Why Women Don’t Play Games


Daniel Floyd might just surpass Yahtzee for me after this video in his series of “lectures” on the video game industry. While Yahtzee is hilarious with his cartoon reviews tearing down almost ever game he comes across, Floyd uses the same medium to create very funny, but also very informative and well researched videos about general issues of the gaming community in general.

His take on why women don’t play games doesn’t have ALL the answers, but it does make a number of great points. Watch above.

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  1. Hehee, he mentions sci-fi as a possible turn off for girls.

    I’m a girl, I play a lot of games and I love sci-fi ^^ Against all stereotypes, yay.

    (Also, I think I may have my first ever ‘first!’ here xD)

  2. Cool video. But he doesn’t really explain why it’s important that more girls play games. Well, from the game makers point of view it’s obviouse, because then they make more money.

    I like the part about the hot girls claiming to play games to draw attention and maybe make some money. ^^

  3. I’m a girl gamer; I like playing N. Gaiden and PoP hate FPS games.
    My thoughts to why majority of girls don’t like gaming:

    1. We are a pack mentality. Most people I have found to love gaming and such like tend to be a certain sort or have been portrayed as such. You tell people you like gaming and they give you that ‘look’, no one wants that ‘look’. Why there are those pix of naked chick gamers? Maybe they want to show that they are not ugleh geeks, even though they dye their hair in moronic colours and dress odd.

    2. Time and Focus issues: All that time you spend playing game you can go shopping, gossip online. watch tv so you aren’t left out of convos at school or work.
    It is very hard to focus on a game. You can’t gossip effectively on MSN and not miss that vital clue ingame. I can’t focus 100% on a game, my laptop is nearby and I’m watching something off the net. In general, hardcore gaming gets in the way of other just as pointless things. We do have a lot going on.

    3. ‘Grizzled Space Marines’ – They are ugly. Replace them with Robert Pattison look-alikes and some dialogue we can follow without knowing morse code and weird abrreivs and we may talk then.

    4. Vanity- Many women don’t want to be reminded that they have small boobs, an ass is like; a pancake, too big, too small, jellyish etc and can’t kick a chimera’s butt. All this talk of oversexism is just low body part esteem underneath. They have to compete with other more perfect seeming women they dont want to have to compete with actualized imaginations too.
    Case in point my No5 comment isn’t that sexism too. Uber hot guys are just as unrealistic and uber endowed girls.

    5. Why does anyone want to stand in line for hours when you can get it online? That kind of suffering is just pointless for books or games.

    6. Stereotyping – If girls knew about those cute little indie games that are all about music and colouring and wind and flowers and such nonsense and make all those repetitive cute noises, that are popping up like mushrooms, you may find more girls on consoles and if they are multi-player all the better. But because the big games like, Halo and its ilk have more exposure they may have it ingrained into their subconsious that all games console are like that. Also do you have the patience to watch your girlfriend or female pal learn how to play, learn what controls to what? You grab it out of their hand halfway through and tell them they suck and you’ll show them how its done, then you go ahead and make them all the more confused. Someone tried to teach me pool just the same way.

    To be honest, there a lot women that just don’t want to know and ‘draw the line’ themselves. Because all these ideas and barriers can be swept away and be gotten over but what’s being human without throwing up imaginary obstacles.

    God, that was long winded. Peace.

  4. If you prefer being bored by a bunch of non-solutions and speculations instead of being entertained, then you should definitely stick to this guy instead of Yahtzee.

  5. @Mumu

    Wow, thanks for that explanation, I think I’m going to have to quote you in a future piece about this issue.


    Ever the constructive commenter, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  6. I’m not going to watch the video, because its based off an incorrect assumption.
    According to the Video Game infographic you posted Friday, it shows that 2/5 gamers are women. That means 40%

    How can women not play games if 40% percent of gamers are women?

  7. @Matt

    He makes a point in the video that in all likely hood most of that 40% is due to casual gaming and not what we’d call hardcore gaming. He’s more trying to address why we don’t see as many women standing in line for GTAIV as we do men, and possible solutions for the gaming industry to rectify that.

  8. That was pretty interesting. Then again, I don’t mind the overly sexy female characters. There are sexy men characters too. As much as people don’t want to admit, unless the game is awesome, no one wants to play as an ugly girl character for 30 or so hours. People like looking at good looking people and there is nothing wrong with that. Anyways, i love video games and can’t wait for the new bioshock!!!!

