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Female Online Gamers Now Outnumber Males

By Anne Marie in Internet
Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 07:01:19 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

According to a new study conducted by PC Data, female online gamers now outnumber male online gamers for the first time. Though males still comprise 55% of all gamers, females now comprise 50.4% of online gamers. Males still dominate in first-person shooters and war games, of course, outnumbering females by three to one, but women vastly outnumber men in critical-thinking and strategy games like online card games and trivia games. Read PC Data's press release here.


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Female Online Gamers Now Outnumber Males | 34 comments (29 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Kudos (3.21 / 14) (#1)
by perdida on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 03:26:22 PM EST

+1 FP

As a fellow female gamer I heartily salute this story.

Game companies, change your marketing strategy. Communicate with your consumer base and give money to the forums in which they talk about, learn and play your games.

In other words just support female gamers.

The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
Not to sound like a bigot, but... (3.57 / 19) (#2)
by Electric Angst on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 03:34:58 PM EST

Would you really count a hearts player as a 'gamer'? I mean, technically, it's true, but I think that it's a cop-out. I mean, of course women will make up 51% of all people who play any games, because women are 51% of the population, and 100% of that population plays some form of game.

Other than promote the types of barriers that female 'gamers' are working at breaking down (women play, guys frag, etc.), this really doesn't say too much about females who partake in the type of games that would make a player call him or herself a "gamer".
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
I Agree (2.42 / 7) (#3)
by CyberQuog on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 03:44:19 PM EST

The story depends on their definition of "gamer". Is someone who plays hearts while at work considered a gamer? But, then what do you call the dork who plays counter-strike for 23 hours a day (~cough~ me ~cough~) called? You can't really call the two the same thing.

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't call you a bigot... (3.45 / 11) (#4)
by ignatiusst on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 03:48:15 PM EST

a sexist, maybe, but not a bigot.

Come on, now.. are you really trying to put some kind of social value system on kinds of games? Quake is intrinsically more valuable than hearts?...

I do not think that someone who quotes cool Bob Dylan lines should post without thinking... ;)

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Game Associations... (4.40 / 10) (#8)
by Electric Angst on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 04:05:14 PM EST

[A]re you really trying to put some kind of social value system on kinds of games?

No. I'm saying that the common usage of the word "gamer" both by the people who label themselves with that term and those who use the term in general are not referring to people who simply play games. This article used the term "gamer" to refer to anyone who played any games online, certainly not agreeing with the common usage of the word.

The subtext of this article, that there are more female "gamers" (in the common usage of the word) today than males is without merit. The survey itself is far more interested in what types of people play what games (obviously, since PCData is basically an overblown market research firm) instead of females breaking down the gender barrier to games. (As suggested by this article.)
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Re: I wouldn't call you a bigot (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by Malicose on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 03:52:27 PM EST

Using that logic, bowling (the most played sport in America) should be the national passtime. The thing is that bowling doesn't have the hoards of people following the star players as is the case with baseball. This can be applied to the "value" of Hearts versus Quake: Quake has the stars like fatal1ty and garners the same type of competition and press that goes along with it.

[ Parent ]
Re: Not to sound like a bigot... (4.57 / 7) (#5)
by vaguely_aware on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 03:49:10 PM EST

This is an interesting point. I work for an online game company whose games consist mostly of solitare variants, puzzles, skill stops, etc. The majority of our users are women and we are instructed never to use the word "gamer" in our literature, on the website or anywhere else.

I guess the marketing department decided there was a "male stigma" associated with using the word "gamer" or even to refer to the act of playing our games as "gaming." They were afraid it would turn our target audience (females) off or something.

"...there are lots of shades of brown, but not too many shades of balls. - Kwil
[ Parent ]
Doesn't have to match population (2.14 / 7) (#11)
by error 404 on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 04:33:13 PM EST

In my household, at any given moment, a female is more likely to be doing something productive than a male. Us guys (at least the ones I know) goof off more.
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
does this include online solitaire? (2.25 / 8) (#7)
by phunbalanced on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 04:04:18 PM EST


I bet it's more than that... (3.66 / 12) (#10)
by puzzlingevidence on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 04:29:16 PM EST

I don't think that this study should come as any sort of surprise.

