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targeting female audience

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First admission: I am a guy. OK, that said, I''ve always wondered something. Do girl gamers feel left out in any way? I mean, most every game is oriented towards "guy" gamers. Is this true or are games really genderless and appealing to both sexes? You look at an action game with blood and guts spewing all over the place and some people immediatly think: "a girl could never handle that". Well, I know that''s a load of bulls**t but can I ask what girls would want different in games? You think of a girl game and you think of Barbies or something, which is hilarious but wrong again. What are girl gamers in to? Do some of their tastes match ours? Come on, I know there have to be some female gamers hanging around here somewhere...... where are you? Speak up! (I do not try to sound chauvinistic in any way, and if I do, sorry. And if I''m just recreating one of those threads in the Lounge forum, let me know. ) ============================== \\// live long and prosper; \||/ die short and rot. ==============================

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Not a girl, but two relevant experiences:

First, a good friend of mine was a hardcore gamer and director of QA at Lucas Arts. He got his last girlfriend and his current wife, two people you wouldn''t expect to play games, into the hobby. He reports that co-op options, exploration and building are premo game qualities for girls. It''s not that graphic conflict is a turn off, as far as he can tell, it''s just pointless.

Second, I had the esteemed honor of converting an old girlfriend from a luddite into a gamer. How did I accomplish this evil task? I turned her on to Myst (stone me now ). The problem for her, and I think for the industry in general, is that there is not enough intellectual and emotional content in today''s games.

Imagine if the only movies that existed were Hong Kong karate flicks and bad, low budget space monster movies. These are what most games are the equivalent of today. There''re filled with direct, completely unsubtle conflict for largely amatuerish ends (kill foozle, save the ninth key of nin, kill the boss monsters!!!! you get the idea...)

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Not wanting to step on any toes...

I would venture that the main things that separate females'' from males'' gaming interests would be best understood by looking at history, and looking into psychological factors. Many (in fact, most) games released today are targetted at the 18-25 age group, and these for the most part, are violence-oriented. There are weapons and head-shots and stereotypical wisecracks (sorry, Duke), but on the flipside there are ''male fantasy'' presentations of female characters in generally-viewed-to-be male-dominant roles (sorry, Lara). If you look at the RPG genre, which by definition should be socialize-oriented, you will find action and violence being the main point of the game (sorry, but EQ, Diablo, and UO are *not* roleplaying games, simply because of this), with little, if anything, given to actual personality and overall plot development. If you look at the RTS genre, you have war and dominance again.

Don''t get me wrong, there are great games out there that stand apart from all these. But 99% of today''s games have the same formula: competition against fellow human beings. Historically speaking, this has always been male-dominant.

So perhaps changing things a little, adding more intrigue, character-persona development, exploration, and discovery, would be not only beneficial to the game development industry, but cater to a wider audience as a whole?

(As stated in previous posts, this is not intended as a pessimistic or sexist commentary, but rather a general observation.)


MatrixCubed

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I think it''s funny the way every one who has posted so far follows their post with a disclaimer. C''mon people, this is a message board. It''s assumed that you are gonna say your honest opinions. If a girl is offended, big deal.

Anyway, girls like pointless violence sometimes. My girl and I used to play Tekken together all the time, as well as Gran Turismo. She tried Rayman, even the Sims and AoE2. She doesn''t like video games, but it''s not becuase of the violence. It''s just because they aren''t her thing.

I think one thing that definately needs to change is the way women are portrayed in video games. Who cares if Lara and other half-naked, misproportioned girls sold games, that doesn''t make it right, and until the industry learns that, girls will always be a non-target audience.

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"

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Ok, nobody sounds chauvanistic, relax!
(I think there was a previous thread on the topic in this design group, not the lounge.)

As a girl gamer, the only time I really feel left out is when the game by default addresses me as "Mr. Soandso". I think monster bashing is boring, but that''s just my opinion, I know girls who disagree. I don''t have a problem with the females characters being half-naked, I just wish the male characters looked as good; games in general need more bishonen-type characters (like Sephiroth). I definately agree with Wavinator about the lack of intellectual and emotional content, and I would add social content to the list, like Matrixcubed mentions. Not social as in multiplayer, but social as in one of the puzzles in the game is you must get on person X''s good side and convince them to help you, using only dialog choices, not by giving them a foozle or a bribe. I''d like to see a game with a romance as one of the things the main character has to accomplish. I generally like games where you build up and/or manage complex systems, but this is where it''s essential to have emotional involvement - otherwise it gets boring quickly. I like games that can be personalized, especially ones that are designed to be hacked and modified by players with too much free time (e.g. Creatures 3; I''m almost done making a sprite with 14 posable body parts.). I like adventure games when they''re not horriffic and RPGs when they have good characters and story.

