    * Meeting-Girl-Who-Played-Bayonetta-achievement unlocked.

  • CMFTW

    ROFLMAO! He just got PWNED! xD

  • Anonymous

    Left for Dead 4 came out in October 18, 2008 in North America, or 1709 days ago. Assuming that Marian bought the game it came out and played it everyday, it averages about 26 minutes a day over 4.7 years. Even if that’s the only game she has played in nearly 5 years, that to me still seems like a lot of time every day.

    Related question, but how many hours do you need to play a day to be hardcore?

  • Anonymous

    I assume the same reason why they don’t want to make games for women, is because of the same reason there are no good movies for women. If they don’t sell its the women’s fault and they never want to try again. But if a guy game doesn’t sell they just keep trying to sell it over and over rehashing it until it does.

  • Anonymous

    I will play that game.

  • Fallenlords

    That was the sort of right of passage I was talking about, putting in the hours. To my mind you don’t get the title gamer just because you play games. You kind of have to earn it. People view noobs as gamers, I don’t. They are noobs until they earn their stripes.

    Games like Angry Birds to me aren’t proper games, they are distractions. You could theoretically be a gamer if you played those games. But I wouldn’t include people who only played those sort of games in the definition of a gamer.

    Sorry Amber just had to comment…. :(

  • Anonymous

    Why are you still here?

  • Anonymous

    Something like SFSignal’s flowchart for NPR’s scifi/fantasy would be super hot.

  • Anonymous

    How wonderful it must be, to live through your validity prisim :) It’s like those Little Sisters in Bioshock….the world is so beautiful, and all those dead people are really fallen angels.

  • Anonymous

    Sad truth, right there.

  • Anonymous

    So you are a Gatekeeper of Games…how precious.

  • Anonymous
  • Simon Chui

    “If I’m recommending a game to a male friend, I’ll talk about the mechanics and the story, and that’s it. But if I’m recommending a game to a female friend, or vice versa, there is almost always a mention of how women are portrayed within the game, if at all (and to be fair, some of my male friends also do this when recommending a game to me). ”

    Wait, why don’t you tell your male friends about how women are portrayed in games? I don’t speak for other guys, but I’m a guy and I would want to know if it was problematic. Should your male friends not care whether you consider the way a game portrays women is inappropriate? I thought we were trying to move to a point where males do care and would do something about it.

    Imagine if I thought a movie was racist and exploitative of black people, and I warn my black friends about it, but I figure my white friends would all be ok with it. That’s not right, they shouldn’t be ok with it. They should be angry about it. I would want/expect my white friends to come back and say to me, “you didn’t notice that movie was complete racist BS?”

  • Amber Barnes

    Sorry, but as the ultimate authority of this website, I distinctly remember telling you you haven’t earned your posting privileges.

    Be gone, fool.

  • Ashe

    Remember that you’re in the minority: most men don’t give a shit about sexism. That’s how their privilege works. If they don’t care, don’t ‘see it’, don’t ‘see the problem’, or, even worse, LIKE it?

    It stays.

    I tell my male friends at every single opportunity if I find something sexist. I learned a while ago that the more vocal you are about the unfair way society treats you, the more you’ll alienate bigots and assholes. I’ve made people uncomfortable around me, even dislike me, for being vocal about my oppression.

    Instead of criticizing a woman for being too plain tired to deal with sexist pricks day in and day out, use your male privilege to make it easier on us. Talk to your male friends about sexism, make them uncomfortable, shame them for their behavior, do all the things we try to do, but get ignored for.

    That is a way you can help a great deal.

  • Ashe

    Going to second this: FTL is pretty fun!

  • Ashe

    It’s male-oriented because they routinely dismissed, excluded and ignored women who tried to participate.

    That’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    “Women don’t play games! Oh shit, these women are coming in wanting to play games… I’m going to call them slurs, harass them with quizzes that I wouldn’t give my male friends, hit on them whether they want me to or not, tease them, mock them, ignore them, talk over them, interrupt them and generally treat them as inferior!

    What? Now they’re leaving?

    I always knew women didn’t play games!”

  • Ashe

    I love how you think that men driving the industry is just some natural thing that occurs unconsciously and benignly, like weather formations, or ocean patterns.

    You don’t seem like someone who asks ‘why’ very often.

  • Ashe

    I love how you think that men driving the industry is just some natural thing that occurs unconsciously and benignly, like weather formations, or ocean patterns.

    You don’t seem like someone who asks ‘why’ very often.

  • Ashe

    Uh, men do need to change.

    Men need to stop limiting, harassing, excluding, ignoring and demeaning women at every point and turn. Women didn’t invent systemic sexism, last I checked.

    Way to put the responsibility on the wrong people, bro.

  • Ashe

    LOL

  • Ashe

    I played Bayonetta. So has my friend. She’s a girl, too!

  • Ashe

    Uh, why do you hate the word ‘cis’?

  • Simon Chui

    Oh I do talk to boys and men about gender problems in gaming. I don’t get the opportunity to shame my friends for sexism, though, because I don’t keep sexist pricks as friends. You really think I would have the nerve to write that comment if I wasn’t doing my part?

    I don’t think we disagree about the need to keep bringing this up with people as long as the problems are there. The author didn’t really explain why she didn’t bring it up with her male friends, though, and “being too plain tired” is still not doing something that really should be done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to push people into fights that they’re not prepared for, but I think anyone who sees what’s going on should agree with the principle of making an effort to point it out to those who don’t, as you say you do.

  • Ashe

    Welcome to a site where gamers don’t care what categories you put them into.

  • Colin Bell

    It kind of is the entire point, actually…

    Taking gender and the inherent sexism of the “girls only play casual games” assumption totally out of the equation, if a study ever considers someone a “gamer” without specifying what they play, from a Marketing standpoint in the gaming industry there’s no way for anyone to know that the specific chunk of people we’re addressing are even close to your demographic. Even if the study was gamers vs. non-gamers, the assumption “A lot of that is probably casual gaming” still stands, simply because the way the information is framed without specifics – it intends to show a certain market is larger than typically perceived, but does nothing to prove its actual relevance. In this particular case, the point happens to be “girls play games too”, but not specifying *which* games they play does nothing to prove their interest in the games being discussed.

    However, if the information drilled down into specifics, such as “45% of people who played Portal (or another award-winning title that appeals to a wide demographic) are women” or even “45% of women said they would want to play (game genre)” – THAT would be worthy of their attention, because then it’s obvious that the interest is there. It leaves no room for personal bias, assumptions, or any kind of dismissal.

    I absolutely agree that games typically assume only men are playing them, and I absolutely agree that game companies should be more inclusive and broaden their marketing efforts to accomodate the market. However, in this example, the statistics are hurting the point by not being specific enough.

  • Ashe

    Uh, yeah! Actually, yes. Some guys will talk a lot of smack and do none of the heavy lifting on their side of the feminist field. All I can go off of on your comment is your word, really.

    And still you’re putting responsibility on the author for ‘still not doing something that really should be done’. That’s not okay.

    She’s dealing with it in a way she feels is most productive: writing about it on a feminist site and getting feedback from other feminists. I can’t blame her in the least for not always wanting to be on the Educating Pedestal that is so often the responsibility of the oppressed group.

