For decades, the gaming industry was heavily associated with the male gender. The image of teenage boys populating arcades, basements and living rooms was pervasive, and games in general were thought to appeal to the male psyche far more than the female, with guns, explosions and machismo only ever flirting with the notion of femininity through the use of absurdly busty in-game characters. Today, though, the situation has changed enormously, indeed, more so than one might imagine.
Last year research was conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau in to the state of female gaming in an effort to quantify what industry pundits had assumed for years. The results were somewhat surprising, with it being revealed that some 52% of gamers were, in fact, women. Why was this the case? Weren’t the majority of gamers having their gaming sessions fuelled by copious amounts of testosterone?
Aside from the rather obvious fact that a fairly large proportion of women have playing games for decades, hidden via the male-leaning world of game advertising, the way in which people play has changed over the past decade or so. No longer are all games rather long, laborious creations, requiring hours of play time and patience to play. Today an explosion in smartphones, tablets and social networking sites have brought forth a new, more casual, way to game, a means of playing that is far more inclusive to the droves of women that may have been put off of the pastime by the guns, repetition and heaving chests of gaming’s yesteryear.
Take, for instance, online casinos. Today, sites such as Lady Lucks, which offer players the ability to play quick, casual games via their smartphones, have exploded in popularity, with players able to play via Facebook, app or website, all whilst winning small amounts of money in the process. It’s a way of playing that has never truly existed before, and to anyone wanting to enjoy twenty minutes of fun, often whilst socialising with friends or family via the sites, it’s a perfect mix of fun, speed and reward that very much appeals to women.
Yet despite the boost in female player numbers, and the boost in types of game available to them, there are still gender-based deficiencies in the gaming industry that, in 2015, really should have already been addressed. In Britain, one of bastions of the global gaming industry, only 22% of designers, and 3% of programmers, are women. When it comes to speakers at conferences, the numbers are incredibly small. Although this is likely acting as a hindrance to the potential of the industry, one can only hope that the fact that most gamers are now female will provide an impetus for male-populated developing and publishing houses to add a dose of equality to their workforces.