Nowadays, everyone knows that moderate playing of video games can be beneficial. Gaming can improve motor skills, problem-solving skills, improve cognitive function, spatial awareness, creativity, create new friendships, including other benefits, according to prominent news publications. However, this was not the prevailing point of view in the '80s, back when video games had their breakthrough.
Since then, and up until relatively recently, the perception was that only boys play video games. Today, we know that at least half of gamers are women. Zynga, the creator of Farmville, reports that more than half of their players are women, and roughly 60% of teenage girls play video games. A USA Today report from last year stated that "more women play now than teen boys do". Seemingly, the societal gaming demographics has reached a tipping point in playing habits, yet the industry workforce does not reflect this change.
Women still under-represented in the gaming industry
Unfortunately, this change in numbers has not majorly affected the industry workforce yet, even in the progressive Great Britain. According to the UKIE survey results, 28% of the gaming industry workers were female in 2019. Fortunately, some light can be seen in the darkness. A recent publication from a leading affiliate company working with online casinos in the UK shows how local iGaming companies can influence the workforce and reduce the vast gender gap.
Other companies are also spearheading the change. Zynga is empowering women to take on jobs in the field. More locally, the UK-based game developer, EA, is also taking steps to encourage women to participate in the gaming industry.
The rise of female gamers
PopCap Studios, a subsidiary of EA Games, surveyed almost 5000 social gamers in the US and the UK, and their findings are astounding: 58% of social gamers in the UK are females, aged 43 years on average. The Entertainment and Software Association, THEESA's research supports these findings. According to its 2020 survey, 64% of adults, and 70% of people underage, play video games regularly, and the average gamer is between 35 and 44 years old.
In other words, nearly half of all gamers are women! About 36% of all players are adult women, while only 17% are teenage boys. The facts show that adult women play more video games than teenage boys, although boys this age are often the target group for big video game companies.
So, consumers' demographics have changed dramatically, but female programmers and game designers remain a rarity. The trend is also representative of British students. According to the education campaign WISE, just 9% of female graduates in 2018 studied a core Stem subject, even though most enrolled students at universities are women.
Female game makers – What do the statistics say?
According to statistics from the International Game Developers Association, 11% of game designers are women, and only 3% of game programmers are women. However, it doesn't mean that there are no prominent women in gaming. Fortune Magazine features 10 powerful women in gaming production, and female-founded production companies like Her Interactive and Silicon Sisters are slowly gaining traction.
Since most students and most gamers are female, there is a noticeable gap in supply and demand. The demand is the creation of games suitable for a female audience. Perhaps it is due to biology that the IT and Tech fields are under-represented by women, like the "gender equality paradox" hints at, or maybe the reasons are cultural.
If the gap boils down to culture, initiatives such as those mentioned in this article could be used more broadly. However, what is certain is that there is a place in gaming production for females to create games that are more appealing to their primary audience.