    Men need to stop expecting us to ‘just speak louder!’ and start listening. We’re already doing all we can: it’s the responsibility of you and your group to respond in kind.

    Just because I do doesn’t mean my way is the right way; it’s just one of many.

  • Ashe

    Approximately 12 hours per day. You are allowed to go to the bathroom only two times. Any more than two and you are prioritizing your basic bodily functions over your videogame and that is not hardcore.

  • Peter Ondracek

    Nice to meet you.

    Did the presence of a woman on the cover make that happen?

    Was the fact the protagonist is a woman even relevant to your choice to play the game?

  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    “Women read more books than men, but male authors and male-centeric books are still published, reviewed and promoted more.”
    Doesn’t that depend on genre and whatnot? IIRC, female authors are dominant in the genres of romance and fantasy whereas male writers are more dominant in the genres of science fiction and historical fiction. I may get it wrong, though, so feel free to correct me.

  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    “Women read more books than men, but male authors and male-centeric books are still published, reviewed and promoted more.”
    Doesn’t that depend on genre and whatnot? IIRC, female authors are dominant in the genres of romance and fantasy whereas male writers are more dominant in the genres of science fiction and historical fiction. I may get it wrong, though, so feel free to correct me.

  • Erica M.

    Why can I only like this once? ;)

  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    Well, there is Skullgirls or Arcana Hearts for now? Haven’t played them, but I guess they kinda fit that description.

  • Erica M.

    Trying to figure out what a ‘casual’ gamer is seems like a waste of time and splitting hairs to me. A gaming company should want to sell games to all gamers, casual or not. Selling more would make them more money, right? So what is the problem? Why the insistence and dismissal of ‘casual’ and the percentage of women in which category, wherever they may fall as a gamer. I for one, would embrace a large a market as possible. Those casual games that people waste time with on their phones are much easier and cost effective to make. Why not make a bunch of those for extra cash, grab in those casual people and put in ads about how if you like this game, you would love the full version on the (insert gaming console). Bam, if they’re interested they just might go out and buy the bigger, more expensive game and be both a casual and hardcore gamer at the same time, or continue playing the cheap .99 games, but you know that’s still extra $money$ either way. I don’t understand why this concept is so hard or so resisted.

  • Roberta

    “Like most predominately male pastimes … women are encroaching and complaining.”

    We are angry because is nearly every institution is either male-dominated by numbers or simply patriarchal. Religion, education, politics, entertainment, science, fashion, law, and yes, games, are part of the patriarchy. There are very few places that are egalitarian or matriarchal. So we want to break down these walls and become welcome participants in gaming, along with everything else.

    Then asshats come along who see us, see that we can contribute and change things (sometimes for the better, oddly enough), and they get scared. We see the current standing, as you put it, and we want to say that shit will not fly when it is sexist, homophobic, and transphobic. So what do these boys do? They throw stones, say no girls allowed. Tits AND Get the F*** Out.

    “I don’t think women as a gender have really paid their dues as far as gaming is concerned”. What dues would these be? The millions of dollars in games we invest in? The hours doing cosplay, analyzing plots, creating fandom work? The support we give companies? Or is it that we need to flash you so we can play The Last of Us without you assuming we are casual.

    TLDR: You sound scared of women approaching your clubhouse. If you are misogynistic, you damn well should be.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    Well, I hope they don’t, because using categories isn’t supposed to be this huge thing, it’s just supposed to be useful in certain cases.

  • Travis

    Agreed. Putting the person who has beaten every Final Fantasy game on the same list as a person who owns an Xbox purely for Call of Duty and Sportsball or some Farmville addict gives you a pretty meaningless statistic.

    Show me the demographics of people who spent more than an hour watching this year’s E3 coverage.

  • Fallenlords

    Sorry I am just not into all this equality BS on your terms. For example looking at Wimbeldon starting tomorrow, big uproar a few years ago about equality and pay. Top female stars not getting the same as the men. So they changed it. But did they make the women play 5 sets compared to the 3 they were playing before, no. So how is that equal?

    Just because geek culture is now ‘in fashion’ all of sudden we have all these geek women. So the long term standing joke about a geek was that they were more interested in their computer than a woman, part of the reason for that was because they couldn’t get a woman. According to you lot, geeks should have be inundated with women over the years. Because women were all very much part of the subculture.

    I have fond memories of standing outside the queue of the local game shop, waiting to buy the next SNK Neo Geo release. Talking to all the women that were queuing with me about their passion for gaming … not. Actually probably at that time I would of gone into shock if I had seen a woman there.

    Sorry I am not buying it all. Women are a part of gaming now, I don’t dispute that and I accept that. But I still don’t think women have yet earned the right for the video games industry to pander to them. Something like 20% of all US programmers are women. So unless 50% are chimps, that makes 80% male. You have a digitial divide which is furthermore shown in video games. I suppose it’s the big bad men supressing women from picking up books on programming and pursuing a career in the industry.

    I just don’t buy it, the industry will meet a demand. If 45% of gamers are women, it will fill that demand. Plain and simple. All they are concerned about is their bottom line.

  • Anonymous

    Per NPR,

    ‘Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.

    When it comes to fiction, the gender gap is at its widest. Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market, according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain.

    By this measure, “chick-lit” would have to include Hemingway and nearly every other novel, observes Lakshmi Chaudhry in the magazine In These Times. “Unlike the gods of the literary establishment who remain predominately male—both as writers and critics—their humble readers are overwhelmingly female.” ‘

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14175229

  • Becky Cunningham

    Hey, I have freakish midget hands and appreciate controllers that make them comfortable. Ironically the controller I like best is the current Xbox 360 one, made by the same people who put out the notorious Duke.

  • Becky Cunningham

    It’s been really neat watching Gaider transform over the years from a typical developer who said, “We only put in a single male love interest in Baldur’s Gate II because not enough women play” to being a good ally to gamers of the female/LGBTQ persuasion.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Peter,
    The short answer is yes, the protagonist being a woman was a factor in purchasing & playing Bayonetta.
    That doesn’t really tell you who I am as game consumer. Growing up I played a lot of video games, peaking probably as a teen/young adult with a lot of time & disposable income. When I got married and had a kid, it drastically changed the way I gamed. I played 1o minutes of Plants vs Zombies while waiting for my pasta to boil, or 30 minutes of Tactics Ogre waiting for my oil to get changed, or an hour playing Lego Star Wars with my kid. In short, I played “casual” games that I could squeeze into my day or family friendly games. I like action games like Bayonetta, but when they have adult content and like 20-30 min between save points (although if I remember correctly, you can quicksave with Bayonetta? My 360 got the red ring of death so I haven’t played it lately.) it really cuts into my time. To play Bayonetta I just pretty much didn’t sleep.
    I wanted to play Bayonetta because it’s directed by Hideki Kamiya and because it has had great reviews—but I bought it & played it then instead of waiting till my son grew up and I had more free time (like many other games on my to-play list) because Bayonetta as a campy, over-the-top sexy character appealed to me. I think it’s important to stress though that I don’t think Bayonetta was written to appeal to female players. Bayonetta is a woman because the core game idea is “sexiness”, and having a male character sucking lollipops, blowing kisses and being strategically naked is a hardsell to “cis male gamers” (although honestly I’d have also played that game ASAP).

