Actually, About Half Of Gamers Are Women

Warning: Some links contain offensive language.

If you watched the Microsoft Xbox One E3 press conference this past week, you may have noticed not a single featured game had a woman protagonist. If someone you know argues the reason for this is that game makers are simply reflecting a womanless market, we’re here to prove them wrong.

A new study, “2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry,” reports that women make up 45 percent of all gamers and 46 percent of all “habitual video game purchasers.” In fact, adult women make up 31 percent of the video game population and boys under 17 only make up 19 percent. And in a study by Magid Advisors of people ages 45 to 64, about 61 percent of women play video games compared with only 57 percent of men.

It appears not everyone knows this. When Feminist Frequency recently tweeted out …

… there were more than 50 hate-filled replies, including many suggesting women aren’t gamers, or that women aren’t as good as men at gaming:

Unfortunately, there’s more:

And that’s not all of them. If you’re in a masochistic mood and want to make yourself angry, read some more replies to @FemFreq’s tweet.

Another old argument that pops up too often is that games with woman protagonists don’t sell as well as games with male protagonists. But this isn’t a reason to keep women out of games. The only reason those games aren’t selling as many units is because they only receive 40 percent of the marketing budget that male-protagonist games get.

As a last note, let’s take a quick look at another way the video game industry seems like a clubhouse with a “no girls allowed” sign. The aforementioned female-protagonist-lacking Xbox One E3 press conference further pushed women aside when the producer of the game Killer Instinct made a rape joke, telling the woman he was playing against to “Just let it happen, it’ll be over soon.” Yes, it was a rape joke and yes, it is a problem.

So let’s stop making half of the gamer population a minority in the games they play and start pushing to see kickass video game protagonists of all sexes and types.

Photo of gamer girl by Flickr user Mustafa Sayed, under Creative Common 2.0


Ponta Abadi, a graduate of the University of Oregon, is a former Ms. intern. Follow her on Twitter.