The business of being a female gamer

The business of being a female gamer

Hi, my name is Alex, and I’m a girl gamer. There, I said it. I feel better now.

It’s a fact about life that should surprise no one; there are girls who like to play video games. 

But for some reason this statement still appears, in the minds of many, to be an oxymoron.

A journalist recently complained on Twitter about the fact that there weren’t any games announced at the Xbox One E3 press conference with female protagonists. The vitriol she received (including several calling the journalist a word rhyming with ‘grunt’ as in, ‘My macho defensive backlash and tendency to grunt obscenities springs from a deep insecurity’), as well as the myriad tweets saying things like ‘only boys play games’, was pretty staggering for it being 2013.

(The comments suggesting baking and flower arranging games weren’t for console launches prompted many tweets from gamer guys stating they’d love to play Super Flower Arranger Extreme: Ultimate Bouquet Battle!)

I enjoy gaming immensely and I have many friends, both female and male, who do also. We all spend (far too much) money on games and I know said friends would be interested in shelling out for a well-written female lead in a good game (provided it had enough weird Easter Eggs, obviously).

Considering the amount of games available, there just doesn’t seem to be that many strong female leads. Yes, there are some, but more often female characters are relegated to sexy sidekick, which is so two thousand and late.

In fact, the games I really love tend to be the ones that have relatively well-rounded female characters – Chell and GLaDOS from Portal, Alex from Half Life (and Eternal Darkness), Revan from Knights of the Old Republic; these are dynamic, engaging, interesting characters. 

I know male gamers who enjoy playing as female characters because it’s something new or skill traits are different; girls regularly play as male characters – wouldn’t it be both great for gamers to have the choice of difference, and a great business move to corner that market?

The idea that girls don’t play games is just plain stoopid. Anecdotally I know it to be untrue and there are all kinds of statistics floating around to disprove it, the main one being the Entertainment Software Association report from 2012 which said 47 percent of computer and video game players were women.

I’d love to see some difference in the gaming industry – a black Gordon Freeman, a gay Shepard (good work on that count, BioWare), a fully fleshed-out female Master Chief. And the industry is growing up; Mass Effect 3 writer Ann Lemay said writing a female Turian was a simple and smooth process with BioWare; there are game studios keen to corner the female market out there and there were many tweets condemning the negative reaction above. But given that it existed in so many people in the first place, it seems the industry still has a way to go.

Give me an interesting game with a well-written female lead and I’m happy to pay; following the old business adage, that's the demand, now where’s the supply?