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Peter,
    The short answer is yes, the protagonist being a woman was a factor in purchasing & playing Bayonetta.

    That doesn’t really tell you who I am as game consumer. Growing up I played a lot of video games, peaking probably as a teen/young adult with a lot of time & disposable income. When I got married and had a kid, it drastically changed the way I gamed. I played 10 minutes of Plants vs Zombies while waiting for my pasta to boil, or 30 minutes of Tactics Ogre waiting for my oil to get changed, or an hour playing Lego Star Wars with my kid. In short, I played “casual” games that I could squeeze into my day or family friendly games. I like action games like Bayonetta, but when they have adult content and like 20-30 min between save points (although if I remember correctly, you can quicksave with Bayonetta? My 360 got the red ring of death so I haven’t played it lately.) it really cuts into my time. To play Bayonetta I just pretty much didn’t sleep.

    I wanted to play Bayonetta because it’s directed by Hideki Kamiya and because it has had great reviews—but I bought it & played it then instead of waiting till my son grew up and I had more free time (like many other games on my to-play list) because Bayonetta as a campy, over-the-top sexy, girly character appealed to me. I think it’s important to stress though that I don’t think Bayonetta was written to appeal to female players. Bayonetta is a woman because the core game idea is “sexiness”, and having a male character sucking lollipops, blowing kisses and being strategically naked is a hardsell to “cis male gamers” (although honestly I’d have also played that game ASAP-so maybe it’s not about gender after all ;) ).

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Shoshana B

    Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is assuming that males never game casually? The idea that factoring casual gaming would OF COURSE make the proportion of women-to-men hugely decrease kind of shows a major bias towards the idea that guys are NATURALLY bigger gamers, which we don’t know to be the case. Because the statistics haven’t factored in casual versus hardcore gaming. It’s possible that it would play out like that, but just assuming it to be fact is kind of incredibly insulting.

  • Anonymous

    I also wanted to comment about cis males that don’t search for reasons to be offended, especially re:that Kickstarter campaign. It seemed to me that many cis males were plenty offended by that Kickstarter project to the point they were committing some pretty severe harassment. That’s not exactly being low-key and hard to offend.

    Also, there’s male critics think video games’ portrayals of men turn boys into killers, like this hilariously bad piece:
    http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/Stories/2012/Dec31/VideoGames.html
    or, you know, crazy-pants Jack Thompson.

    These are extremes, but they are examples of male discontent within & outside of gamer culture.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    Did I give the impression that I’m assuming that? Because I’m not. I mean, I can be pretty sure that males play casually, since I know a whole bunch of them who do.

    My personal experience (so I’m in no way trying to proclaim it as fact) is that females game seriously, or even deal with IT in general to a lesser degree than males, mostly due to the culture, upbringing, society, etc., etc., etc.. It might not be like that in the west, but this is how I and a lot of other people perceive it where I live (Croatia). I don’t like that it is this way, but it looks like it is to me.

    I can’t tell you how many times I was asked “what game should I get for my daughter?” when the only clear answer is “one of the good ones” and all they expect me to say is “there’s this Barbie game here…”

    And again, in my experience, people who own smartphones mostly do play games on these phones. Most people own smartphones these days, male or female, so if most of them are accounted for in the statistics, then the general ratio (as in, everyone who plays any game ever, not just people who consider themselves gamers) is skewed to look like things are more equal than they in fact are.

    Look at it this way. If you have core gamers and there’s 25% of females there (just a random number), and then you have the smartphone/tablet market where it’s closer to 50/50, then the overall statistic will be somewhere between 25 and 50%. It’s skewed, like it or not. It looks like the situation is better than it is.

    I’ll say it again, I look forward to the day when gaming will be like that even in the core category, but I don’t think it is yet. I hope it will be soon, but I don’t think it is. If that’s insulting, I’m willing to at least try and understand why it’s insulting, so please try to explain it to me. I honestly am interested.

  • Sally Strange

    I wish I had never posted here…

    Ze feelink ees mootual, darlink.

  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    Wow, I suppose the best way for the book market to survive is to pandering more to the female readers. I always thought that when it comes to literature, it’s pretty much gender-neutral for the most part. While we have people like Steven King and George R.R. Marin, we also have very competent female writers such as J.K. Rowling (funny enough, I’m probably one of those guys who found enjoyment in reading and writing stories thanks to her books), Kim Houtzager and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

  • Anonymous
  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    I see, but I wonder if it’s just coincidental or if there’s more to it. As an aspiring writer myself I search books that pander to my tastes when it comes to characters, story and thematics. I don’t care much about the gender of the author, but honestly enough most books that I own are written by male authors. Then again they’re also the more famous fantasy novels such as Rune Lords, Wheel of Time, LotR, A Game of Thrones, et cetera.
    But I wonder… is there something we could or should do about this? I mean, I’m all for fantasy writers and game developers getting as much recognition as possible, regardless of gender, because diversity in ideas, stories and content is quite important.

  • Anonymous

    Probably for more than one year, no less.

  • Fran

    that is bulls*it, I’m a woman and I love the regular games, like DMC, COD, BF, skyrim, just BLOODY NORMAL GAMES, I don’t care if the main character is woman or man, don’t care if isn’t pink

  • Mina

    I just can’t believe you’re a real person.

    There is a real person that goes on woman-run websites and announces that he is a chauvanist, that women don’t like technology, that if women do like gaming (and they probably don’t) then they need to “pay their dues” to be taken seriously, and that he only values female game characters for how well he can admire their boobs. I mean, I know there are people who think all those things. But to announce it? On a female-oriented website?

    My mind is boggled trying to accept that this is real life.

    And for what it’s worth, I (a woman) have been gaming for 20 years (since I was three). I have logged so many hours of my life playing console games that I get embarrassed about it depending on who I’m talking to. Get it out of your head that women gamers are either an anomaly or just “casual gamers.” Women have been gaming since the beginning of gaming. For whatever reason, you just haven’t seen it.

  • Anonymous

    Good article, I’m a hardcore gamer and I only have male gamer friends, when I just *think* about recommending a game to any of my female friends I get that uncomfortable feeling … of being an ambassador and tailoring a game pick so that they won’t run away from gaming as a whole. “FYI, this community is full of jerks” doesn’t really come off as a selling point :/

  • Fallenlords

    I think if you look at the world as though you are being suppressed it’s easy to form judgements and make cases for things. The teacher might have given attention only to the boys because they were not as smart as the girls. We mature at different rates. It’s easy to turn that around to make it appear sexist. It may well have been, but if I am viewing things through rose coloured glasses the world looks rose coloured.

    If demand existed, the video games industry would/will be meeting it. They are all about shifting units and making money, they don’t care about the colour of your money. But they also do their own market research, studies, consumer tests etc. They are looking 5 years ahead in time now. If the market is there it will be addressed.

    COD is actually an excellent example of how to manage a franchise. Making the company a bundle of money and investors a wedge at the same time. But COD’s success is down to making subtle small changes progressively. I think women need to look at video games as a whole in that context. It’s becoming acknowledged female gamers do exist and are a significant factor. But the changes are not going to happen overnight, you need to take a more incremental and progressive view of it.

