Cast aside the old stereotype that only men can be gamers. Women are now the majority within the video game community. However, it still seems that as characters within games, they are still obviously absent! The gender ratio has slowly been on the up since the 1990’s, and women are steadily being accepted into the gaming world, but sexism and underrepresentation of women as both creators and characters in video gaming is still very real.
In the Past
In 2006, the ratio between men and women playing video games in the US was very different to how it is today; 38% of gamers were said to be women and 62% were men. Why, in the last ten years have women become more prominent within the gaming community? Is it because times are changing, and women are becoming more accepted as their male counterparts equal? Or is it because games in 2016 are more accessible than they have been in the past? There has always been the stereotype that games are a pastime for young men, usually those in their teen years, but this may soon be changing.
A New Style of Game
In the past, video games were only available as physical copies, but these days you have downloadable content for Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and PC, web browser games, and Apps for iOS and Android for smartphones and tablets. A good example of how times have changed is by taking a look at bingo, yes that’s right bingo. History shows that bingo took place in old town halls, with all the old people, right? Now there are over 100 million players worldwide playing online, and 80% of these players are actually women aged between 30 and 50 years old! There is also a bigger variety of games now. Before, you just had very male oriented games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. But now you have games made specifically for the female audience, such as Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood game.
Today’s most popular gaming device is the smartphone!
Female Protagonists Within the Game
As much as female gamers are on the increase, video games containing a female protagonist are still in the minority. Even when the game includes them, the female game characters are usually hyper sexualised within the game, in an aim to draw in the developer’s intended audience, that being male orientated. Being able to choose to play as a woman in the game is often still considered to be an optional extra by game developers and publishers.
Who Plays Video Games?
So who is playing video games these days? A massive 52% of players identify as women, meaning that only 48% of video gamers identify as male. However, the games and game industry fail to represent the majority of their viewing audience.
Women in the Gaming Industry
It is said that within the gaming industry, women only account for 11% of game designers and 3% of programmers. Women video game programmers can earn an average of $10,000 a year less than their male counterparts in the workplace. Women designers also make $12,000 less a year than men doing the same job. Female workers within the video game industry are frequently subjected to unequal treatment, harassment and a hostile atmosphere. The industry is described as a ‘frat boy’ culture, for example companies in the past have hired topless models, and have sponsored parties with S&M themes at industry conventions.
So Why Doesn’t the Industry Realize It?
In the past the gamer community was more male orientated, and games were produced for their needs. Now that women are rivalling the number of men, I think that developers and publishers are unsure what to do, as the games that they’ve produced in the past have sold so well.
It makes sense for game developers and publishers to be more representative of their audience as games are for everyone, not just one race, gender or sexuality, and that’s a fact!