I love playing video games. I am proud to call myself a gamer because that's what I do daily. I regularly play on my PS4, iPad, or on my phone. I am a fan of all types of genres, such as shooters, RPGs, or puzzle games, you see me interacting with some screen. However, I hate that there's still a stigma of female gamers. When I meet someone new, it always seems like it's such a surprise that I like to play video games. It shouldn't be a surprise anymore because of how much video games are a part of pop culture, along with our favorite TV shows or movies.
It’s slowly becoming recognized as a normal hobby and not a “waste of time”. However, it’s even a bit harder for female gamers because of the stereotypes that have been developed when gaming was first introduced to our society.
Girls as Gamers vs Boys as Gamers
Female gamer. Female pro gamer. Why can’t it just be a gamer? Female gamers are just like any other gamer out there. We buy our games, play them every day, and we rage-quit when we can’t get past a certain level or solve a puzzle just like any other passionate gamer.
However, the term, “female gamer”, is used only because gaming was always perceived as a male activity. We can blame advertising and the media for that because it was targeted to the male audience. You can see it in the 21 Classic Nintendo Commercials from the '80s and '90s here.
The majority of these commercials in the 1980s and 1990s always featured a male lead. Do you see a female lead playing a popular game in a commercial during these decades? But there are female lead characters like Tomb Raider or Metroid however, they’re rarely seen as a popular figure for girls to relate to.
We should start seeing female gamers the same way as any other male gamer enjoys their gameplay. We all grew up with it, play the same game, and we all have different skill sets. But our gender shouldn’t determine what we do and don’t like.
Expanding games past Candy Crush and the “fun and cute”
It’s a bit unfortunate that there are games that target specifically females, like Nintendogs or Candy Crush. In this Kotaku article, a study with interesting female gamer statistics shows that:
Women make up about 70% of match 3 and family/farm simulation games’ audiences. About half of casual puzzle and atmospheric exploration games are played by women, too. The gender ratio plummets when we get to first-person shooters, tactical shooters, and racing games. At the bottom of the chart, a mere 2% of sports game-players are women.
But that doesn’t mean females don’t like any other games. I personally see a lot of other females like myself, enjoying Destiny and Overwatch. If you login to Twitch, you can see there’s a lot of female gamers enjoying shooters, RPGs, and MOBAs too.
There are even all-female esports teams for CS: GO and League of Legends. So there is interest by women for all types of gaming genres where they have the potential to become professional gamers.
The gender gap in gaming
In 1982, about 80% of the gaming community consisted of male gamers where only 20% of gamers were females, based on the study from a sociologist, Sidney Kaplan.
Nowadays, the gaming community is nearly split in half between the two genders. Since 2012, female gamers makeup to about 47% of the gaming industry and has stayed consistent to this present day. Even though it’s still predominantly male, this just shows that females have increasingly shown interest in the last 30 years.
However, women working behind the scenes in the gaming industry is still an uphill battle. Polygon reported that 10% of men earn about $150,000 more than their female counterparts while only 3% of women make just as much as men.
While there is still a huge pay and gender gap, they are still part of an industry that helped shape our community. Just recently, earlier this year at The Game Awards, they honored Carol Shaw, the first female game developer. Her work contributed to bringing a lot of Atari games to life and Activision’s popular game, River Raid. It only took about 30 years for her to finally be recognized as an Industry Icon.
But there is hope for the female gamers in the future!
There’s definitely room for improvement in the gaming community in the years to come. Slowly, but surely, females are finally being accepted as true gamers and competitors, however, the stereotype is still alive for some people.
Females work twice as hard in the gaming industry because we have to prove to not only males but also non-gamers that we are capable of enjoying and creating these wonderful virtual worlds.
I would love to see more females coding and developing their own games, participating in esports and winning competitions, and creating more characters that aren’t sexualized or have chainmail bikinis as armor because that logically doesn’t make any sense for any medieval fantasy.
As we enter the year 2020, women have so much more to share as gamers and growing the community to let them know those female gamers just simply want to be recognized as a gamer. Men and women all grew up on the same games, used the same controller, and suffered through all the high and low emotions that come with the passion for video games. If you wanted to know more about how to get in the industry of pro gamers you should check out our article on "How to become a professional gamer" and make sure you follow the right path for success within this awesome industry.