  • Bailey Fields

    ‘I’m not saying (casual gamer) money doesn’t count. [...] The core gaming audience is still very much male dominated’

    As the article is sort of pointing out, do you not think there’s a correlation between the depiction of women in games made for hardcore gamers, and the number of women who play these games?

    In the article Becky talks at length about the kinds of conversations female gamers have with other female gamers, or women just starting out, before purchasing games.

    The industry is doing everything in its power just about to market the non-casual material exclusively AT MEN, and then male gamers seem to want to crow over the fact that women aren’t playing these games, as if that suggests ‘serious’ gaming isn’t something women do, so f*ck them, let’s keep just showing titties and tiny percentage of playable female characters.

    Do you not admit there’s something self-perpetuating about all this?

  • Bailey Fields

    haha sorry to reply to you again, but all through these comments you seem very hung up on this casual vs ‘real’ gamers distinction.

    You seem to want to divide those merely consuming games (by spending money), from those who IDENTIFY as ‘gamers’ (they also spend money).

    Sorry but this “Gaming is my identity!!!1!” mentality male gamers have reeks of insecurity. Male gamers hung up on distinguishing game-consumers from ‘real gamers’ reveal a few ugly things about themselves, the most notable being masculine entitlement, insecurity and misogyny.

    The labels/categories matter to these men bc they want to exclude women and LGBTQ people, and people of colour. Their identity is bound up in gaming, so they want it walled off, only for ‘serious gamers’, that is, straight white men. Games made for straight white men, by straight white men, and f*ck anyone who threatens that.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    “Do you not admit there’s something self-perpetuating about all this?”

    Of course I admit it. You SHOULD fight so that things get better. We should ALL fight for things to get better. I’m not dismissing Becky’s article. I’m saying we should not let the statistic trick us into proclaiming victory before it’s over, because the statistic is probably skewed in favor of certain communities, game types, etc.

    I’m saying thinks aren’t as good as they sound, so keep pushing to improve them.

    I guess I’m not being as clear as I should about this. I hope this made it clearer.

  • Bailey Fields

    hah yes reminds me of that recent Linda Holmes article, ‘At The Movies, The Women Are Gone’:

    “They put up Bridesmaids, we went. They put up Pitch Perfect, we went. They put up The Devil Wears Prada, which was in two-thousand-meryl-streeping-oh-six, and we went (and by “we,” I do not just mean women; I mean we, the humans), and all of it has led right here, right to this place. Right to the land of zippedy-doo-dah.

    You can apparently make an endless collection of high-priced action flops and everybody says “win some, lose some” and nobody decides that They Are Poison, but it feels like every “surprise success” about women is an anomaly and every failure is an abject lesson about how we really ought to just leave it all to The Rock.”

  • Bailey Fields

    People with privilege very frightened that their toys are being taken away from them. Tantrum time.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    I’m hung up about those, because these two categories have an important distinction. Yes, they both spend money, the first group probably even more so.

    However, the second category is the category which forms communities and has just as many issues with accepting women as the industry in general.

    Yes, gaming is part of my identity. This is why I’m here, commenting, while the majority of those games are being marketed to aren’t. To that majority, this conversation is of not important. To me, it is.I think that’s an important difference, so I like to properly define it when I have a conversation. You don’t have to agree with that, though.

  • Bailey Fields

    Dude, that’s your first reaction after reading this article? Seriously?

    You’re really going to get indignant that female gamers on the receiving end of a torrent of misogyny from the industry and its male gamers are, what, discriminating against men by not ‘warning’ them about the massively successful games made by and marketed to men that have shitty depictions of women? How is this a woman’s responsibility?

    Men are rapaciously creating and consuming this cultural product. Men are online aggressively telling women they are ‘casual gamers’ who need to shut up and accept their portrayal in ‘serious’ games as masturbatory aids – that’s if they’re featured in the game at all.

    Given all that, is it any surprise that women (and people of color, and LGBTQ people) only tend to talk to ONE ANOTHER about this stuff? Because past experience has long since taught us we’ll get our heads bitten off for even raising the subject? Stop making this about you and your hurt feelings.

  • Christopher Martinez

    I think some people are getting confused on what Hardcore and Casual means…some people feel they play an MMO and pay monthly and thus they are a Hardcore gamer….to the industry you are not…you spent 30-50 bucks once and then monthly 15$ to keep playing. While a Hardcore player spends 30-60$ multiple times a month playing non open ended games that last anywhere from 10-100+ hours. So its not the game that labels you as a hardcore/casual gamer…its the amount of games you buy and therefore what matters to the industry that relies on repeat sales. So to convince someone to give you a few million$ to fund a AAA game that will retail for 60$ and see revenue you need to stack the odds in your favor to get the sales. And right now the only real safe bet is to cater to young males to get those sales. However that trend is now shifting as more and more indie projects are breaking that cycle of only AAA studios bring in revenue. Here is another thing i have noticed…where are the women indie gaming dev’s? I pop on indiegogo and kickstarter all the time looking for new gems and i see nothing but male led projects. So I get the argument that female gamers need to factor in development…but at the same time i completely understand from a sales standpoint why they arnt. Maybe we just need that one studio to take a chance and produce a AAA led female driven project and have it be successful to show to the market that women will spend money on games. *shrug* We will see.

  • Bailey Fields

    Is it worth being a part of a community and binding up your identity so intimately with that community when the majority of its members are misogynists / homophobes / racists / bigots? What man would desire such an identity, I often wonder.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    I’m part of that community regardless of me liking it or not. I visit the same sites (I got here from reddit), I share interests, I take part in the same conversations. So are you. Being part of a community doesn’t mean associating with the views of some people in that community, it means sharing common interests with that community.

    Like it or not, we do share interests with some of the misogynists, homophobes, racists and bigots – we happen to like games. We need to push gaming communities into changing, into not accommodating people like that.

    Simply saying “women are 45% of the gaming populace” doesn’t take a lot of important things into account and doesn’t really help with the misogynists. Acknowledging who we are talking to/with is important. We aren’t talking to the average customer of the gaming industry (remember, women make up 45% of those), we are talking to a subset of those people. The majority doesn’t take part in these conversations.

  • Bailey Fields

    Ah i see, if that’s what you meant to express, then we agree.

    I still find it odd that you (as male gamers will tend to) fixate on this community/identity/hobby VS casual/individualistic/non-geek distinction. I don’t really understand why some women just casually picking up a game to ‘waste time on’ should in any way threaten your identity as a ‘serious gamer’ for who ‘visit sites like this one, enters discussions or anything like that’. What does it matter to you how different consumers interact with a product?

    I think it’s disingenuous for you to say the stats are misleading or not representative because gaming isn’t in fact as welcoming towards women as it ought to be. Your other points about women being casual gamers and thus not really part of ‘the community’ seem to suggest you don’t realise quite how violently misogynistic that community is–and refusing to admit it. That seems to be the real problem, not female gamers being over-optemistic.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    “I still find it odd that you (as male gamers will tend to) fixate on this community/identity/hobby VS casual/individualistic/non-geek distinction.”

