Written by Kate McCabe

In The News

Love The Player. Love The Game

The margin may be tiny, but women are the largest demographic of gamers. Are you midcore or hardcore? Who cares, says Kate McCabe; let’s stop yucking people’s yums and all just core together.

Pac-Man carved from fruitEarlier this month, Women’s Media Center tweeted a story from late 2014 that declared that adult women, against all previous assumptions, are actually (by a very small margin) the largest demographic of gamers. This was big news, shattering the gaming industry’s previous postulations.

There were those in the gaming community who immediately disputed the study. But in December 2015, a new study showed similar numbers. And there have been several since (including a recent Pew survey), which at the very least show the numbers to be more or less an even split. An even split, of course, is still far higher than previously assumed.

So, what do you do if you’re a bit of a troll and don’t like this information but you can’t argue the numbers? You look to deconstruct the definition of ‘gamer’. For decades, the prevailing notion has been that with games it’s the young man’s dollar that matters, meaning software developers focus marketing on that audience.

For whatever reason – perhaps an irrational fear that if the focus shifted off of male interests even just a little, we’d drown in a deluge of Bread Kittens sequels – that demographic has lashed out with great vehemence at these studies and at the very idea of a female gamer.

Mostly they dismiss the lady gamer by deriding their choice of game. “Candy Crush and Angry Birds don’t count!” they furiously mash out on their keyboards. “Nor do casual PC games like puzzles or word games. Also, men are just BETTER at games,” they wail. See this real quote I’ve just lifted from an IGN thread:

ive never lost to a girl or been outclassed by a girl in any videogame
one of my ex gfs had a halo xbox, a decent collection of games only because she liked the attention… I played halo with her sometimes, I would tone it down and let her kill me, ya know to be a gentlemen… one time she accused me of not trying and to do my best… so I tried…smoked her 50 to 0 …. girls fucking suck unless guys are letting them win
this is just one example but their are many more just like this

Spelling and syntax errors remain unedited. Reading this back, I feel so fortunate that my circle of male-gamer pals walk upright.

“When I was 12, I made more than $100 at my lemonade stand and I spent it all at the arcade on Rampage and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

The argument is that what girls play isn’t hardcore enough to count. What does a hardcore gamer play, you might ask? It usually involves: shooting, driving, zombies and the end of the world. Admittedly, those things are boss. But that’s not the point. I have some thoughts about not only the publication of this study, but the vehement reactions it elicited:

• Hey gamers, let’s not go around bragging about our cores. Those of us who play games don’t usually have any core strength thanks to the lack of exercise we engage in.

• There are many women who enjoy games beyond the mobile and casual sphere. In fact, the accusation that women ONLY enjoy Facebook games is wrong. The average female gamer estimates that they have been gaming for approximately 13 years. Most FB games have only been around for five.

• It might also amaze you to know that many women enjoy beer, oral sex, and rock’n’roll. Multiple reports confirm that women are able to understand and enjoy ‘fun’.

• It’s fantastic that women are even labelling themselves as gamers at all. How empowering! Even if you ARE starting with something mobile, like Bejeweled Blitz, maybe you’ll eventually discover you like role-playing or action games. Or not! And that’s OK. There’s a reason games like Bubble Witch are crazy popular. They’re delightful. The first step in your gaming journey is to come out of the closet. Embrace your hobbies!

Rampage screenshot• Stop yucking people’s yums. Games are a fantastic escape. Let’s not bring nasty elitism into it. Sometimes I think if women everywhere were playing first-person shooters the most, gaming snobs would decide THOSE weren’t ‘real’ games. What’s your problem, bro?

• Did you know that the fastest growing gamer population is women over 50? Next time your Aunt Linda sends you an invitation to FarmVille, TAKE IT. Maybe you’ll like it. Then maybe you can show her how to play FIFA online with you. The family that levels up together stays together.

• Let’s stop gendering games. Some old ladies like Nathan Drake-ing around in ancient ruins. I bet your brother loves Ruzzle.

• Gaming firms should hire some more women. Only 12 per cent of British game designers are female. A trifling 3 per cent of programmers are women. Women have legally earned their own money for tens, no hundreds of years now. Our cold hard cash is just as pretty as anyone else’s. Women are ALREADY playing games they didn’t develop. Can you imagine how exciting it would be if they were allowed to innovate?

I identify as a gamer. I’m tearing myself away from gameplay hour 52 of The Witcher 3 to write this article. I’d probably describe myself as midcore. I like all sorts of games. Always have. When I was 12, I made more than $100 at my lemonade stand and I spent it all at the arcade on Rampage and TMNT [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]. True story.

Thinking about my early gaming years, I remember my Mom LOVED playing Atari with us. She was an ace fighter pilot on River Raid, which she adorably called River Rat. We had great times together. There was no pushback on us. We just enjoyed it. The misogyny should be made unwelcome by the community. There’s room for everyone.

@katemccabesays

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Written by Kate McCabe

Kate McCabe is an American comic living in Manchester. When not gigging as a standup, she improvises with ComedySportz Manchester, and contributes to local TV and radio including The Gay Agenda on Fab Radio.