My disclaimer: All of the above is just my opinion; I do not by any stretch of the imagination speak for Womankind.

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The main problem with gaming is that it''s seen as a plain competitive interaction between people where someone must "win" and someone must "lose". This is mainly due to where the whole gaming idea came from, which primarily was the physical activities like sport. I think that ultimately a game is not a suitable method for entertaining women (I personally know much better ways) mainly because their source of entertainment doesn''t focus around winning, or dominating (how many games aren''t based on these principles) but more or less social interaction (which I usually mis-interpret as "bitching" but women adamently tell me that it''s friend-type stuff). Women want interaction with the real world, real people.

Fortunately for women in todays society, all their needs and wants are supplied to them, and aren''t considered illegal, or amoral. Unfortunately for men, most of our desires aren''t supplied in real life, most of us don''t get a chance to save the world, or kill lots of aliens, or command massive armies and cost 1000s of lives but not be condemned for it. Most men don''t get to wield swords and take part in a "role-playing" experience where you take part in honour-based combat rather than shooting people from a distance, and save the world from some other evil person, or alternatively, shoot people just because you can get away with it.

Basically, reality is all the women need, whilst reality doesn''t provide that much for men who haven''t been toned down and conditioned to modern society - I call these kind of guys "sports nuts".

Most of the responses to this question can be answered in that old featured article about why games don''t appeal to women, there isn''t much else to say but women don''t need any supplement to their fantasies, whereas men do.

Uhh - that''s my 2 cents Australian (which is worth about 1c in america at the moment, damn!)

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My personal opinion is is that you need to get more women making games. You can''t point the finger at male developers who make games that they like to play.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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I agree with Paul. So I am constantly asking my g/f what I should put in my RPG. Pity she doesn''t like computers eh?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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No offense Gaiiden, but I hate these threads with a passion. And I hate the articles to.

Girls play games. More girls than you think. There is no way to make more play games except a natural evolution. As Paul said, part of this evolution is more females being involved in the creative process. This cannot be forced, it will happen, just as it has in all other media.

I can''t figure out where people get the notion that girls don''t play games. I just can''t. they do. They''re all over. Everywhere. No evidence otherwise. I know a bunch. Most of them choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, but then again a great deal of them do. I choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, does that make me a girl?

Fact is, the "hardcore" gamers games do not make up the majority of sales. Deer Hunter does. I don''t know why. If that reflects the dominant male market, then so be it. We can only take that as an indication that women are more intelligent than us.

It''s a painfully male thought that something can be "done" to make more girls play games. Like they are a flat out different kind of human being, who have no interest in the way things are now. Bullshit. This is an imagined problem, and even what little bit of a real problem there is will be super-easy to remedy by women themselves when they choose this is an issue they want to fight. Till then, can we please shut up and try to make some good games, so that everyone can enjoy them?

======
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates

"Question everything. Especially Landfish."
-Matt

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quote:
Original post by Landfish

No offense Gaiiden, but I hate these threads with a passion. And I hate the articles to.

Girls play games. More girls than you think. There is no way to make more play games except a natural evolution. As Paul said, part of this evolution is more females being involved in the creative process. This cannot be forced, it will happen, just as it has in all other media.

I can''t figure out where people get the notion that girls don''t play games. I just can''t. they do. They''re all over. Everywhere. No evidence otherwise. I know a bunch. Most of them choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, but then again a great deal of them do. I choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, does that make me a girl?

Fact is, the "hardcore" gamers games do not make up the majority of sales. Deer Hunter does. I don''t know why. If that reflects the dominant male market, then so be it. We can only take that as an indication that women are more intelligent than us.

It''s a painfully male thought that something can be "done" to make more girls play games. Like they are a flat out different kind of human being, who have no interest in the way things are now. Bullshit. This is an imagined problem, and even what little bit of a real problem there is will be super-easy to remedy by women themselves when they choose this is an issue they want to fight. Till then, can we please shut up and try to make some good games, so that everyone can enjoy them?

======
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates

"Question everything. Especially Landfish."
-Matt


This is beautiful.I''d put it in my signature if it wasn''t so large.



Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

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Thank you, Landfish.

And Maitrek... get a clue. We''re as competitive and ambitious and full of suppressed violence as you are. We''ve just been conditioned into thinking otherwise, it''s a self-fulfilling stereotype. Males and females are treated differently from birth. Little girls play with dolls, not toy guns. Older girls, like everyone else, watch TV and movies. The guy beats up the bad guy, saves the day and gets the girl. The girl... well, she gets the guy because she''s pretty.