    I don’t fixate, I acknowledge the difference, just like I would acknowledge the difference between myself, who occasionally buys an issue of Dylan Dog or Alan Ford (popular comic books in Croatia) and someone who tries to buy each and every issue or goes online to discuss those. People like me probably have a bigger affect on the comic book market, but people like him probably have a bigger affect on the communities around those comics (which I’m not really a member of).

    A similar thing is happening with games. Marketing does take women into account ever so slightly more. Marketing for “casual” games, in my view, seems to be getting a bit more “gender neutral”, but I might be wrong there.

    The communities around “core games” are getting better to. They just didn’t get as far and aren’t getting there as quickly. This is the main reason why I’m, in your view, “fixating”. Because the looser communities around casual games have less issues than tighter communities around “core” games. Putin them all in one basket reduces the effectiveness of the push to make things better overall.

    “I don’t really understand why some women just casually picking up a game to ‘waste time on’ should in any way threaten your identity as a ‘serious gamer’ for who ‘visit sites like this one, enters discussions or anything like that’. What does it matter to you how different consumers interact with a product?”

    It doesn’t. Why would you think it does? I’m just making a distinction, because there is a distinction. Making the distinction allows me to appraise (from a personal perspective) where the smaller and the bigger problems are.

    “Your other points about women being casual gamers and thus not really part of ‘the community’ seem to suggest you don’t realise quite how violently misogynistic that community is–and refusing to admit it.”

    You’re here. You’re part of the community. What you’re playing is of zero importance. The fact that you’re engaging with the community is why you’re part of the community. Being a gamer or a casual gamer is about how involved you are (and the bar is extremely low). You are involved. My sister plays Zuma on her PC. She isn’t a gamer. She’d laugh at me if I’d call her a gamer. Her interaction with gaming ends with that single daily session. She never read about Zuma, she never spoke to anyone about Zuma, she never really thought about Zuma outside of those daily 15 or so minutes. She isn’t a gamer. She plays a game and she bought a game, so she’s part of the statistic, but she isn’t a gamer.

    There is hidden meaning in that categorization. When I say “she isn’t a gamer”, I don’t mean anything by it. I’m simply saying the above paragraph, in a shorter form.

    “…seem to suggest you don’t realize quite how violently misogynistic that community is–and refusing to admit it. That seems to be the real problem, not female gamers being over-optimistic.”

    I realize there are huge issues, which is why the statistic makes no sense. Well, in reality it does make sense. Women do make up 45% of people who play games, the statistic is correct. Women do not make up 45% of people who talk about games, play games with each other, discuss games, read stories and news related to games. That’s the gaming community – not people who play games, people who play games AND interact with each other.

    And of course it’s a self perpetuating issue. This is why, again, I’m saying let’s not proclaim victory when the goal is so far ahead.

    I also don’t get the whole separation thing. (Some) people are overly optimistic, (some) people don’t realize how bad it is. It should be everyone’s goal to make things better, no?

  • Bailey Fields

    So white straight male geeks are the self-appointed gate keepers of this community, they get to define what the community is and what it means to be a ‘true gamer’?

    They do not represent my identity, they do not represent how I engage with games, they do not represent me, they are toxic.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    No!

    There are no gate keepers.

    I’m trying really hard not to be misunderstood, but it keeps happening.

    It’s a categorization. It’s a set of terms to hopefully make it clearer what we’re talking about. It’s not about valuing anyone, it’s about differentiating, not evaluating.

    People are different. Not better, not worse, different. This is one of the billion things they are different about. Even in this case, someone isn’t just categorically a gamer or a casual gamer. I plaid Angry Birds for a total of maybe an hour and that’s as far as my interaction with Angry Birds go. I also play CRPGs. I write about them, I talk about them, I like to think I’ll take part in the development of one, some time in the future.

    When it comes to Angry Birds, I’m a casual gamer. When it comes to CRPGs, I’m a gamer, possibly even a hardcore gamer. I’m absolutely not involved with the Angry Birds community, but I’m highly involved with various CRPG communities. It’s just simple terms. Why are you putting so much weight on them?

  • Bailey Fields

    In a capitalist system, whoever spends a sizeable amount of money on a product, recognisably part of consumer group, earns a stake in their own representation, consumers ultimately, most of the time, will shape the depiction of a group of people in the cultural products consumed.

    I’m sorry to be coarse, but i don’t give a shit about this cliched closeted fanboy shut away in a basement with cheeto dust on his fingers who is hates and fears women and knows every minute detail every batman comic every produced, or whatever his pet hobby happens to be.

    He doesn’t want the industry to change, he doesn’t want his toys to be taken away. well I’m sorry but disenfranchised people never got anywhere waiting for these people (male, white, straight) to give up their control over a cultural product. Capitalism wants money. If women are spending money on games that represent them like human beings not masturbatory aids for dudes, the industry will make more games for women, and the cheeto-dust guys will just have to go cry about it.

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    “…whoever spends a sizeable amount of money on a product, recognisably part of consumer group, earns a stake in their own representation…”

    That’s marketing. How marketing changes and how communities change are two different things. There might be some overlap, but generally, it’s quite separate. Those are to different battlegorunds.

    For some reason, people equate those two, which makes no sense to me. There are far more casual gamers than involved gamers. Games are marketed at casual gamers. Communities are shaped around involved gamers. There’s overlap, of course, but those are still pretty separated things.

    “I’m sorry to be coarse, but i don’t give a shit about this cliched closeted fanboy shut away in a basement with cheeto dust on his fingers who is hates and fears women and knows every minute detail every batman comic every produced, or whatever his pet hobby happens to be.

    He doesn’t want the industry to change, he doesn’t want his toys to be taken away. well I’m sorry but disenfranchised people never got anywhere waiting for these people (male, white, straight) to give up their control over a cultural product. Capitalism wants money. If women are spending money on games that represent them like human beings not masturbatory aids for dudes, the industry will make more games for women, and the cheeto-dust guys will just have to go cry about it”

    Ok, but why are you saying this to me. Do you see me as one of those people. If I made it look like I’m one of these people, then I completely failed in this discussion and in using the English language in general.

    I want things to change, I don’t like the current state of things. If I made the impression that I’m anything like you’re describing, I’m sorry.

    Would anyone else care to weigh in? I’m sorry, but I personally find it difficult to believe that I so badly failed at expressing my views.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    That was a very well written explanation of two sides. (no sarcasm) It’s an odd coin to consider. I just spent $200 on 3 games I had reserved, and I regularly spend that much on gaming. I set aside a certain amount of coin per month to feed my gaming obsession. With that being said I don’t know too many other women that actively game AND play specifically the same games that I have. When I do meet women like that, it is generally people who grew up in households with brothers or welcoming homes that accepted and understood that gender conformities can be seen objectively. For instance I started gaming because my 2 male cousins had a Nintendo. When my mom married her husband, he was an avid gamer and brought games into our household. He treated me like I was a normal kid who had an interest in gaming and then my Christmas and birthdays were filled with video game presents. With that being said, I don’t know hardly ANY girls, boys, or parents that I’ve met who have thought it natural to get their girls hook on hardcore murder fps like my step dad did. When I was in school kids got started with gaming because their friends told them how cool such and such was, I mean the kid who has all the PS2 games is an awesome friend to have, and if girls having friends who game at a young age doesn’t happen then them getting into video games doesn’t happen either. I can name on one hand the amount of consistent female gamers who used to purchase from me in game stop (I know that place is of the devil). But assumptions based on gender is the worst, and I’m hoping little by little our society can change aspect.

