Women and Gaming

Lara Croft

Lara Croft bandages herself

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot going around about the heavy male skew in the gaming world. whether it is the number of women in gaming journalism, the number of women in game development, or simply the number of women gaming. Sure, it is very true that it is a male dominated industry, but the real issue comes from that it is still treated like a boys club though there are claims that isn’t the case.

What is a Male vs Female Game
through discussing with friends both male and female I’ve found one main difference between the type of games that males like vs females and that is story. It seems like a flimsy argument and it almost is, but i found that nearly every female player valued the story. Sure the bang and pomp that make video games is still important, but it also needed a story to go along. All that said men tend to value the story in a game to, but are ore willing to forgive a game that doesn’t have a story. I’m talking about a real story that drives the game play. Rather than flimsy stories that are driven by the set pieces that are created. When you get a moving moment like the giraffes moving through the college campus in The Last of Us, you can see how important these moments can be.

Contrast Artwork

Contrast Artwork

Where are the Women
People like to make claims that games just don’t appeal to women, which is completely untrue. Games are not marketed to women. Games are cast in the public eye as an activity that is exclusively male. When that happens, it makes perfect sense that the majority of women wouldn’t be drawn to games. At the end of the day it is entirely true that what is marketed to people is what will appeal to people. If the only games being marketed to women are fitness games it makes sense that there wouldn’t be a large market. The truth of the games available indicates that there are plenty of games that would appeal to women if they were only marketed to women. A game like little big planet can appeal to everyone. A game like Tomb Raider highlights a woman as a lead without objectifying her while placing her into an interesting story. Especially Tomb Raider is proof that a game can elevate a woman as a lead character and have the game still be intriguing and interesting for men.

The Issue
The gaming industry seems to have a stance that games are for men and men only like a few kinds of games. The women who enjoy and are part of the gaming industry are outliers of normal women and thus the inclusion of women must be on the terms of men. This is changing over time, but it is still a major cause for concern. It is a backwards system. Marketing won’t target women more unless they prove to be a viable market to approach. But women won’t approach the games unless they are reached in some ways. Without direct marketing women’s involvement in gaming needs to either be initiated by the woman or it is given to her by some tangential topic. The marketers aren’t going to target women if the games aren’t said to appeal to them, which brings us to developers. The real change within the gaming industry that will bring more women into the fold are to create more games that will appeal to them. There is no need to start large with big blockbuster titles, but starting small and actually marketing to the women would be a good start. Smaller games like Contrast (while good, but flawed) would be something that could appeal to women. If the types of games available expand, there will be more for women to latch on to. Things will change when more developers are willing to create more games that could also appeal to women. Don’t get me wrong, the shift is happening, but there is still more to work on.

What do you think about the low number of women involved with gaming?

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