Don''t even try to tell me society fulfills all my needs, and you guys are getting the short end of the stick. Don''t tell me all I want is to interact with ''real world, real people''... I don''t even like people, at least not most of them. And don''t try to claim a monopoly on escapism and fantasy, or adrenalin, or the desire to blast the bad guys and save the world. Because you''re wrong. Believe me, you''re wrong.

Ahem. Okay, rant mode off, what was the topic again? Gaming, right. I''m not really a gamer. I like games, I just don''t like the way I feel after wasting endless hours of my life on them. If I were a gamer, I''d probably complain that 90% of the protagonists are male, and that women exist mostly as walking sex objects... but this isn''t exactly an invention of the gaming industry, either. What can I say, our society is kinda stupid. It''s still moving in the right direction, at least.

-Moth

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I don''t think I mentioned women gamers in my argument did I? Of course women gamers don''t feel that way - why else would they play games...

I''m saying that most games aren''t targeted at most women, they are targeted at most men. Some women will inevitably be interested in similar things and thus - become a female gamer, in which case I don''t think they miss out on anything because the basics of it is, if you like something, you do it (for most people anyway), unless you are a glutton for punishment.

I never said female gamers were catered for in the real world, I used the term women as a generalisation (you could call me chauvinistic but that''s okay, I more or less am - kind of a counter balance for all the feminists I get stuck talking to all day at my high school).

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Social and emotional content? What a load of rubbish, my sister plays Pac man and Solitaire and Tetris.

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quote:
Original post by Landfish

No offense Gaiiden, but I hate these threads with a passion. And I hate the articles to.

Girls play games. More girls than you think. There is no way to make more play games except a natural evolution. As Paul said, part of this evolution is more females being involved in the creative process. This cannot be forced, it will happen, just as it has in all other media.

I can't figure out where people get the notion that girls don't play games. I just can't. they do. They're all over. Everywhere. No evidence otherwise. I know a bunch. Most of them choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, but then again a great deal of them do. I choose not to play Diablo or Unreal, does that make me a girl?

Fact is, the "hardcore" gamers games do not make up the majority of sales. Deer Hunter does. I don't know why. If that reflects the dominant male market, then so be it. We can only take that as an indication that women are more intelligent than us.

It's a painfully male thought that something can be "done" to make more girls play games. Like they are a flat out different kind of human being, who have no interest in the way things are now. Bullshit. This is an imagined problem, and even what little bit of a real problem there is will be super-easy to remedy by women themselves when they choose this is an issue they want to fight. Till then, can we please shut up and try to make some good games, so that everyone can enjoy them?

======
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates

"Question everything. Especially Landfish."
-Matt


I agree with this for the most part, except that a couple of things must done before that natural evolution will occur.

First, the advertising departments have to stop making sexist, stupid, and embarrasing adds. Honestly, just open up to a random page in your favorite gaming mag, and chances are you'll find an add with scantily clad women and male targeted statements.

Look at it this way, as guys, would we want to buy a game if it was advertised as being all fluffy and pink and feminen? No, it would drive you away. I'm not saying we need to target ads to females, I'm just saying that we shouldn't make adds that will drive them away.

Also, the gaming press needs to change somewhat. I've noticed that most of the magazines are almost exclusivly targeted towards males. I don't think it's nearly as big a deal, but still..

In any case, I do agree that there isn't some sort of magic solution that will suddenly make women play games.

----------------------------------------
"Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
Then, when you do criticize them, you will be a mile away and have their shoes." -- Deep Thoughts

Edited by - The Senshi on September 4, 2000 1:23:36 PM

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quote:
I agree with this for the most part, except that a couple of things must done before that natural evolution will occur.

First, the advertising departments have to stop making sexist, stupid, and embarrasing adds. Honestly, just open up to a random page in your favorite gaming mag, and chances are you'll find an add with scantily clad women and male targeted statements.

Look at it this way, as guys, would we want to buy a game if it was advertised as being all fluffy and pink and feminen? No, it would drive you away. I'm not saying we need to target ads to females, I'm just saying that we shouldn't make adds that will drive them away.

Also, the gaming press needs to change somewhat. I've noticed that most of the magazines are almost exclusivly targeted towards males. I don't think it's nearly as big a deal, but still..

In any case, I do agree that there isn't some sort of magic solution that will suddenly make women play games.

----------------------------------------
"Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
Then, when you do criticize them, you will be a mile away and have their shoes." -- Deep Thoughts

Edited by - The Senshi on September 4, 2000 1:23:36 PM


How is any of that different from Hollywood at all? I mean, I see what you're talking about with the press, but the industry is exactly the same. If you consider this to be a problem, then it certainly isn't limited to games as some people imply. Sex sells; often more easily to men.

