Statistics, as we all know, can be misleading. One of the reasons for this is that those carrying out the surveys might have a vested interest in displaying positive results. As such, polling can be carried out in such a manner to nudge people towards a certain outcome. It’s for that reason you might see a tv ad with nine out of ten dentists saying they prefer a certain toothpaste, or some government initiative portrayed as more popular than it is in reality.
So, why bring this up? There has been a lot of talk about women in gaming recently, and the results of some of the surveys are both interesting and surprising. Now, as we have said, every poll should be regarded with a pinch of salt because, well, if I wanted to launch a video game targeted at the female demographic aged 35-44, it would suit my needs to say it is already popular with that group.
Women now make up almost half of the market
Nonetheless, looking at different surveys and studies from different sources, we can see some undeniable trends in gaming. First, the average age of a gamer is older than you might expect – somewhere around the age of 35. Secondly, women make up almost half of the gamer population; 45% according to some studies, and the split is almost 50-50 in some parts of Asia. As such, the takeaway is that gaming is no longer the proviso of teenage boys that is sometimes purported to be.
There are differences between the sexes and age groups, of course. For example, young men tend to like shooter games and make up the vast majority of players. On the other hand, the core market for a mobile game like Candy Crush is women over the age of 35. In casino gaming, men tend to prefer card and table games like blackjack and roulette, whereas women are more likely to be spinning on slots like 9 Masks of Fire online. But even within all these groups, the studies only point towards majorities, and they can fail to highlight trends. In short, there are more women playing shooters like Call of Duty and card games like blackjack than is commonly held.
Gaming money and power still in the hands of men
As with many industries, there is, however, a problem with the proportion of women at the upper echelons of the industry. Recently, there have been lots of initiatives supporting female esports teams, aka professional video game players. Sponsorship has been pouring in from big companies wanting to be supportive of a growing sector. However, of the 400 esports players in the world (in terms of earnings), just one is a woman. At the executive level, women, as you might expect, are sparsely represented as CEOs of gaming companies. There is a long way to go it seems.
However, there is some hope that things will change over time. Most of all, there is a recognition that the massive population of female gamers around the world represents a market that must be served. For evidence, take a look at the story of Kate Gorman, one of the few women CEOs of a gaming company. Gorman believes that women, including older women, are ill-served by the status quo, so she built her business, Fort Mason Games, around the idea that different genres of quality games will resonate with a female audience. That means fewer battle games and more focus on “relax-orientating” games. According to Forbes, Gorman believes women “are the future of gaming”.
The point of all this is to simply highlight that women are much more integral to the fortunes of the multibillion-dollar global gaming industry than what is portrayed in the media. There has been a quiet cultural shift over the last decade or so, leading to an almost 50-50 split in the market between men and women. Similar to activities like sports, however, there remains a gap between participation and who holds the strings of power and money. Will that change? Let’s hope so.
Tagged in Games