Females in gaming
While we are living in the 21st century, some practices we are maintaining are very much outdated. One of which that has personally affected me, and frankly still does, is the sexism that is running rampant in gaming communities. While it is a stereotype that gamer guys only game because they can’t get girlfriends, they don’t want women in their gaming communities either. Perhaps these guys just want nothing to do with women in any part of their lives. But, I digress.
Let’s get some statistics out of the way. How many women are even in the gaming community to begin with? Well males account for 70% of online gamers and viewers. So yes, they are the majority. But think of it this way: women account for the other 30%. That is not a number to sniffle at; that is a huge amount of gamers around the world.
Let’s be honest, there are just not a lot of female professional gamers out there. But they do exist. “Mystik,” also known as American Katherine Gunn for Halo: Reach and “Scarlett,” Canadian SaschaHostyn for StarCraft II, have earned well over $100,000 in prize winnings each. Female viewership in gaming bumped from 15 to 30% in 2013, showing a massive growth. But even then, pro female gamers are even more of a minority. There aren’t even female professionals League of Legends players in all of North America.
The pro gaming community gets a lot of flak for sexism. The low numbers can be explained with the sexist marketing strategies, encouraging men from 21 to 34, but essentially ignoring potential female gamers altogether.
Now one of the most irritating and sexist things about video games is the characters. There are few female protagonists and when there are females present, it’s more of a “damsel in distress” situation. Think back to good old Super Mario Bros. Who were the plumbers desperately trying to rescue? Princess Peach. Poor, sweet, defenseless Princess Peach. Were there any female protagonist options? No. It was a simple game, not a lot of options, but really it set the stage and provided a template so to speak of how mission gaming should go.
Back to my statistics. If you look across all of the major gaming platforms, from Blizzard to Microsoft, playable female protagonists only make up for 9% of any of the games. While there are some 35 or more games that offer the choice between male or female protagonists, only one of those games actually marketed that it had a female protagonist option.
Let’s be clear, games really only provide stories that are centered on men, rarely women, and they are continually reinforcing the idea that female experiences are not as fun or worthy as a male experience. I’m sure the gaming companies are thinking of their male gamers who they have already targeted, but they are leaving out a substantial portion of potential gamer possibility. Women don’t always want to play male story lines. And female storylines don’t have to be “women’s issues.” We want to fight and play, but it would be nice to have the storylines be more realistic for how we would perceive the world.
It would be nice to have some representation that what’s between my legs has no effect on how I play a game or makes me less marketable. Because we are marketable. Women make up for more than half the world. But no women are at the helm for gaming publishers. We are blocked out of the gaming industry and have zero control over it. Sexism is still here, it just wears a different mask.