Gaming is mainstreaming these days with average gamers over the age of 34 years old that has been playing games for 12 years. The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old. Surprised? And many are women.
Social gaming is become a global phenomenon, last year was a breakout year for virtual goods in the US which had been only an Asian thing. The virtual goods industry in Asia generates about $7B a year in revenue, seven times the US, this means major valuation differences between Asia and US with China's nine largest public online game companies valued in the $50B range compared to the top four US companies that are valued in the $22B range. Expect to see continuous growth and new competitors, Apple will eventually join the party, may be 2013.
Many still think gaming is a boy’s things and I think this is worth challenging. Historically speaking, probably yes. Women and video gaming doesn't sound like a fit. In Simone de Beauvoir’s pioneering work (1949) on women, The Second Sex, created impressions of girls at play with their dolls. After the French Revolution then came the eloquent denunciation of housework. Then in the 60s, women in the US pushed liberal feminism that the pre-1914 period never done before. If you looked at the advertising between 1950s and 11960s you will know what I mean. Femininity has come a long way.
There are still a lot of mystique on femininity, these mystique transformed doing housework, bearing children and shopping into almost a religion, a lifestyle many women accept or reject. Consumer ideology continued to reinforce this mystique. Do women like this whole package or it is the ideal lifestyle projected onto them by advertisers and marketers? Did marketers and male media executive try too hard to fool women into paying for a femininity they did not need at all. Or was it a good thing after all? I don't want to get into this debate. But I do have a POV.
No question men like video games. Or there are simply not enough titles that are designed for women? I think women equally like video games. Columbia College Chicago hosted high school girls in a summit focused on gaming and gender equity. What they did was bringing together female game designers and academics to look at the female voice in the digital gaming industry. It is called the 3G Summit, like the name? The Future of Girls, Gaming, and Gender.
It was a four-day event that engaged young women from Chicago-area high schools in a series of discussions about young women’s place in the gaming culture. Video game is rapidly evolving and now delivered over smart phones, iPad and social network sites as part of social connectivity, consumer engagement, and cultural expression.
I think the women’s gaming market is largely untapped. Many games are beginning to look like interactive movies. Where is the equivalent of “Titanic” for video games? I can’t think of any video games that are built around romance. May be the 2008's Prince of Persia, but there's no player involvement, you simply follow the story along and the attempt at non-linearity makes the development of the relationship muddled and mostly nonexistent. I can’t think of a RFG that has a strong romance and sex theme. Here is a screenshot from a sex scene in the God of War.
Sex (not romance) is now part of many popular games, gone are the days when Mario and Luigi were jumping around looking for magic mushrooms. Some video games allow the player character to have sex or romantic relationships with NPCs, wonder how the logics were built behind those romantic relationships. I guess it comes down to enough talking and pick up some good weapons; they will start to like you. I am looking forward to see the first person romantic video game designed by women for women… the PS3 free online feature will proof to be very useful, the age of video gaming romance is here.