I'm a male gamer, but I rarely play any of the traditionally-viewed "male" games (looking forward to Starfleet Command II, though). I'm only interested in playing Scrabble, cards, trivia games, and other such games described in the linked article as appealing to female gamers.

Fully 90% of the Scrabble players on MSN's Zone or on games.com are female, and there are often thousands of Spades players on MSN at any given time, most of those being female.

There is a growing variety of card and board games available on the Net to play, while the number of multiplayer arcade-style and strategy games remains constant, as people stop playing older games and start playing newer games.

The trend can only continue. I just wish that the game publishers would realize this. I don't want another third-person shooter. I don't think very many people do want one. I want to be able to play Settlers of Catan online (and the kludged-together version out there doesn't cut it). I want games.com to segregate kids and adults into separate rooms. I want to kick ass at You Don't Know Jack in an online game show format (the current online game and the online play in Jack 5 don't cut it, either).

As the gender gap grows in favour of affluent female gamers, I may well be able to play games like that.

A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge

I can believe it... (4.12 / 8) (#14)
by lucas on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 04:57:51 PM EST

I can believe it... I've noticed that women really like competing with games, but don't like graphically-overclocked, first-person shooter (violent) games like men do. They seem to like more refined games that require strategy and thought. When we first got a GameBoy Color a few years ago, my wife played Tetris for hours, getting up to something obscene, like level 50. I kept dying at level 3. ;-)

I tend to agree with the women, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for the more cutting-edge, blow-you-out-of-the-water-sucka games.

However, there are areas that we can both agree on...

For example, during my Christmas vacation to Texas, my wife, my mother, and I are going to play (and hopefully win) the second Zelda.... we did it with the first one two Christmases ago.

Both my mother and my wife love computer gaming and games in general... Whenever I try to play them, they open up a can of WhoopAss and I'm history. I just have fun playing the game.


Really? (2.57 / 7) (#16)
by Zer0 on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 06:01:26 PM EST

If thats the case then where the hell are they all? I play all sorts of online games fps, strategy, rpg.. and i'm telling you.. they are either the minority or pretending to be male.

spades, scrabble more critical then starcraft? (3.28 / 7) (#17)
by tacitus on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 06:02:49 PM EST

I totally can see how women are making in roads in online gaming. I see more women playing starcraft but interest in the game has peaked, most starcraft guys seem to have become Unreal Tournament junkies.

But to say that spades and scrabble requires critical thinking over Starcraft, Doom, Unreal Tournament even... is a little of a stretch. Even to include them in the idea of online gaming is odd to me. I would argue they are the more traditional games that are simple to play and women in general do not have the interest to learn/obsess over the more graphically intense games in order to compete. I am familiar with the general usability of a game so I can usually figure it out pretty quick, but the hours I have spent playing Quake, Starcraft, Warcraft, Unreal Tourny.

Now some women do, there are some unbelievable female starcraft players out there.

I agree with some of posts saying there needs to be more meet to this submission. Looks like a /. entry. Get a summary up there and get this on the front page. Should be an interesting discussion on this subject.

The ILLenium

Scrabble not a critical thinking game? (3.37 / 8) (#18)
by puzzlingevidence on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 01:18:37 AM EST

If you think that Scrabble doesn't require significantly more critical thinking than any twitch game in existence, you haven't played much serious Scrabble.

When you have two players who can "bingo" (place all of their tiles) every third or fourth turn, get disappointed with any play worth less than 30 points, and regularly score 500+ (my record is 620), the game isn't based on luck or vocabulary, but rather the strategic placement of tiles to confound your opponent's play while giving yourself additional options.

Scrabble is a much deeper game than either Chess or Go.

A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge
[ Parent ]

Good call. (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by pb on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 11:47:52 AM EST

I'm pondering a programming contest entry for a "Scrabble-like" game. Basically, it only deals with one computer player trying to get the best score by placing words on the board.