  9. interesting video. I thought the Lara Croft comment in the video was spot on. We need more strong women characters in video games. Most female characters now days are just a gimmick to draw in the male audience. Case in point, I’m currently playing Bayonetta. There are in game sequences that make me wonder really…

  10. mumu: “You grab it out of their hand halfway through and tell them they suck and you’ll show them how its done” As this was listed under your “stereotypes” section, does that mean that you are presenting this as another stereotype- the boyfriend who can’t stand to let his girlfriend play? Because a stereotype is exactly what that is, and it’s one I think many of us (males) would take offense at.

    I think the point in the video about how marketing can corrupt character design is a fantastic one. Some people complain about the design of female characters in games being idealized caricatures of the female form, but they ignore that the male game characters are just the same. It’s just that, probably in large part due to the target audience of most hardcore (as in, not casual) games, you don’t get the same marketing spin on the male characters. Marcus Whatzisname from Gears of War is just as absurd in proportion as Lara Croft or any of the DOA girls, but because the games are targeted as males, so the ladies are sold as hot while the men are sold as bad-asses.

    It would be interesting to look into this with game genres in mind- just off the top of my head I expect you get significantly more of the over-muscled archetypes in FPS games, but in, say, RPGs which are more gender neutral you get less of the over-muscled freak and more of the lithe, almost feminine male like you see in the Final Fantasy games, for example. Hmmmm.. I may have to do some solid research on that.

  11. Well, Lara Croft ads have never made me to even think about trying the game and I play a lot of games.
    Naked man will not attract me too, I don’t know what will exactly help but different approach is needed for sure.

  12. I’m from Spain and I loooove your blog.
    I’m a gamer girl and I agree with your friend’s statement and yours.
    Maybe I’m not afraid of “big boobs” characters, but the amount of “loooook!! It’s a girl playing videogameeeeeessss” all the time.
    They always tell me that I’m a fraud, and I’m a big fat guy trying to be a girl online.
    Screw them 😉

  13. I’m a girl gamer also and I agree with Gina. I get really tired of the “You’re not a girl, show us your boobs.” mentality. I really don’t mind the big boobs on most characters; in fact, I laugh at the ridiculous ways boobs bounce in most games. Dear me, if I bounced like that, I would have black eyes all the time! 🙂

    BTW, it’s usually me taking the controller out of my husband’s hand and showing him how to do things. He’s very mono focused and really can’t grasp all the different button functions. My son and I usually have to sit and help him play a game all the way through because he won’t remember what needs to happen to get your character to do something. He’s not stupid, just very used to his computer and only using certain keys for only certain things.

  14. Being another girl gamer, I very much appreciate the message in Paul’s video.
    Also, Mumu, Chris, and Gina; fantastically said. I couldn’t agree more.

    An example of where the “hardcore” game developers have gotten it right is in the Uncharted franchise. I think Naughty Dog did a wonderful job while creating their Elena character.
    Elena is a strong, witty, intelligent woman who retains her femininity despite the fact that her boobs aren’t massive, and she dresses like most of us ladies would actually dress if we were Indiana Jones-ing around. Basically, Elena is sexy without being one dimensional, and *SPOILER ALERT* she (not Chloe who is more of the video game stereotype) gets the guy in the end of Uncharted 2.
    Yes, I know Elena is an AI in the franchise, but I think she, and characters like her, are a step in the right direction. I’d love it if someday, Naughty Dog would allow Elena to have her own game, or at least step out of Drake’s shadow in the Uncharted franchise by giving her her own levels or something of that sort.

    I’d also like to touch on something Gina and Chris mentioned; online game-play is NOT female friendly.
    I love the interaction of the multi-players. The idea of playing with and talking to people from around the world is fantastic! However, I feel like 9 times out of 10, the male players don’t want me there, and I’m treated as if I’ve infiltrated their precious boy’s club.
    I’ve found myself ganged up on, propositioned, treated like a freak, called fat, etc etc etc. To be a girl and hold your own in an online multi-player, you have to have much more than skill; you have to have a strong backbone. A foul mouth doesn’t hurt either.
    Yes, I could always turn off my voice (which I never want to, because I love to socialize), but even then my xbox live gamertag is one that obviously belongs to a female.
    I’m a girl, and I like being a girl. I shouldn’t have to masquerade as a man in order to stave off the sexual harassment and uglier-than-normal comments that I’m sure most female gamers get while playing multi-player. The only solution I can see to this is a paradigm shift among male gamers, which is no easy task.

    I just wish there were a hardcore game that was marketed to women. I’m not into the fairies and ponies and puppies that game developers seem to think all of us love. If there are any suggestions, please let me know!

