Articles Chat Classic News Collectors List Comic Strips Contests Fan Fiction For Sale Interviews Links  
Message Board Online Arcade Postcards Publishing Puzzles Release Lists Staff Token Museum More!
Play Like a Girl
the Rise of Female Gamers

by R.L. Fielding

An ever-widening audience of female electronic game players is bringing new meaning to the phrase, “You play like a girl.” Despite the long-standing stereotype that dedicated electronic gamers are young and male, a number of studies have shown that adult women are giving the boys a run for their money, particularly in the online games arena.

More than half of the 117-million active game players in the US play online games and nearly 64% of these online game players are women, reveals Nielsen Entertainment’s 2006 Active Gamer Benchmark Study. These numbers are backed up by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)’s findings that “women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population than boys age 17 or younger.” Furthermore, adult women are also almost twice as likely as men to spend 20 hours per week playing PC games, reports the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Put simply, women of all ages love to play games.

So are women playing Halo all night long?

Not necessarily. These studies are using a broad definition of games, which includes old standbys like Solitaire and Hearts along with the more “hardcore” games like Halo. But that‘s what is so important about these findings– it’s not just the serious players that you typically think of who are spending the most time online. Women might not be playing Halo all night long, but they are devoting significant amounts of time to games like Slingo, Bingo and strategy games.

Anecdotal evidence supports that female players tend to gravitate toward games which are mentally or socially rewarding. This includes games with well-developed storylines and multiple options for female characters, multiplayer games with cooperative play capabilities, or those which call upon strategy and reasoning skills. Online communities for game players are popular with women as well for this same reason. The most popular games tend to be those which are easy to pick up and learn, yet at which it’s difficult to excel. Women like a good challenge, the same as men, but often can’t dedicate as much time to mastering complex game-play. Word games, puzzle games, board games, casino and arcade games fit the bill in this department as they can be played online in short bursts or for hours at a stretch. Casual games, such as Mahjong or Bejeweled, have proven to be hugely popular among female gamers. While female gamers may enjoy straight-forward shoot-em-ups or racing games, at the end of the day the games need to offer something more satisfying than just action or gore to hold their interest.

What does this mean for game makers?

With findings like these, it’s no wonder that the game industry is beginning to pay real attention to the growing demographic of female gamers. Publishers and developers are quickly realizing that their primarily male-focused products and messaging need a fresh approach to better target and tap into this consumer segment . While female game players already enjoy playing the same games as men across a variety of game platforms, there is an opportunity for the game industry to do more to attract the female audience in greater numbers.

Building a larger base of female game players doesn’t require a total departure from conventional game making, but rather a shift in perspective. In addition to hiring more women for hands-on development roles, game makers who haven’t already, should consider running focus groups with female players to find out what kind of games appeal to them and what they’d like to see in new games. By approaching game development and promotion from a more inclusive point-of-view, the industry can cash in on an already large and growing audience and give rise to a new era where everyone wants to “play like a girl.”

A BIG thanks to R.L. Fielding and Slingo for providing Good Deal Games with this article is a leading online destination for people who enjoy playing games, winning prizes and having fun. Slingo offers free, original online games, free multiplayer tournaments, downloadable games, and contests with cash prizes,
as well as a social-networking community for game players. For more information, please visit

R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.


Copyright © 2007, GOOD DEAL GAMES