At the moment, it looks like a really hideous search problem, too. I really wish I knew more about Scrabble strategy; got any pointers? :)
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Not really online gamers (2.71 / 7) (#19)
by Delirium on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 04:25:25 AM EST

I don't think playing hearts or scrabble online really counts as "online gaming." It's a real-world game which it just so happens you can also play online now, but the use of a computer to do so is incidental: you're really just playing a card game or a board game, and whether you do it in person or on a computer hardly matters.

Re: Not really online gamers (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by shaniber on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 07:31:01 AM EST

I disagree with this. The same statement could be made about many online games, as most have "Real World" equivalents. For example, you could be playing Risk instead of StarCraft or another strategy type game, or Paintball instead of Q3A. As well, similar online communities are built around the online versions of cards, chess, etc.

What is different about "our" games, that they should be considered online gaming, while "their" games shouldn't be?

  • shaniber.
In Comment #19, Delirum wrote:

I don't think playing hearts or scrabble online really counts as "online gaming." It's a real-world game which it just so happens you can also play online now, but the use of a computer to do so is incidental: you're really just playing a card game or a board game, and whether you do it in person or on a computer hardly matters.

[ Parent ]
Q3A is not paintball on your computer (none / 0) (#22)
by vaguely_aware on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 04:01:24 PM EST

I'm finding your logic hard to follow. On one hand, paintball and Q3A may have certain similar elements, but they are far from the same game. One involves physical activity while the other is a sit-down game. Starcraft and Risk may be closely related in the sense that they both involve strategy, but they operate very differently.

At the same time Scrabble in meatspace is more or less indistinguishable from Scrabble online or on your computer, in terms of how the game is presented and played.

Of course, I do agree that it's valid to call the act of playing games which could be played offline on the computer "online gaming." They are online, and games are being played. Sounds like the label fits to me.

"...there are lots of shades of brown, but not too many shades of balls. - Kwil
[ Parent ]
Trapped in the real world? (5.00 / 3) (#23)
by emptyshell on Sat Dec 16, 2000 at 11:39:58 PM EST

This has been broached slightly, but I'm not satisfied. This article shows a major difference between the types of games men and women are playing. That in and of itself is not so bad. However, the fact that a large number of women seem to primarily play card, board, and trivia games bothers me. None of these games seem to exploit the true power of the computer and I'm not refering to processor cycles.

Part of what makes computer games so fun is the sheer volume of possibilities. When you fire up UT you can explore virtual worlds (and shoot big guns, too =). Starcraft lets you simulate real battles. The Final Fantasy's let you be someone else for an afternoon. None of these things are possible in the real world. So we (and by we, I guess I mean "gamers") play these games, fascinated by this amazing opportunities. It's great to hear that women are finally starting to take advantage of this power just as much as men... except this article seems to indicate that they're not.

Card games are great fun, and the ability to play online can make playing them a really rewarding experience, but they don't even began to tap the power of computers. Why are so many women playing these games that seem rooted in the "real world"? Is it marketing? Are these games easier to get involved with? Sort of like a gateway drug? Is there less social stigma? I curious what causes this disparity in game choice. Do people even agree with what I've said about games and tapping the potential of computers?


Well, maybe. (none / 0) (#24)
by lonesmurf on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 02:44:30 AM EST

While I see merit in your argument that card games don't exactly immerse the player in new worlds, I have to disagree with you when you say that:

Card games are great fun, and the ability to play online can make playing them a really rewarding experience, but they don't even began to tap the power of computers.

The fact of the matter is that if someone can play online with 3-4 other people that they have never met, and have a damned good time at it, I think that it quickly becomes irrelavant as to whether or not the user is using the computer to it's full potential (read: sifting through a massive 3d world and blowing shit up).

