How Female Gamers Are Changing the Landscape

by | Dec 14, 2021 | Brands, Gaming Commerce, Mobile Games, Publishers | 0 comments

Until quite recently, gaming, (like most fields, let’s be honest) was exclusively a man’s world. Up until the last decade, the only women you saw in gaming were scantily-clad secondary characters whose giant breasts were their sole memorable quality. Of course, there have always been women gamers, but they’ve been a minority until maybe a decade ago when numbers began to rise. And rise they did – drastically. Lo and behold, by 2020, women accounted for nearly 41% of all gamers in the US and 45% of the Asian gaming population. Asia, it should be noted, accounts for 48% of the world’s total gaming revenue. That’s some major girl power.  

Female gamers continue to rise, and numerous studies have sought to understand if female gamers have specific motivations and game play behaviors different from those of male players. Women, it seems, play largely for the challenge, competition, sense of achievement, and even social standing, whereas the majority of male gamers cite entertainment, passing the time, and de-stressing.  Recent studies also show that female gamers play all types of game genres (especially popular online games) using different devices and platforms. 

If anything, what these studies highlight is the rich complexity of the female gaming population. But is the gaming industry adequately structured to serve this consumer segment? While organizations like Women in Games, are advocating for changes within the industry and the eradication of gender discrimination, game companies are proving to be slow on the uptake.

In-game female character representation remains lacking, with just 5% of video games showcasing female protagonists, while gender stereotypes continue to prevail, with female characters often objectified and hypersexualized. That, or the pure & prudish damsel in distress.
There is some good news, however: Feminist Frequency reported significant improvement in 2020 with 18% of games launched last year featureing female characters. They’re not all MAIN characters, of course, but that’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully a new trend toward showcasing female protagonists free of gender stereotyping.

Baby steps being what they are, the gamer community is still largely a ‘boy’s club’, where female gamers are much more likely to experience humiliation, abuse, sexual harassment and plain old being exclusion from games.

Some are saying the necessary change will only come from the industry leaders themselves, pinning their hopes on gaming companies altering the workforce landscape and culture itself.
This past summer’s legal action brought against Blizzard Entertainment (one of the world’s biggest game publishers) for its mistreatment of female employees and ‘frat boy’ workplace culture, is a good start.

But in a classic case of life imitating game art, female representation in the gaming industry is still a problem, with women holding only 16% of executive positions held by women, and only 24% of non-executive jobs. In an effort to create a more inclusive workforce that’s free of harassment and offers equal opportunities (and pay) to women, organizations like UK-based #RaisetheGame are encouraging companies to focus on diversity, inclusion, and improve hiring practices. So far, over 100 companies have signed up for this initiative, and large companies like Ubisoft are taking bold steps to accelerate this cultural shift.

Clearly, there is a long way to go (isn’t there always?), but with female gamer numbers continuing to rise steadily, stronger female representation in esports events, and female streamers using their influencer powers for good, women and girls are starting to make bigger and wilder waves throughout the gamerverse, and that’s one tsunami we’re looking forward to.