    With all that being said I think that they should at least consider general equality when creating a lot of these games. I don’t have anything against “sluttly dressed characters” because I like sexy ladies who can kick butt just like I like sexy dudes that can kick butt. But at least considering adding an additional non sexual character that happens to be female if they are planning on add Ms Pink Sex Pants too. I still feel like gaming in some regards is getting better at this though. Otherwise from a sales perspective, I’m inclined to agree with you.

  • Bailey Fields

    To put it simply as possible (again sorry if i swear, this isn’t directed at you, i find the situation frustrating):

    I don’t give a shit how much time a person spends on a game, if they went to the trouble of setting up an account online to talk about gaming, if they know every tiny detail of the history of a particular gaming franchise, if they were bullied in school for playing games and reading comics, if they were there at the very beginning, whatever.

    im sorry if i don’t respond to much of what you’ve said in your comment. I just do not care about ‘geek credibility’ and I’m sick of it even entering the conversation. Male gamers just use this crap as a way of excluding people so they can keep games a boy’s club and a free zone to wank off to sex objects in the games they play.

  • Bailey Fields

    you’re being too hard on yourself now lol

    you haven’t failed at representing your views, I just don’t agree with you. i sense you’re exhausted with the discussion so i’ll try be brief.

    we disagree about how important the male nerd community is, people who care very much about their title as
    ‘serious’ gamers,
    or ‘serious’ Batman comic book readers,
    or ‘serious’ star trek fans,
    or whatever geek thing it happens to be.

    Men who have had control of these cultural products since their inception, and been the dominant consumer group, are a very entitled bunch, and they resent the fact that women (and minorities in general) are gaining a voice by spending their money on stuff that doesn’t portray them as sub-human.

    Changing consumer group means
    -> evolving industry
    -> classically misrepresented groups becoming better-represented
    -> male nerd rage-gasm.

    I’m saying earning a shiny ‘official geek’ badge, handed out by the white-straight-nerd-boy faction, is not longer the goal for the consumers engaging with this cultural product. The homophobes, misogynists, racists, bigots, etc. who dictate who gets the shiny membership badge are no longer the cultural arbiters. The industry is already changing, and it will drag them along kicking and screaming, throwing the usual man-child tantrum because teh ass and titty is being taken away.

    it’s not really my place to reassure you that you aren’t one of these badge-holders who care a lot about who should and shouldn’t be let into the club house. if you want women, LGBTQ people, people of colour, people with disabilities, to have a voice in gaming, then we’re in agreement. but i think the labelling issue is central to the mentality that’s holding change back.

  • Christopher Martinez

    I am a man in my early 30′s and have dated my fair share of women in my adult years. What I noticed about women of my generation is the stigma of gaming is still pretty strong. In high school it was social suicide to say you were a gamer and that bled through into adulthood. I am used to the slight crestfallen look in my dates eyes when i mention my gaming hobbies and job. Only one woman I dated was a casual gamer and the rest always had the hesitation about playing games and absolute little to no understanding of gaming. Each time ive broached the topic of getting them into gaming and most felt initially it was silly/stupid/waste of time/not for them before ever loading a program. The few i have managed to convince to give it a shot really enjoyed *some* of the games we played once they realized not all games were the stereotyped gameplay they grew up with in the 90′s. My best intro game oddly enough has always been a coop of Silent Hill 2 with a bottle of wine. This of course does not seem to apply to Gen Y’s coming up into their 20′s now…the stigma of gaming seems to have eroded which is good to see. So i honestly think this problem will be solved when Gen Y’s are firmly entrenched in their 30′s when the gaming women have money to spend on these big titles and can move the market with their spending. Lets be honest…right now the 15-25ish year olds rarely have the means to spend a few hundred a month on games unlike a hardcore gamer in their 30′s+. This is a assumption based simply off my experience of course. I have high hopes on the booming indie market to change all of this and jumpstart the inevitable balancing of the market.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    I hate that stigma! I do not see too largely a difference between sitting on your butt for 4 hours watching a television show you are heavily invested in, and doing the same with a video game. Another problem is that people, not even lady folk, insist on being good at social activities/games/trivia whatever can be held up to other people’s abilities. So a person who normally games for example plays a new game that he/she sucks at. You can either whine and get beaten, or you can keep trying until you get better at the game and exact vengeance on your friends. Now a person who doesn’t game and is being introduced into a video game, picks up the controller and may die constantly. “This is stupid. I think it’s a waste of time.” Yeah, it’s because you have beginner’s suck and need practice. That’s one thing I love about co-op, is to some extent you can take care of your partners suck while allowing them to do whatever they want in game. My friends that are ladies think it’s “cool” that I play video games but only because I am a lady and “girls aren’t really into video games.” They like the idea that I am possibly better then their male friends which is infuriating. Stigmas are just the worst. I have high hopes for this as well. I am 23 and am always broke because of my addiction. ha! I don’t know too many dudes that do that either, that’s what game borrowing is for!

  • Simon Chui

    I don’t think you’re reading her article or my comment for what they are. Read her words again. “If I’m recommending a game to a male friend”. It’s a male friend who’s listening to her recommendations about games. Does that sound like the kind of sexist bigot you’re describing? The kind of males who would bite your head off for mentioning gender issues wouldn’t be sitting there listening to a woman recommend video games to him. I’m not making this about me, I’m making this about what she says to her friends, presumably people who respect her enough to listen to her opinions. I’m making this about the fact that if you have a male who’s willing to listen to your recommendation about games, maybe you shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to recruit him as an ally against the actual bigots.

    It wasn’t white people who led the civil rights movement; it was black people fighting for their rights with support from others. It’s not straight people leading the fight for LGBT rights, it’s LGBT people with support from straight allies. You see where this is going? There are plenty of men who will fight for women’s rights, but women have to lead the fight because it’s women’s rights.

  • Bailey Fields

    Yeah. No. Stop telling women what to do and how to respond to the misogyny directed at them. It’s not a woman’s job to inform her receptive male friends about the bigotry she faces, it’s exhausting enough just dealing with the bigotry and living with it day after day, it literally depletes you.

    If male gamers really give a shit they can educate themselves, look on women-friendly gaming blogs for reviews of games. You don’t need women to hold your hand through this stuff.

  • EleniRPG

    They wouldn’t market games to women because they thought we didn’t play. Now that they know we play, they still won’t market to us because they say we only play casual games? Sounds like someone’s making excuses for laziness. No matter what we do, they’ll just keep moving the finish line farther and farther down the track, won’t they?

    I thought it was interesting what you said about playing female characters, but it’s just further proof that not all women want the same thing. I’ve just counted up the number of games I’ve played as an adult (PC–I don’t have a console). Of the 21 titles I could think of, 1 had a male-only protagonist, 2 had female-only, and 18 offered a choice. The 2 female-only were Portal 1 and 2. The male-only was Braid, which was really the exception on the list because everything else I played could be categorized as an RPG or shooter (it’s also an exception because it’s a small game that cost me negligible money compared to the other titles I usually buy, e.g. $80 for Mass Effect 3 collector’s edition). Of the 18 games I’ve played that give me a choice for gender, I’ve only played 1 as a male…after I’d played through the game first as a female. What this shows is that, for this girl at least, if I’m paying money to escape into a story, I want to see a bit of myself in it. I don’t think I’ve actively rejected games because they didn’t let me play as a woman, but I’ve definitely gravitated toward the types of games that give me a choice. It all comes down to wanting to feel included, and seeing a game and thinking, “That game looks like it’s for me.” Which is ultimately what you’re arguing.