One last point before I get back to work: It's the real world that we live in, and we've lived in it our entire lives. The upcoming generations are spending less and less time in the real world, and more in worlds created for them. Be it the internet, 3d games, or otherwise. It is much easier for these 'native' users to immerse themselves completely then it is for older, 'non-native' users. I have personally experienced what it is like for someone new to try and jump into a game of quake. They just cannot seem to get the hang of movement in a world that they don't physically exist in. My point to this whole spiel is simply that I don't think it is so much that the users are women, but that the users are OLDER women.

My apologies if this isn't quite cohesive: I just got here and the sleep still lurks in my mind.



I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

[ Parent ]
What about older men? (none / 0) (#25)
by emptyshell on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 11:41:37 AM EST

I think you're right, especially for older gamers, cards, etc. are a lot easier to get involved with then the majority of other games. So that leads to the question, what about the older MEN? Are they playing different games then the older women? It's possible. My great uncle used to play Doom sometimes, but my great aunt only ever plays casino games. Of, course, my uncle is a programmer, so it would be logical to find him playing games that require deeper submersion. However, I'm fairly certain he doesn't play 1st person shooters anymore. So maybe, there are simply less older men gaming, than women. That would be an interesting role reversal. I wish that the survey had studied age distribution. I suspect, that it would have revealed a lot.


[ Parent ]

Invalid conclusion (none / 0) (#26)
by Cuthalion on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 04:58:40 PM EST

Of, course, my uncle is a programmer, so it would be logical to find him playing games that require deeper submersion.

As a programmer who digs on board games and stuff like www.itsyourturn.com I would claim "I'm a programmer so it would be logical to find me playing games that require a higher degree of abstraction". Demographics: I'm a 25 year old geek male.

[ Parent ]
I ought to avoid generalizations (none / 0) (#28)
by emptyshell on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 05:37:54 PM EST

You're right. Just because someone understands computers, doesn't mean they necessarily prefer any particular type of game. When I said that, I think I was trying to illustrate just how comfortable my uncle is with computers. And I think it is that comfort that allows him to get involved with some of the more immersive games. Now granted, he's a freecell maniac, so maybe we shouldn't draw too much from that example. =)

I still believe, though, that if a rigorious study was done, we'd find that among card/board gamers the distrubition of players would be more evenly distributed between casual user and geeks, where as the distribution for "immersed gamers" would lean strongly towards geeks. It's natural for people to go farther with things that they're more comfortable with.

So I started out trying to avoid generalizations, but here I am about to make another huge one.

Maybe the fact that there are less women playing "immersive games" is merely a symptom of the imbalance in numbers of male and female geeks, nothing more.


[ Parent ]

Old age and treachery (none / 0) (#27)
by Phage on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 05:16:42 PM EST

Speaking as a representative of the 35+ age group, I can honestly say that this seems to be spot on.
My wife and I have to take turns with the PC in the evenings, and whilst I take great pleasure from shredding someone a close range with the flak cannon, my wife will sit there for hours with puzzles, word games, etc.
There is nothing wrong with this, it is just another (vive la) difference to be treasured.
BTW gaming keeps me in touch...there is a quote by someone I can't remember, "You may not be able to live forever, but you can be immature for a very long time."
Hmmmm "Gaming Pride"...or maybe "Proud to Frag" ?

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]
Different ideas (none / 0) (#29)
by kallisti on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 07:38:20 PM EST

This is a generalization, so take with appropriate amounts of NaCl.

Men are more likely to use a computer because it is "cool", women are more likely to want to use it for something. This translates to guys being more impressed by the sheer volume of possibilities, while women just want to play the game itself. Card games and board games can be very deep. In fact, almost every interesting math problem harder than NP-complete is a game. These games don't fully tap the computer, but they do tap the mind at least as well. To some people I've talked to, the graphics and such are simply a distraction.

Also, the interface for most hard-core games is simply too much to pick up. Each game assumes an audience familiar with the previous incarnations, and ramps up accordingly. Strategy also carries from one game to the next, so earlier disparities in players are carried forward. Card games are more likely to be known outside of the computer and thus are easier to pick up.

[ Parent ]

a subject for your comment (none / 0) (#31)
by your_desired_username on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 09:41:44 AM EST

Final Fantasy lets you be someone else? HA HA! No. It is a problem solving game. No pretending involved. No Being Someone Else. A good game - but a problem solving game.

