Gaming is often perceived as a hobby which is heavily dominated by men. This is especially true when thinking about heavy combat and sports games such as Call of Duty or Fifa.
However, according to a recently published study by Outform, a staggering 20% more women are gaming compared to pre-pandemic levels. The study collected data from over 1,000 gamers to help understand how gaming culture and player’s habits are changing. It may not be surprising that more women are gaming considering that the industry thrived during lockdowns, it’s the perfect Covid-19 safe hobby to distract from the outside world and pass time. However, what is surprising are the differences in male and female gaming habits.
Despite only a quarter of women identifying as ‘hardcore’ gamers compared to three quarters of men, women are actually more likely to spend long amounts of time researching and investing in paraphernalia that optimises their gaming experience. Furthermore, 49% of women are now likely to invest time in the action and adventure genre – a typically male sector of the gaming world.
So, why wasn’t gaming popular among women before the pandemic? Well, a lot of it is obviously due to an increase in free time. However, games that appealed to a larger proportion of female players were also released, such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Portable consoles like the Nintendo switch, which are perhaps more appealing to women gamers, also became popularised. There has also been a rise of female gaming YouTubers over the past two years, with female gamers such as iHasCupquake and SSSniperWolf receiving millions of views.
Traditionally gaming has been seen as a ‘male’ interest for a number of reasons. One of the most significant is that characters in games are far too often portrayed as stereotypes. The ‘sexy female gamer’ image is normalised in gaming, so it’s no wonder that some women might not want to partake in an activity that often overly sexualises their own gender. The lack of female input in creating these games might also relate to this issue, as well as to why many women do not feel welcomed by the gaming community. As it stands, only 24% of people working in the industry are women, which as Forbes pointed out, is an unusually low figure compared to other creative and cultural sectors.
The pandemic has given women the free time and opportunity to explore various types of games. This new fanbase can only help the gaming industry to continue to grow and improve its inclusivity standards. Hopefully, with this added push, we will continue to see more women joining gaming communities and possibly even wanting to work in the industry.
Gaming should, and can be, for everyone.