    Women want to play games that make them feel included. Even if it’s true that women are mostly playing “casual games,” maybe that’s an indication that only the casual game market is making them feel welcome. They don’t have to worry about feeling objectified when slicing airborne fruit. Clean up the “hardcore games” for an inclusive audience, and you might find a much larger market.

  • Anonymous

    “It’s just simple terms. Why are you putting so much weight on them?”

    Um…sir, YOU are the one putting all the weight on the terms. =)

    I am a woman, and by your definition a casual gamer, and here I am in this comment thread, in spite of your repeated statements that we casual gamers wouldn’t be here!

    I came her because every couple of years I search the internet, trying to find out if they are making any “real” games (as in not ones I download for $5) that would appeal to me. A game where my character was a woman not forced to wear lingerie, where the plot doesn’t revolve around fighting or violence, but where I could still interact with humans (as opposed to Katamari Damacy or something).

    Ever since I played Myst many eons ago, I knew it was possible that a game could be made I would enjoy. I mean, Myst was pretty cool, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was just excited that I wasn’t fighting or running and jumping the whole time. Anyways, still searching…

  • http://addictedgamewise.com/ Nikola

    You’re here. Because of that, by my definition, you are not a casual gamer. Either I’m not making my definition clear, or people aren’t at all trying to understand it. Because of that, I’m getting out of the discussion. I keep repeating the same thing and it keeps being misunderstood. I’m obviously failing at making my point clear.

    I’m sorry. Goodbye.

  • Anonymous

    So…you don’t have to actually PLAY games to be a “gamer?” That makes no sense.

    You said: “doesn’t consider themself a gamer. They
    don’t go beyond playing a random game. They don’t go online, follow up
    on gaming news, take part in gaming discussions. Gaming is no more
    important to them than playing poker is for me”

    So, because I commented on a gaming blog once, even though I don’t consider myself a gamer, I play on my phone for a few hours a week (mostly Words with Friends and Solitaire), and it means less to me than almost everything else in my life….but because I made this comment, you no longer consider me casual?

    I did a Google search. Apparently now I’m a hardcore gamer. Hilarious.

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    Good for you! I’m being completely serious here — it’s awesome that you enjoy playing games regardless of the gender of the main character/inclusion of agency-having female characters/etc. But just because you personally don’t care about these things doesn’t mean others also don’t care about them.

    The focus of this article was on the monetization of games, and suggestions for broadening the current markets to include women who are not currently playing the games you are playing. Many women (as multiple articles and studies have shown) are not comfortable entering into a hobby that they perceive to be misogynistic.Even if you personally don’t see these games as misogynistic, it can’t be argued that many, many women (and men) do, and that it makes good business sense to do something about the elements of these games that are the most problematic.

  • Fran

    yeah you have a point on that, many women think that the gaming world is like you say , and in some way I think it’s true(when I was younger it was worse). In fact, I found most of the games I mentioned mysogynistic in some ways. for example, why in resident evil the female character has always “a model-sexy body”? or..why in call of duty there aren’t women at all?
    I’m not feminist, but I agree with girls and women that argue about that, because is important in the gaming industry , I think actually that’s the key for the “gamer girls/women market”. But…also depends on us (women) to change that , how? playing and having fun with games and not leaving the “mysogynistic” part of the gaming win. Attending to gaming events, playing ,and giving ideas , there are many ways to be included, in my own experience at least -w-
    Thank you very much for your respectful opinion , maybe I sounded a little “rude” but, that’s because we’re posting here, to say our opinion, aren’t we?
    greetings ;)

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    “I’m not [a] feminist”

    I suspect that you’re wrong about that. What makes you think you aren’t a feminist?

  • Anonymous

    I think there are many reasons for the WHY. But chief among them, imo, as someone that plays a variety of ‘casual’ games (puzzle, mobile, hidden object, visual novel, sim life, dash, facebook-esque, point and click games etc) as well as ‘serious’ games (RPGs, Shooters, Action, Adventure) for comparison, is that the casual gaming market has a MUCH wider variety of women stories, women as protagonists, and diversity in those women and stories. I’m certainly not saying it is perfect or does not fall into trope traps and problematic themes and sundry, but I definitely think that the large casual gaming sphere holds much more appeal if you’re wanting to find more stories about and with women in them. And women as heroines.

    I absolutely think there is a correlation.

    Mass market mainstream games tend not to actively market themselves as being inclusive or women-friendly on the whole. Oftentimes it can be downright alienating and offensive and disturbing in content, storylines, tropes, and women as victims and/or window dressing for male gaze. So when presented with the choice to have that or a more friendlier, familiar, and inviting content? With power fantasies and heroines more of the like that women (and men that enjoy women as heroines) like to see? I think such folks would be more inclined to play in the sphere of gaming that has more to offer them.

    The toxic cycle mainstream ‘serious’ games have is that they do not try to market to women or attract women gamers, and that they oftentimes create environments and content that is aggressively sexist. So, if you don’t try to market to x demographic, and you make content that is hostile toward x demographic, how can you hold a discourse about the subject and say, ‘Well, men are the main demographic because women don’t play games at all.’ If you do not market and include them, you won’t attract them. If you do not understand how to market to and include them, and instead go with hostile/alienating content, you won’t attract them. Vicious cycle.

  • Anonymous

    Goodness, ain’t that the truth? I often bring up the same thing in games/media discussions. If a movie or game does not sell well, then OBVIOUSLY it is because the protagonist is a woman because women don’t sell action games/media. I mean, it has nothing at all to do with content, story, representation, mechanics, marketing, distribution availability, dialogue, difficulty, sexualization, or any myriad of other reasons. But if a grizzled dark-haired 30-something white man as protagonist sells poorly, then obviously it is for every other reason BUT protagonist (and his gender).

  • Anonymous

    YES! The self-fulfilling prophecy!

  • Fran

    well, considering the global concept , I don’t consider myself as a feminist even I share some opinions and ideas with them. I said that (“I’m not [a] feminist”) because in general people say (for example):”oh, you want more woman playing games,that’s typical from feminist” or things like :” you women are always wanting more things and stuff , your’e feminist blah blah…” I usually heard comments like that, not from gamer guys, mostly random guys actually

    Sorry if I misunderstand something (or make some grammatical mistakes) ,I’m not a native english speaker

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    All “feminist” means is that you think that men and women are equal. That’s it! You might disagree with some things individual feminists say, but unless you think that men are better than women overall, then you’re a feminist.

  • Fallenlords

    Well I would say a feminist is somebody that advocates rights for women, equal to men. I wouldn’t say a person is a feminist just because they believe men and women are equal.

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    Identification with a group does not require participation in group-related activities.

  • Fallenlords

    But you are not by default a ‘feminist’ just because you believe the sexes are equal.