If you want software that lets you be someone else -- you are already here.

[ Parent ]
In some senses (none / 0) (#33)
by emptyshell on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 08:25:41 PM EST

True, FF doesn't let you create a new persona. The fixed characters in the later games restrict a lot of player choices and opportunities. In exchange, however, you are granted a fairly rich storyline. Character interactions (though somewhat stilted due to "odd" translations =) are fairly well thought out. That's one of the reasons the series has so many fans. It's sort of like reading a book. You're given a plot (which you can't really affect), but in watching that plot unfold, you get a chance to try to empathize with those characters. So, yes the Final Fantasy series, is a somewhat passive play, but, I still find that it allows the exploration of some alternate personas.

However, ultimately, you're right. The internet is easily the biggest collection of "alternate identities" the world has ever seen. =)


[ Parent ]

OMG! Card Games require more thinking then RTSs?!? (none / 0) (#32)
by Recursive Guy on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:24:44 PM EST

Some people here were saying how much more "thinking" games female gamers play, and I cant disagree more.

Any RTS, almost, requires more thinking than a game of hearts or poker. In a RTS (real time strategy) such as Red Alert 2 (my favorite), you have to think and act quickly on your thoughts or you'll loose. Card games however allow more time to think because they are turn based.

Many people have this misconception that RTSs are just about whoever can click faster, but theyre not. Ive played a game when strategy, and strategy alone won the game for me, even though i was "Loosing" (for those RTS gamers out there, the guy i was playing had more units and resources, yet i knocked him out with some strategically placed strikes with the limited units i had, this made him loose the ability to win and he surrendered).

Anyway, back to the point, I think that RTSs require more thinking than card games...

And about that study, i can bet you that if they asked more people or people from a different location they would get different results. Thats how it is with studies, especially online ones.

Did you guys know that 60% of all statistics are made up on the spot anyway?

In the words of Al Gore (thsoe of you who voted in the USA election for the democratic "Sore Loserman" ticket should support me).. I DEMAND MORE RECOUNTS! hehe

thats all, thank you!

RTS (none / 0) (#34)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 05:23:40 PM EST

I play a lot of RTS games, but I must admit that they are not really thinking games. Yes, you can win with fewer units, but its micromanagment skills (reflexes) and tactical experence which win the game. The tactical decissions (StarCraft example: I will send my zelots since he is using units which do explocive damage, i.e. only 50% damage to small units; or I will avoid traveling on low ground since siege tanks on high ground do more damage) do not really make for a "thinking game." The "strategy" component involves attacking something critical to the opponents army (like resources) and this dose not involve that much thinking.

Ironically, the most direct way to think more in RTS games is to "cheat" with bots and scripts, i.e. remove much of the micromanagment. The strategy component becomes more importent and the tactical component takes on more of the qualities of thinking when the unit behaviors are more custamized during the pre-game. Plus, it dose take some real thinking to write a good script for a unit. Simillarly, aim bots allow FPS players to spend more time thinking and less time aiming/reacting (micromanaging).

Conversly, card games involve short term memory, not really intensive thinking. Personally, I would not really be surprised to discover that card games really require exactly the same amount of "tactical though" as RTS games. Simillarly, trivia games involve long term memory, not thinking.

Clearly, there are exeptional game *matches* from all the categories above (i.e. the RTS match where you discover some new trick or the trivia question where you do not know the answer, but manage to figure it out), but these are the exeption, not the rule. I suppose the "world class" RTS/FPS players may have the micromanagement skills to allow them to *really* think while playing. This might be part of what makes them Gods realitive to the average serious game player.

Anyway, if you want to discuss real thinking games then you need to be talking about games where even the newbe player must think (i.e. like chess). I think the correct analysis of this data would be: females play more memory games while males play more overtly tactical and reflex games, but there are very few people who really like to think. :)

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Female Online Gamers Now Outnumber Males | 34 comments (29 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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