Girls Got Game!

In the vast land of video games, could it be that the industry is neglecting the girl population? Recent reports prove that girls like to get their game on just as much as boys do. But game developers seem to be missing the mark when it comes to making games that really get girls stoked!

Hey, Fair Play!
“The stereotype that only boys play video games is far from true,” says a recent Pew Research report. “Girls constitute a large (if not equal) percentage of total gamers.” The study found that of the 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed, a full 97 percent play computer, Web, portal or console games. Almost all of the boys -- 99 percent! -- report regularly playing video games, and girls aren’t far behind at a surprising close 94 percent.

Get This Party Started
According to a report titled Girl Power: Understanding This Important Consumer Segment, tween girls, ages 9 to 12, are particularly into virtual-world online games. “Girls, in general, are famously social creatures,” says industry analyst Anita Frazier. “The growth in use of social networking and virtual-world Web sites for girls is a natural extension of this core value, which needs to be recognized by manufacturers who count girls as a primary market for their goods and services.” Let us paraphrase: Game makers need to get a clue as to what girl gamers like!

Fun on the Phone
Seems girls are more likely than boys to engage in gaming on a cellie. Fifty-three percent of girls play games on cell phones, compared with fourty-three percent of boys, even though boys are equally as likely as girls to have a cell. But owning a phone isn’t necessarily a factor -- twenty-one percent of teens who play games on cells do not have one of their own.

Battle of the Sexists
Researchers who conducted a University of Maryland study of students with a mean age of 19 years determined that video games probably promote gender stereotypes. Who hasn’t noticed that most female video game characters are overly sexualized? The study found males were more likely to find such depictions acceptable, while the females weren’t so forgiving of unrealistic images that paint women as sex objects. The dudes thought of it as “harmless entertainment.” The gals saw it as a “negative influence.”

Boys vs. Girls
While there are nearly as many girl gamers as boys, the guys tend to spend more time at the console. Play every day? Thirty-nine percent of boys report daily game play, compared with twenty-two percent of girls. And when boys do play, they stick it out for longer periods: Thirty-four percent of boys and eighteen percent of girls play for two hours or more a day. Perhaps girls would put in extra playtime if there were more games to get them jazzed. Part of the problem is that women represent less than twelve percent of the game development industry. Organizations, such as Women In Games International and the International Game Developers Association’s Women In Games Special Interest Group, are working to enlist more women in the game industry. So don’t hit “quit” just yet!

by Kelly White