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    …Yes, you are. The most basic tenet of feminism is that women are not inferior to men, but are equal to them.

    I’m really not sure why you’re so opposed to this idea — why are you trying to make “feminist” seem like something you have to earn the right to call yourself? There are enough people (like Fran here) who mistakenly think they aren’t feminists because they aren’t jumping through the hoops others have laid out for them.

  • Bailey Fields

    Don’t you know it’s up to male gamers to decide who is and isn’t a serious gamer?? They have a committee especially for passing judgement on this kind of thing.

  • Fallenlords

    To be a feminist you have to base your believes and behaviour on feminism. Just because equality is a basic tenet of feminism and somebody believes that, it still does not make them a feminist.

  • Furiouser and Furiouser

    “To be a feminist you have to base your believes… on feminism”

    Since you’ve now circled around to agreeing with me, I think it’s time this conversation ended.

  • Fallenlords

    … and behaviour on feminism. Just because you may have certain beliefs that coincide with feminist beliefs, does not by default make you a feminist.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is, though, that markets don’t entirely work like that. If business people have the impression that certain products won’t sell, or if they simply don’t even think of the possibility of producing something like that, then it won’t get made until either a new generation comes along, general perception changes or people who want those products start producing and financing them – which is currently happening with kickstarter and so on, but it’s far from done yet.

    I’ll give you an example: look up Madam C. J. Walker. She was a black woman who made a fortune in inventing and producing beauty and hair care products specifically for African-Americans in the end of the 19th century, mostly because although there was a huge demand for beauty products aimed at black women, almost all products were only made for white people (I mean, there are lots of products all races can use, but for instance powder won’t do you any good if it’s only available in the shades snow to eggshell).
    I don’t think the white people producing care products intentionally ignored a huge market that made this woman a millionaire. But they either didn’t think of black women as customers at all or they thought it was a niche market and produced only a few (bad) items aimed at black women.
    You’d think people would realize that there is money to be made, but often they don’t, because of their own biases. And if gaming has anything in abundance, it’s biases and stereotypes.

  • Anonymous

    Me too :D I love Fable 3!

  • Anonymous

    I guess there is a difference between casual gameRS (people who play games less than 10 hours a week or so, I guess?) and casual gameS – i.e. games that can be picked up and put down quickly, which can be played on mobile devices or average computers, where one session is often only around 10-30 minutes or so (meaning either you play 10 minutes and then come back later like Farmville or you play a game for a few minutes and then start anew, like Angry Birds), and with rules that are easy to get into and don’t require intense preparation (though of course these ARE games where you can get better if you put time into it).
    This contrasts with less casual to hardcore games which require consoles or good computers, and which are more like a movie or a book, requiring time and often effort and where you can easily spend hundreds of hours on the same game without repeating anything (I mean my parents probably have hundreds of hours of spider solitaire between them, but it’s the same again and again and they only do a few games in a row).
    Now just thinking about the people my age (around 20) I know, there aren’t actually that many people playing “hardcore” games, and especially people playing hardcore games in a hardcore way, and the ratio between men and women is pretty much equal. I don’t know how it is generally, but I hope it is a sign of things to come.

  • Anonymous

    That statement can just as easily be turned on its head.
    We are the ones who invest often large sums of money in machines to play games on and in games themselves, we sit down to do this as a hobby and actually spend time only gaming and nothing else, we make time for gaming, whereas casuals only play on the devices they already have and spend maybe two dollars at most on their games, and only play under certain set conditions (when they are on the bus or have to wait for anything else, when they don’t have anything else to do, when they just want to waste time; they don’t make time for games, they just play them when it’s convenient). Who sounds more hardcore now? (Btw, there are “hardcore” gamers taking their games with them. It’s called a PSP.)
    And what about that line about “sexual desires catered to”? Um, what? I have never heard anything like that statement said about a woman, so whether you realize it or not you just implied that only men are “hardcore” gamers, which kind of defies the point of the whole article, don’t you think? And even then, “catered to”? What makes you resent male gamers so much that you have to paint all of them as chauvinists who have their sexual desire “catered to”? Especially considering that quite a few gamers are teenagers (male and female) who probably only cater to their own sexual desires. Seriously, what was the point of that remark? I’m not even a guy and I feel creeped out by that.

  • Bailey Fields

    Great comment. I was talking more about this 45% figure, that women demonstrably ARE consumers, but i see what you’re saying wrt ‘serious’/hardcore games–if the men making these types of games have biases, they won’t make games for us even if we do want to play hardcore games, they don’t want to see it / aren’t capable of entertaining that concept. haha they really don’t think we’re human like men are human apparently.

    I guess what I find funny is this mentality that you can depict a group of people in a disgusting way just because they don’t play the games / aren’t around to get offended. It’s like, fuck it, let’s do the most gross thing because we can.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    The fact that the statement can be easily flipped around is kinda the whole point, that any criteria can be designed to categorize people however you want.

    And by the rest of comment, I’m gonna guess you don’t engage with male gamers much? Because I do, and the slightest hint that women in games don’t have to be objectified, that they can be well rounded characters, who wear sensible clothing/armor, tends to bring out giant hissy fits about how THEY are the dominant force in the market, and THEY like Nekkid Chicks, so the rest of us are going to have to deal. Or the constant demands that you make yourself sexually available, at least willing to tolerate inappropriate sexualization to participate in online gaming.

    I don’t resent all male gamers(though I love[no I don't] how criticizing male supremacist cultures, like gaming, means I MUST resent men), I resent the vocal but not insignificant minority who screech that women aren’t gamers, while actively maintaining a hostile environment designed to repel women gamers.

  • Anonymous

    I misunderstood your comment as saying (male) gamers only want to play games if they recently got a blowjob or something (had their sexual desires catered to), which I find a rather ridiculous assertion, so pardon me for believing you think of male gamers in general as chauvinists (which is basically resenting them).
    But I do in fact know lots of male gamers and none of them are like that… I mean, even you yourself just said that it’s just a minority, but before that you said male gamers in general are like that? Which is it? Like I said, I know quite a lot of gamers, male and female, and I have never met anyone like that except on reddit or youtube, and everybody knows that’s where decency goes to die. I’m not saying that there aren’t such men, there obviously are if so many women say they know people like that, but I don’t think it does anybody any good to call all “hardcore” gamers misogynistic gatekeepers, especially considering my point (that you completely ignored) that not only men are “hardcore” gamers and to imply that is exactly what the men you criticize keep saying.

  • Anonymous

    I think the worst part is that they probably don’t even realize how offensive and just gross it is that in many games literally all the women are objectified to various degrees, considering that our general culture thinks that’s a totally normal thing to do. That reminds me of something I read somewhere on a feminist blog, though I can’t remember where – people say “sex sells”, but we don’t see people actually having sex or naked men along with the naked women in advertisement; it isn’t sex that sells, but heterosexual male desire and power, and the fact that we call that “sex” goes a long way to explain why many people can’t fathom the many problems with how society treats women.

  • Bailey Fields

    if i could like this comment more than once i would! i never thought about it or articulated it in that way but that pretty much explains the whole problem, it’s a way of seeing that we’ve all socialised into and expected to adopt as normal.