I think this is probably because of the perceived element of competition in games such as WoW or Runescape (another online game). Girls tend to stay clear of the male stomping ground and focus almost entirely on ‘god sims’: games which give the player complete control over the denizens of a virtual world, such as The Sims — which is, incidentally, one of the largest selling games of all time. The female gamer market share is something most game developers can only dream of capturing. Another popular genre for those lovely female gamers are ‘dress up’ games, where there is more emphasis on a character’s appearance — there’s even a site dedicated to finding such games! The rather cutesy look of the site is probably an indication of the target audience.
Moving onto a more specific area — online gaming – Nick Yee’s research (The Daedalus Project) dwarfs every other body of work on the topic, even if its objectivity is hotly contested by many other academics. There are simply too many interesting statistics available from the project so I won’t bore you with them, but poke around if you’re interested in finding out more the new and exciting breed of online gamers — gamers like me.
The only pertinent statistic, is that 35% of all WoW characters are female — and only half of those are actually played by girls in real life. Not only does this mean that only 15% out of 11.5 million players are female, it also means that 50% of all female characters are being played by boys. Now, gender-bending isn’t a new thing! Tt’s pretty common in online games, where you interact with tens or even hundreds of people each day, and playing a female can give you a certain… edge. Female characters are given gifts, they receive beneficial treatment and generally have a much easier and enjoyable gaming experience than males. Someone is much more likely to stop and help you kill some big, gribbly beasty if you’re female. (Isn’t gribbly the best word ever?)
All of these things are real life phenomena too – this is just one example of virtual worlds imitating real life.
Sadly, in my guild, we only have about 5 girls (well, that I’m certain of), out of about 150 people. That seems a fair bit below the 15% Nick Yee suggests. On top of that, I think only 1 of those girls is an actual ‘free gamer’, and not in the guild purely because their boyfriend is there.
So, this is my attempt to drive more girls to online gaming in general, and my guild in particular. While it’s true that many people play online games like WoW for the competition, and being first, many people play just for the fun. There’s also lots of dressing up you can do, with thousands of aesthetic choices you can make to your character. I guess it’s by no coincidence that most girls prefer ‘Tolkein fantasy’ — they identify easiest with those lithe bodies and pointy ears, right? But still only 15% are female! We must increase that number! For geeky men like me all over the globe!
I think the problem is, at least for a hardcore guild like mine, is that the guys that I play with simply don’t get out. They don’t meet anyone, because games like World of Warcraft require a certain amount of time investment that makes socialising outside of the game a little difficult. I guess, considering women are much more social creatures than men, I’m not drawing a very good picture here. Let me recover with a pretty photo of my character:[singlepic id=34]
See, isn’t it PRETTY? A dragon! and swirly… magical things! Just ignore the skeletal dragon in the background.
Anyway, as I was saying, as the guys don’t get out much, they don’t get girlfriends — or at least socialise with girls. Without some kind of female contact, it’s quite hard to become socially adjusted — and you have to present yourself as a well-adjusted guild if you want to woo those few female players.
Girls just don’t appreciate it when they first thing they see upon joining the guild is ‘Argh, I’ve got itchy balls.’
So, girls, start playing an online game and adopt a geek today. Teach us the arts of grooming.
Today is a day of change, after all.