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Female Gamers Are Nothing New

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I have a friend who swears there is no such thing as a female gamer. In MMORPGs, anyone professing to be a woman has to be a “400-pound trucker from Wisconsin.” Named Bill, this trucking master of deception employs a voice modulator to fool gaming friends when chat programs are used to coordinate groups or raids.

Of course, he’s joking. Having met more than one female gamer in person, he knows women gamers are real, they’re serious about their gaming hobby and they’re here to stay.

Unfortunately, his joking rings true as a belief held by many. Women can’t possibly be “serious” about gaming? Don’t they have knitting or something else to do?

Quite often, I receive e-mails proclaiming the results of a new study of the week on female gamers or a new spin on an old study. Although women have played video games for decades, it seems like the notion just isn’t registering in some circles.

While I fully understand the need for such studies for gaming companies to tailor their product development and marketing strategies, I don’t get why the results are such big news study after study.

The Consumer Electronics Association reports that more women than men, ages 25 to 34, play video games. The association’s study says that 65 percent of women in that age bracket play video games, compared to about 35 percent of men in that same age group. The women were even found only “slightly less likely” than men in that age group to use consoles such as the Xbox or PlayStation 2.

Granted, many of the study subjects gravitated toward puzzle and card games and used services like Pogo and AOL Games, it does support the fact that gaming isn’t just a guy’s pastime.

Don’t think for a moment that “serious” gamers of the female persuasion don’t exist. In fact, we’ve been around for a while. From first-person shooters to RPGs, female gamers are involved in them all.

We’re here. We’re real. And some of us are getting really tired of reading headlines that “prove we exist.”

The next time you’re convinced you’re talking to Bill from Wisconsin in an online game, think again. That player who just shot you down like a punk in Halo or who saved your butt with a well timed heal in EQ might just be an honest to goodness woman. No headlines please.

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  • My clan had 5 or 6 women in our 20 person line-up. And the league had plenty more and all of them were lethal players who can kick your ass to the curb between 2 frame changes. POW! POW! You’re dead. And some of them we’re sizzling hot females deserving of drooling worship. And some were hot and very brainy to (another stereotype disproved)

    Hot, Brainy and can frag your ass with a rocket launcher… what more could a geek possibly want? =)

  • brad

    so true ^_^

  • Kha0z

    lies -_-

    Once upon a time.. i met a girl.. and she doesn’t knew how to login on a stupid web-based game. Sure they play video games, sure they’re a growing community, but no way they are more than us. Doh -_-

  • Chris

    The last time i checked, puzzle and card games don’t qualify as video games

  • Choco

    That statistic seems a bit off. Sure there are female gamers like myself but enough to out number males, that’s wierd. On campus, our video game club has a girl to boy ratio of 2:54

  • Ranilin

    That’s because if you go by the article, they count stuff such as games from Yahoo.com, MSN, maybe even Ebaumsworld.com or addictinggames.com

    People who play those types of games in their spare time are not considered “Serious gamers” (but yes, there are exceptions). My point is that the typical player of the above type games wouldn’t go out to join a gaming group. So yes, the numbers there will be skewed. And the sad part is, if more women OR men would take the chance to try one out, they’d probably make new friends and keep coming back. However, gaming has such a negative view, even if subconciously in some people..

  • Puzzle and card games may not be the style of video game you like to play, but they’re helping to keep the platforms in business so you can play your Halo or Oblivion or whatever it is you do like to play.

  • They play Solitare and all those other small Windows games. When you say “Gamer” I’m thinking “Counter-Strike”, not solitare, everyone plays solitare.

    They’re not “gamers”, just women killing time by playing Solitare.

  • Linnéa

    Like always, what women do is considered of less value. So the games that women tend to play is of course not “real” games. So, how do you define a game then? Tetris is not a game anymore?

    Is it the platform that the game is played on that defines if it’s a game or not? If I play a puzzle game on my Nintendo DS it’s a real game but not on the web? I don’t get it.

  • Ty

    “Like always, what women do is considered of less value. So the games that women tend to play is of course not “real” games. So, how do you define a game then? Tetris is not a game anymore?

    Is it the platform that the game is played on that defines if it’s a game or not? If I play a puzzle game on my Nintendo DS it’s a real game but not on the web? I don’t get it.

    People seem to be forgetting the best selling PC game of all time, Sims and Sims 2. These are “real” games, but the demographics of the players of these are overwhelmingly women.

    I consider women who play Sims 2 gamers, but “female gamers.” A female gamer gets to be called “gamer” when she plays that game along with several of the following genres: SPORTS, RPG, Adventure, Strategy, and FPS.

    There is a difference between a girl who plays Sims 2, puzzle games, and some “girly” DS titles to someone who plays those games + Halo 2, Black And White, B&W 2, and the occassional sports game (my wife).

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    “Like always, what women do is considered of less value. So the games that women tend to play is of course not “real” games.”

    I severly disagree with this statement. It has nothing to do with gender. In my eyes, a ‘gamer’ is someone who is REALLY into video games, and not just someone who plays the occasional game here and there, but doesn’t do so often and typically plays only very few different kinds of games.

    I would consider myself a gamer. I have many game systems from over the years, I’ve played (and still play) many different types of games. It’s something that I am very interested in, and spend a lot of time (and money) playing and absorbing info about it.

    I wouldn’t exactly consider someone who plays the occasional game of computer solitaire or those little AOL online games just to kill some time due to having a lack of something better to do to be a gamer in the same sense as I am. This is not gender specific, I would say this about a male or a female.

