Oh, but they do. According to research, people who identify as female nowadays make up over 47% of all gamers. That is almost a half!

Some people have no interest in video games no matter what gender they are. The truth is, you can say that just about anything. Sports, gardening, hand crafts, cars, etc. It’s just the marketing that has thrown society off to believe that video gaming is a male dominated industry.

In the 1980s, video games were considered as a fun for the whole family. Then in 1986, Nintendo decided to market their console in the toy section instead of the technology section. As we know, the aisles were divided into boys’ and girls’ toys.

Of course Nintendo chose to place their console in the boys’ aisle, thus creating the idea that video games are for boys only.

Why don't women play video games?

Why Do Women Play Video Games Less Than Men?

Girls who are not exposed to video games from young age can grow up believing that video games are not for them. Kids who grew up in a gamer household often times engage with this hobby later in life as well.

My parents are not gamers, certainly not my dad. My mum played the occasional Solitaire game, Tetris, Mahjong and Minesweeper. Nowadays she plays those games on her phone.

Despite my parents not being huge into gaming, I had access to video games. My parents didn’t discourage me from playing them. We usually swapped video games on 3.5″ floppy disks with my friends or classmates. We could fit four (or more) cool new games on a 1.44 MB floppy!

(In hindsight, it probably wasn’t appropriate to let me play Doom and Wolfenstein in primary school.)

Why don't women play video games?

People often think that women aren’t as skilled at video games as men. A Stanford University study has shown that their motor skills are the same as men’s. The men have the slight advantage of learning the goal more easily and quickly.

Generally women are starting to be more open about their gaming habits and I hope this trend continues. There is no shame of liking video games, no matter your gender.

Did you know that female gamers are three times more likely to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers than women who don’t?

Why Don’t Women Enjoy Playing Video Games?

I imagine most of the time it would be for the same reasons that other genders don’t enjoy playing games. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Video Games Are A Waste Of Time

You and me, as gamers, would politely disagree but some people feel that they are simply a waste of time.

  • They require a lot of time and commitment.
  • The pervasive myth that women aren’t supposed to enjoy video games.
  • Some people simply don’t enjoy grinding for XP or objects but that’s common in gamer circles as well.
  • For some people plot-driven stories are simply boring.
  • Video games are expensive – and yes, some are, some aren’t.
Why don't women play video games?

Sensory Overload, Anxiety, Frustration

Everyone is wired differently, so what one person likes isn’t really the other’s cup of tea.

  • A lot of games, especially competetive multiplayer, are fast paced, loud, chaotic and can be causing sensory overload or even motion sickness.
  • Some people don’t like violence or scary games. Feelings of being chased, claustrophobia and similar themes can cause anxiety.
  • Lack of skill, frequent dying and the resulting lack of progress might lead to frustration, which makes a lot of people quit trying altogether.

Controllers

I have to admit that after years of keyboard and mouse gaming, holding a console controller felt really strange. I got used to it in time but the lack of accuracy is something to get used to as well.

Some people have smaller hands and controllers may be too bulky and uncomfortable for them. Especially in fast-paced video games where you have to press buttons quickly or do combos.

Women’s Portrayal In Games

Some women don’t like how women are portrayed in a lot of games – they are either a sex object, a romantic interest or a damsel in distress that needs rescuing.

Have you seen female armor in certain games? It’s more like armor bikini, as if women didn’t have the same weak spots to be protected by said armor. And not just the armor, some female characters really have an unrealistic bodily proportions. I really don’t blame women for not wanting to play games that objectify women like this.

A few women cited that there is a lack of quality female-centric video games. I would argue that nowadays there are amazing video games with great female protagonists. They’re still in the minorty, and it seems like developers are ignoring this part of the market, catering only to the heterosexual cis men.

Why don't women play video games?

Harrasment

Unfortunately it’s not uncommon to be harrassed in a multiplayer setting, regardless of gender. Women are more likely to be harrassed due to their gender but also for their skills. It doesn’t matter whether they’re good or not.

I was playing Assassin’s Creed 3 multiplayer on Xbox and my team ended up winning. One of the players from the opposing team used the same strategy over and over again, so I caught them easily. After the end of the match, they sent me a message, and I quote, “cheating b***h”. How lovely.

Misogyny can run rampant in video game communities and that is why most girls and women chose ambiguous usernames and don’t use the voice chat to avoid harrassment.

This is also why some women prefer singleplayer games to multiplayer games.

How Many Girls Play Video Games?

I’m glad you asked!

According to the US-based Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 48% of US gamers identify as female. This was one of the statistics in the annual Essential Facts About The Video Game Industry report based on a study done in February 2022.

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) conducted a similar study in 2020 and found that 47% of all gamers in Europe identify as female. These results were published in the 2021 Key Facts About The European Video Game Sector report. As you can see, the numbers are very close.

Both studies show, that the average age of a video gamer is around 31.3 (Europe) and 33 (US). The ISFE even went to specify the average age of gamer women in Europe as 32 years old.

Why don't women play video games?

What Video Games Do Girls Play?

When people are confronted with this question, they first think of casual games and mobile games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

But the correct answer is that girls play the same games that boys do. The only difference is the ratio – some games naturally cater more to the male audience (games like Call of Duty, CS: GO, Battlefield), while others attract women more (like The Sims franchise).

Women enjoy all kinds of video games. There are many women who love their PlayStations, Xboxes, gaming PCs and Nintendo consoles! There are women who love their Call of Duty games and at the same time like to chill in Animal Crossing.

There are women like me who love their Battlefields (except BF2042, we don’t mention that one) and Resident Evils but who also love The Sims.

Mobile Games

According to the ISFE, women represent 53% of the mobile and tablet gaming population. While that is a majority, 47% of men (+other genders) is not a negligible number!

There is this pervasive thinking that mobile games are not “real games”. Who gets to decide what is and what isn’t a “real” video game? Yes, some may be simple but have you seen the earliest video games like Pong? The lack of complexity doesn’t make it less of a game.

Besides, the technology advancement has made pretty much all our current smartphones very powerful. You can play games like Genshin Impact, Call of Duty, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile and much more.

There will always be other games like match-three, point and click, card games and more, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real games.

Gaming is a hobby, not a pass to some secret gamer club or some sort of achievment badge. You don’t have to play specific games on specific platforms to be considered a gamer. There’s no rite of passage.

Yes, mobile games can be played sporadically and for shorter periods of time but you don’t have to play every day for weeks on end to be considered a gamer.

If that was the reasoning, I wouldn’t be considered a gamer despite all the games that I’ve played. I can go months without touching a single game. I still consider myself a gamer even though I’m not actively playing them at that time.

Conclusion

48% of US gamers and 47% of European gamers identify as women. Women are less visible in gaming because they tend not to draw attention to themselves and/or prefer to play singleplayer games.

Women still face stigma when they express interest in video games. Girls growing up in a supportive household being exposed to video games tend to cultivate the hobby later in life as well.


Enjoy video games.

Keep being you. You are awesome.
Don’t let others bring you down for enjoying them.


References

  • 2022 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry (link)
  • 2021 Key Facts About The European Video Games Sector (link)
  • Anesa Hosein, 2019. ‘Girls’ video gaming behaviour and undergraduate degree selection: A secondary data analysis approach’ (link)



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