For a long time, gaming was considered a masculine hobby. However, the gaming scene is rapidly changing as more women and girls wade into the fray.
Data from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the gaming industry’s top trade group in the US, highlights the rise of the female gamer. According to ESA’s 2015 Essential Facts report, over 155 million Americans regularly play video games. Women aged 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33%) than boys aged 18 and below (15%). The report further reveals that the average age of female players is 43 years, while that of their male counterparts is 35 years.
A similar study by the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK confirmed that in 2014, women accounted for 52% of the gaming audience in Britain. This was an increase from the 49% recorded in 2011.
Changing industry perceptions
The information above clearly indicates that there is a growing interest in gaming among women. The wider gaming industry is slowly noticing this trend, giving rise to some interesting changes in the marketplace.
For starters, the definition of a gamer is expanding. Traditionally, a gamer was a person who exclusively played video games on consoles. Although hardcore gamers still stick to that definition, these days, a gamer is considered anyone who plays games, regardless of the device used.
This is driven in part by the surge in popularity of the smartphone as a gaming device. Thanks to smartphones, people now have access to a wider selection of games than ever before. Game developers have responded to this increasing demand for games by rolling out a variety of mobile gaming apps and websites to suit every taste.
While role-playing and puzzle games still retain their popularity, game genres such as sports and gambling are gradually gaining ground. Nowadays, fans of casino games have unlimited access to their favorite games thanks to the numerous online betting sites available.
Another welcome change attributed to the increasing numbers of female gamers is the development of more female characters in games. In the past, female characters only served as background decoration, or were relegated to the role of damsels in distress. This is changing as developers build stronger female characters with plausible backstories and more active roles in games.
There is also an increase in the number of games designed and tailored specifically for women. As a result, more women are pursuing careers in game development, though the numbers are still heavily skewed in favor of men.
Different gaming habits
A few studies have been carried out to determine whether gaming habits differ among girls and boys. One extensive study showed that male gamers had a greater preference for more violent video games than females. The latter reported playing both violent and non-violent games at an almost equal frequency. Furthermore, males were drawn to fighting, action, strategy, and role-playing games whereas females were more likely to play games from puzzle, trivia, simulation, or music genres.
The gaming industry is set to undergo additional changes as more people take up gaming. The best is yet to come as the gaming world is continuously evolving.