    In fact, I am going to cite a few true to life examples that I have first hand experience with.

    My step-dad has a computer that he uses for work and important things. And he also has a war game or two. He doesn’t play them every day, but when he does he’s known for playing for a few hours. But would I really consider him to be a gamer? – No.

    Sure, he is playing a video game. But the thing is that he just tends to be a history and a war buff. He watches the history channel, reads books about it, takes a lot of interest in war strategies, etc, and these particular games are just an extension of that interest. They are something he is interested in extended into a video game form. So, its not the love of video games that drives him to play, its his love of the subject matter. And, I am sure that if I were to explain to tell him about this article and how I don’t consider him a gamer in the same sense as someone like myself, I’m sure that he would take no offense to it and would likely agree with me. (And I’m sure there are other guys out there like him, who aren’t heavily into video games but do have one or two that interest them, and would probably agree with my statements as well,)

    Heck, even my late grandmother (who passed away about 2 years ago) used to play the occasional game of solitaire on the computer. But again, its not out of love of games. She used to actually play solitaire the traditional way with a deck of cards. But then my aunt (who lived with my grandma) showed her how to use the solitaire computer game, and she just found that easier than hassling with shuffling a deck of cards and what-not. So, again, I certainly wouldn’t consider her a gamer in the same sense as myself.

    But, then there is my (half) sister who is a lot younger than me (I am 26, she is 10) who I actually would consider to be a gamer. She has a Gamecube and has a wide variety of games for it (mostly ones geared towards younger audiences due to her age). She’s a big fan of Sonic in particular (she practically eats, sleeps, and breathes Sonic), but she also plays many others. So, in her case, I would say yes, she is most definately a gamer.

    Now, then there is Meg, my fiance. She’s kind of a gray area. She is a huge Sims fan, and has just about every game and expansion of the Sims for the computer. When we met, She already had a PS2, but the only games that she had for it were Sims games. Since that time, she also bought a Monopoly game for it and Crazy Taxi (the latter of which I got her into). She also enjoyed a few of the Gamecube games that I had (mainly Smash Bros. and Animal Crossing), so she ended up getting one of those as well (and she also bought the Urbz, which was a Sims spin-off for it)We both got Nintendo DS’s at launch, but the only games that she really has for it and plays are the Urbz, Animal Crossing Wild World, and Nintendogs.

    Now, she obviously has a good amount of stuff? But is she a gamer? Well, she’s kind of a gray area. I mean, obviously she is a few steps above where my step-dad and grandmother were at. But still, her main interest tends to be in these Sims style games (Animal Crossing is kind of along those lines). As stated, there are a few other titles that she likes, but she tends to stick with this kind mostly. There’s nothing wrong with that (I actually am an Animal Crossing fan as well and have it for my DS), but she doesn’t tend to really get into games beyond those, and even then she goes though long periods of not playing at all.
    So, while I would consider her to be more of a gamer than my step-dad or grandma, I still don’t think she is a gamer in the same sense as someone who is really into video games. As I said, she tends to stick with the same few games, and her interest doesn’t expand much beyond that. And while she has 2 gaming consoles and a portable DS, simply owning those things does not instantly make someone a gamer (its a step in the right direction, but there’s more to it).

    In my eyes, a gamer, a true gamer, is someone really into the video games. Someone who takes a lot of interest in things like the recent E3 show and all of the new stuff on the horizon. It’s someone for whom this is a primary hobby,and not just something they do inbetween their primary interests and hobbies. (While my 10-year-old sister is young doesn’t have access to as much info about this stuff and may not be as into it as someone my age, the idea of new stuff coming out does excite her, so its still the same essential concept).

    Is someone who run around the block a few times each morning to burn calories a “runner” in the same sense as someone who runs professionally and competes in the Olymics?

    Is someone who goes to a movie theater and/or rents movies on DVD once or twice every few months a “movie buff”?

    Is someone who watches the occasional epiosde of Star Trek a “Trekky” like those who watch and know every episode, collect tons of merchandise, and attend conventions?

    I’m sorry, but none of those things are any different than this gamer arguement. Now, there are gray areas, and I recognize that. There are gray area in all of the comparisons that I just made (for example, someone may watch more than just a few movies a year, but fall into a gray area that its hard to say for sure if they are a ‘movie buff’). But the underlying point still remains.

    Having said all of this, I don’t think female gamers (meaning ones who are really into gaming) are all that common.

    And for the record, I am not trying to be sexist. As I pointed out, my step-dad isn’t much of a gamer. And, I wish there were more female gamers. I would probably find that I have a lot more in common with women as a result.
    But, in reality, the female gamers that I’ve met are few and far between. I don’t think its something that women “can’t” do…. its simply something that most of them *don’t* do. I’m sure there are some out there, but they must be hiding under a rock or something.

    The fact is that the only major female gamer that I currently know is my little sister. Some of her female friends are into them as well. That is one thing that I will say is that female gamers do seem to be much more common in the younger generation. But, when it comes to people around my age and older, its not nearly as common.

    I don’t mean any offense by anything, and I don’t see any reason why anyone should be offended. I am not trying to put down anyone’s interests, but the bottom line remains that there is a difference between a major GAMER and someone who just happens to play on occasion. And there’s no reason to be offend by that, esspecially on a sexist level. As I said, many guys, including my step-dad, wouldn’t get offended at the idea, so why should women?