  15. @Jorn: I didn’t mean only guys with their GFs, I do that to my friends too^^
    @Red01angel: It’s sad to hear about your experiences. I fortunately have never encountered this, but I dont have a Xbox, therefore I am not exposed the horrors of Xbox live. I own a PS3, meh. They ask to see your boobs ‘cos they need real boobs to fap to^^. My multiplayer interaction come in form of MMORPGs, I have had the fortune of meeting really nice and well mannered guys. Although they always seem to do a triple take when I reveal that I am female.
    @Chris: I’m happy that there are other women in the world not so full is self esteem issues that can handle pixel beauties. I remember when the whole over-sexualisation of females in games palaver was coming to light and I was like ‘…what on earth are they on about?’ Maybe I’m just a thick nigerian^^

  16. I love playing video games! Prolly because I spend more time with my dad who loves video games. But seriously I’ve been playing video games since the Super Nintendo and I love watching my dad play his games. Unless it’s Call of Duty, which I don’t mind watching…it’s just that all the shooting and stuff gets a little too much.

    Anyways….I spend most of my time on the computer using photoshop or doing something techie and smart (lol), but when I can I’ll go play Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy, or even James Bond with my brother. I definitely feel like I can’t play video games at all, when my brother says that I can’t play, plus he gets way too competitive.

    But when I don’t beat the game at the same time my brother does, it’s like…you suck at video games. My response….No I don’t think I do. I just like to get all of the extra stuff lying around. I’ve had every gameboy that came out and I’ve played tons of games, I know what I’m doing.

    Spyro was the best game ever…I have all of them. I also have all the Kingdom Hearts games that have been released in the States. I’m working on the Final Fantasy series and I have the first one on the Wii. I also like the Meet the Robinson game and other games that involve more that shooting someone. I like how you have to figure out the story line or solve a mystery like on all of my Nancy Drew games. I might even play Batman: Arkham Asylum since my dad is finished with that game.

  17. Why don’t more women play videogames?

    Who cares.

    Let them do what they want. The industry knows who spends the money, and over its lifetime has probably tried everything to maximize profits, including trying to get into female wallets as well.

    It didn’t work out well enough to devote time and money to marketing for women, for whatever reasons. They moved on. Why don’t you?

    Let the pro’s handle this little boy. They know how this industry works better than you ever will.

  18. Like Supergirlfan27, I play the Nancy Drew games.

    Heroic games where characters fight against an enemy and win will bring in largely male audiences, just as movies of the same sort do.

    I and my friends watch so-called chick flicks, filled with romance and drama; but we also watch mysteries, comedies, sci-fi, and some heroic stuff that don’t involve too much gore, violence, guns, or profanity. I know of some girls who like horror.

    I’m not saying games should copy movies, but I would like to see some rethinking on the genre of games.

  19. I have to say that the most memorable female role model character in a game was actually Commander Shepard (the female version) from Mass Effect 1-2. It was really empowering playing a female who kicks ass and has her own ship and everyone treats her with respect because of her accomplishments. The experience isn’t exactly the same as playing the male Shepard as you do get stereotyped by some of the NPC’s and such, but it was great to play as that strong feminine character. If Bioware had actually included trailers with the female Shepard and tried marketing Mass Effect towards more than just the guys who like the grizzled war vet, then they could have seen a huge boost in sales from the female audience. It has character customization (you can be male/female, white, black, spanish, asian, etc…) and an awesome storyline.

  20. Oh, and also so many guys make fun of me for playing the Nancy Drew games, but they are great puzzle games similar to the Myst style gameplay and it is definitely fun and works your mind. It’s a good break from simple fighting games (which I like too though). I think that guys just don’t give Nancy Drew a chance b/c they think the game is going to be really girly b/c the main character is a female and they stereotype Nancy Drew into a girly girl. If the games were made with a male instead, I bet guys would like it more too.

  21. You don’t just see hot girls in games, you see attractive males. A good example is maester seymour in ffX, who has a vampire-like demeanor that chicks dig. I believe the competitive nature of video games is what drives girls away. Just look at the games they do play: They involve taking care of pets and dressing up characters in fashionable clothes. I remember the one final fantasy that was all about clothes seemed to be popular with the girls. Even some of those games had big-titted women in them, but you didn’t see them complaining. Girls and boys are driven to like different things, either because of hormones or because of conditioning or whatever. You have a point, though: As a straight male gamer, I would be averse to playing a game that has a muscular oiled up dude making eyes at me and sticking his bulging crotch out.

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