No More ‘Gentlemen Only’: Gaming Has Officially Become Unisex
Let’s admit it: when we try and picture the average gamer, we all think of the same qualities we believe most gamers share. Somewhat nerdy, quite good with reflexes – and male. Right?
Wrong – at least about that last part. In fact, a study published by the Internet Advertising Bureau revealed that as of 2014, 52% of gamers are women. Could it be that an industry traditionally thought to appeal (and thus, market itself) towards boys has actually recruited so many women among its fan base?
The Unlimited and Unisex World of Video Games
The answer is a resounding yes, although it may come as a surprise to the gaming community, too. It is true that there is still a stereotype involving “traditional gaming” – that is, the likes of Call of Duty or League of Legends. Yet the realm of video games encompasses so much more and many titles considered “lighter” by old school gamers have seen their popularity soar lately – just think Cookie Jam. In fact, the most popular device for gaming today is the smartphone and the most popular genres are puzzle, trivia and word games. The increasing appeal of mobile gaming (which in a world on the move will probably dominate the market sooner than later, mark these words) and the relevant growth of the mobile games industry has been prompted largely thanks to a female consumer base.
The reverse is true as well. Titles traditionally considered to appeal more to a “female” audience are breaking the gender barrier, especially among millennials. Take bingo, for example: there are now a number of bingo sites out there – many of which include no deposit bonuses – that offer games which feature concepts both familiar and popular to a young audience irrespective of gender, like Deal or No Deal Bingo – modelled after the television game show that became an instant hit in many countries, including the UK. Adapting to the preferences of the millennial demographic, there are also several bingo titles that can be played on mobile devices or even through social media sites like Facebook, which only makes things easier.
Are Women Making a Power Move in the Gaming Industry?
However, it is not only these “lightweight” titles that seem to appeal equally to both sexes. Traditional gaming categories seemed to have evolved to include a more unisex audience: another survey published by analyst firm Superdata Research suggest that women slightly outnumber men in PC games across all genres, including social (Facebook, Kongregate). In RPG games, though, according to the same survey, women represent 53.6% of the market while men make up for 46.5%. Yet, men still outnumber women in FPS and MMO titles, making up 66% of the market.
That being said, there is a lot of evidence that there are a lot of “hardcore” female gamers out there, who devote themselves to their craft. And it is not only that more and more women viewers are attracted to pro-gaming (a study conducted in 2014 by SuperData Research in collaboration with Newzoo revealed a jump from 15% to 30% in the female audience) – more and more women professional gamers are competing for the spotlight, too. If you take a look at e-Sports Earnings female player rankings, you can see some impressive prize money winnings – including six digit figures for the top players. And this does not include money made from sponsorship deals and from streaming their gaming on services like Twitch.
However, there is still a long way to go in terms of women employed in the industry. According to a study published in the Boston Globe, women make up only 11% of game designers and 3% of programmers. This is exceptionally low, even when compared with the broader fields of graphic design and technology, where women represent around 60% and 25% respectively. Furthermore, female video game programmers are paid approximately $10,000 a year less than their male colleagues and women designers earn $12,000 less.
It seems that gaming appeals more and more to a unisex audience – or, it has probably always been that way and we are just starting to take notice. But in terms of employment within the industry, we are only in the beginning.
Image Source: Girl Gamer Galaxy via Facebook