What TVE really wants for Christmas is… female gamers to be acknowledged

What TVE really wants for Christmas is… female gamers to be acknowledged

Picture your target consumer getting excited about a brand new piece of content. Imagine their eyes lighting up as they play for the first time. Imagine their delight as they break new levels and records.

You’re picturing a guy, aren’t you?

Because traditionally, gamers are guys – women just aren’t as interested in that sort of thing. Women aged between 25 and 45 in particular are not top of mind when we develop new games and consoles. Isn’t it surprising, then, that a game that in the last 5 years has been downloaded 2.73 billion times counts this as its core demographic, with 62% of its players being female?

The game in question is Candy Crush. It’s the mobile game that sends you round a dazzling world of collectable sweets with the game’s heroine, Tiffi, and Mr Toffee. Before you think it, bright colours and shiny sugary goals are not what make it so successful with what the industry deems as atypical gamers. As Stylist magazine* reported earlier this month, a Quantic Foundry survey of 270,000 people conducted last year found the reasons for men and women playing games differed: while many men opted for “competition” and “destruction”, women were more likely to choose “completion” and “fantasy”. The mobile format, which allows more dipping in-and-out and quick-fire gaming may therefore have made Candy Crush more appealing to busy women in this age range. It does not go unmissed, either, that in an industry whose female workforce average is 18%, King (owners of Candy Crush) boasts a higher (if not perfect) 28%. The exact reason is unclear, but this game’s success is not.

So why are more not making the most of this demographic who in reality count for up to 50% of the gaming community?** Partly, it comes down to the industry’s narrow and arguably self-fulfilling definition of ‘real gaming’. Although many women find themselves addicted to Candy Crush or up until the early hours glued to their computer screen, men self-define themselves as ‘gamers’, because the public and the industry are reluctant to accept non-console games into the ‘hardcore gaming’ definition. Furthermore, those games that are acknowledged as worthy of the ‘gamer’ sphere seem to be conceived of, developed and marketed with very unbalanced input.

From the characters whose eyes you see the world from, to the reward mechanisms within the game, it’s not that women have not been engaging with gender-neutral content, it’s that content & consoles have been made with the opposite sex top in mind. Both within an organisation and within the industry, it will take bold brands to go against the grain and realise the huge potential that women gamers present. If your current customer base is heavily leaning towards the male sex, it might be worth questioning why that really is, and how you can change it.

Source: *Stylist Magazine Issue 393* The Verge

Lucinda Toole Lucinda Toole