Study: Appealing to Young Women Will Help Developers Sell More Games. Shocker.
At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday, Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch presented the results of a year-long study that shows game developers may be underestimating and failing to capitalize on the interests of young female fans.
In her role as a teacher, Wiseman gave a survey to 1,583 students aged 11 to 18 over the past year that examined participants’ preference in gendered protagonists, whether or not they would self-identify as “gamers,” and their thoughts on gamers of another gender.
Of the study’s respondents, 28% of girls answered “yes” to the question, “Are you more likely to play a game based on the character’s gender?” as opposed to 20% of boys. 39% of male respondents said they prefer to play as male characters, while 60% of the high-school-aged girls preferred to play as female protagonists. Burch explained to the room of developers,
It’s terrifying to imagine that your game’s not going to sell. But it could be that we are falsely attributing the success of past games to things that don’t actually matter to the kids that are playing them.
There’s a higher percentage of high school boys that don’t care either way than there are high school boys that prefer playing as a man. But the inverse happens when you ask girls.
Of the survey’s respondents, 65% of girls said they did not identify as “gamers,” whereas 65% of boys said yes. Of the boys who identified as “gamers,” 86% said yes when asked if they wanted to see more girls playing games, and only 19% of gamer boys said no when asked if they wanted to see more female protagonists.
We have this perception of what ‘gamer’ means, and what people that associate themselves with that title think it means. As we saw with the girls — all of those girls — that you couldn’t tell the difference between whether or not they identified as a ‘gamer’ or not.
According to Burch, the gaming industry only stands to benefit from this desire for lady-led content:
Let’s talk about Frozen.Why do little girls like Elsa? Because she makes ice with her hands. How cool is that? Girls don’t have super heroes to look up to. That’s why Elsa resonates so much with them.
If you look at any of the Marvel titles that are coming out; there’s Captain Marvel, they’re including more Black Widow, there’s the female Thor … Squirrel Girl. There are more and more titles with female leads, and it’s not just because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s because they know that girls have purchasing power, and they want more girls buying their comics. Because girls are nerds, guys, and they want to buy your stuff.