Why are so many people demanding AAA titles to be all feminist and stuff when women don't even buy those games?
The long and the short of it is… because they do. Let’s explore that thought a bit with some actual research, hm?
According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2013 survey, game players are 52% male, 48% female. Frequent game purchasers are split right down the middle - 50% male, 50% female. The average gamer is 31 years old. It’s worth noting that they specifically point out “women age 18 or greater represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population than boys age 18 or younger” - more than double.
The average adult gaming woman has spent 13 years playing games - that’s significantly longer than social or mobile gaming have been a thing for those counting. So what have they all been playing for all those extra years?
Let’s take a look at the top 20 selling console games of 2013.
- GTA V
- CoD: Ghosts
- Madden 25
- Battlefield 4
- AssCreed 4: Black Flag
- NBA 2k14
- CoD: BLOPS II
- Just Dance 2014
- Disney Infinity
- FIFA 14
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Skylanders Swap Force
- Pokemon X
- The Last of Us
- Pokemon Y
- NBA 2k13
- Bioshock Infinite
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes
- Batman: Arkham Origins
So it looks like a bunch of games that mostly cater to men, right? But if you look a little further…
- Call of Duty: Ghosts added playable female characters in Multiplayer. This actually prompted Battlefield developers to respond.
- Ubisoft was praised for their portrayal of Mary Read and Anne Bonny in AC4: Black Flag.
Looking at the rest of the games, I’m sure you can see how games like Just Dance, Pokemon, the Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Skylanders, and Lego games tend to be inclusive - they are either playable by everybody or have female characters that are well-developed and human rather than objects of desire. And that’s what I understand most feminist gamers actually want - they don’t want games to be all about women, they want games that treat women as people instead of objects, and for games to give them the option to play as women. Representation tends to be important for those who don’t have it and taken for granted by those who do.
Just to drive it home, there was also this Digital Games Market Brief published fairly recently from SuperData Research.
For people who own console devices, you’re looking at $2.5 billion spent annually on digital content in 2013, and the digital space is going through some massive growth - 26% from 2012 to 2013. This includes digital game downloads, DLC, microtransactions, subscriptions, etc. spread out over about 214 million players. 63% of these money-spending players were male, 37% were female, and the number of women is growing. It seems to be the height of foolishness to purposely ignore or offend 80 million potential customers when you don’t have to - especially when there’s always another AAA game waiting in the wings to take those customers that could have been yours. That’s a lot of money to be left on the table.