How Moms Became the Largest Gaming Demographic
By Jessica Oaks
You may not believe it, but the largest gaming group in the United States isn’t 12 to 15-year-old boys or 30-something males with a penchant for nostalgia. No, the largest gaming demographic is now women. And we aren’t just talking about a percentage point or two; in fact, the gap is quite wide. Reports from the Entertainment Software Association state that women account for fully 48 percent of the gaming populace. Though this may make perfect sense if one looks at the situation objectively – after all, females account for half of the population – this data quite definitely debunks the long-held stereotype that gaming is for boys only.
In some ways though, this news poses more questions than it answers. If women are now a larger gaming demographic than teenage boys, why is this the case? How did this transition take place? And what does it mean for the future of the gaming industry?
A Changing Landscape Embraces All
With the explosion in popularity of mobile and social media gaming, the traditionally male-centric video game industry has found that it appeals to a whole new demographic of players: namely, women. Though consoles like the Nintendo Wii did much to attract female players when it was introduced nearly a decade ago, it is the so-called “casual gaming experience” that has really blown the doors wide open.
Popular titles like “Candy Crush” and “Hay Day” can be enjoyed with little investment on the part of the player – there are no strategy guides, hundred-hour play times, or steep learning curves. And because these games can be played on a smartphone or social media platform, they are incredibly accessible. This accessibility and focus on simple game play seems to have struck a chord with an audience that up until recently had spurned video games – not because they were too difficult, but simply because they were unappealing.
Though many conclusions can be made based on this data, one thing that seems to be fairly evident is that smartphones and social media platforms truly are ecumenical. They don’t favor one gender over the other, and because of that, both genders have adopted these technologies with enthusiasm.
What Does the Future Hold?
In terms of gaming, the writing seems to be on the wall. By the end of 2015, data points to mobile becoming gaming’s biggest market. This is due in part, of course, to the popularity of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. But it is also due to advances in mobile technology. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, for example, has made it possible for mobile platforms to offer a gaming experience not unlike that found on desktop devices. This is allowing mobile games to make huge inroads into game niches that previously would have had little competition from the mobile market – games like first-person shooters, strategy and RPGs, and graphic-intensive titles. If you’re a betting person, you’d be well advised to put all of your chips on mobile.
What the future holds for female gamers, though, is a bit more up in the air. It doesn’t take much to see that many video game titles still lack female representation, and many more still treat female characters as little more than eye candy (if we’re being generous). Will game developers start developing more robust, enriching titles with a female audience in mind? While it may be true that much of the current female gaming demographic is drawn in by the casual mobile gaming experience, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a demand for more in-depth games. Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue, it may still be too early to tell what the future holds. Nevertheless, you can expect that women will continue to enjoy video games just as much as men do.