What bothers me is this. The belief that girls don't play games and that something can be done to change this is an extension of the very social stigma that dictates women should noty play games. But they do, so we male developers are just sitting here imagining a problem based on our ignorant assumptions of the situation.



======
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates

"Question everything. Especially Landfish."
-Matt

Edited by - Landfish on September 4, 2000 2:05:02 PM

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quote:
Original post by Maitrek

I don''t think I mentioned women gamers in my argument did I? Of course women gamers don''t feel that way - why else would they play games...




No, you didn''t... I assumed because you didn''t think they existed, or not in statistically significant quantities. It sounded like you were drawing a nice thick black line between female and male psychology, and declaring the first to be perfectly happy with the real world, whereas the second had needs better fulfilled by games. Now you''re admitting there are exceptions... so where do we come from, if these gender differences are so very fundamental? Which presumably they must be, if you can generalize as far as you did.

I''ve read the article, too, and I still don''t get it. "Women are completely different from us, except of course for the few that aren''t. This is due to evolution." Absolutely nothing to do with the fact that society has been male-dominated and strongly gender-divided for the past few thousand years. Of course not. I''m not saying biology couldn''t have anything to do with it... I just think it counts for a whole lot less that people seem to think it does. We''re human beings first, and men or women second. We are all much more alike than society wants us to know.

At least that''s my two-cent''s-worth of hopelessly off-topic opinion. But I think game-playing and fantasy and all the rest are fundamentally human activities... therefore, given time, women will be as involved in gaming as men are. Because there''s no reason in the world why they shouldn''t be, except for the stereotypes about what men and women are supposed to enjoy.

-Moth



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I think the best lessons that can be learnt here are learnt in small doses. Like the male/female appearances in games. There have been many articles written by women complaining about the way male and female characters are asthetically designed. Some women have been annoyed by the way more effort has been placed in making the female look more sexually appealing than has been done for male characters appeal to women. And this isn''t even talking about personalities which is a worse an issue. Just look at Duke Nukem, this isn''t what you would call an appealling personality to a lot of women is it!, but Lara Croft''s personality is considerably more appealling/yes?!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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eeeeyikes. I take a short labor Day vacation and come back to find this..... cool!! After reading through the many replies, I think I have my answers And - who was it? - ahh, Landfish: thanks for the heads up about many women gamers, but I knew that and wasn''t trying to say that there is a shortage of them. And after reading all the responses, both girls and guys alike, I''ve come to agree with a lot of good points.

First, Paul and Landfish make the best arguments. I agree that more women game developers will definetly lead to more women gamers as games become more appealing to them. I''ve also realized that peer pressure has a lot to do with less women playing games. I''d give a lot of credit to any girl going against her peers to play games while they''re all out shopping every hour or doing the "in" thing while she''s off playing cause she likes it, not what they think. (I sure hope that came out right....)

To prove my point, there are still a lot of guys in my area that look upon kids like me who love playing games and using computers a lot as nerds, not cool socialites. I get caught reading one cool mag like MaximumPC or NextGen and I''m done for

Also, thanks to Moth and Sunandshadow for there replies, I''m sure they''ve done this before I accept your views on the women-as-sex-figures idealism. It is true that this could be a major turnoff for most girls (geewhiz, now what does THAT imply? sorry.....sorry...) and I''m sure some medium could be found, but if it went too far, then we might just have a girl-type game and guy-type game and few inbetween. I think that would be bad, cause then you might see the physical split between the two gamer types, so a definite medium would be best I think.

Anyways, to sum up my shpeel (yeah, I know... i spelled it wrong), I just wanted to see if I could understand what females would like in games so that when I design games, I can help bring in more female gamers, cause if anyone thinks its always gonna be a male dominated market, they''re just as wrong as they were back in the mid 1900''s.

(BTW: no disclaimer included - you are free to rip me apart and throw me to the sharks if you so wish. GAAAA what have i done!?!?!)

==============================
\\// live long and prosper; \||/ die short and rot.
==============================

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quote:
Original post by The Senshi
Look at it this way, as guys, would we want to buy a game if it was advertised as being all fluffy and pink and feminine?



Not even a woman would buy a game advertised as fluffy, pink and feminine. Look at the many barbie-game failures.
The problem remains that Computer Games are a fundamentally geeky activity with very little connection to real life. Somehow, for a lot of women, that seems to put them off, they have better things to do with their time, like phoning their friends.
I think if you look at the demographics of people playing a lot of computer games, you''ll see they are mostly [with exceptions] single people, or people who are just not very active socially. This may change for multiplayer games, at least a little bit, but then I know that my girlfriend hates "family games" even more than a normal computer game.
Lets face it, in their eyes, playing computer games just isn''t very cool! "Hey everyone, my boyfriend beat DiabloII last night!"






Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.

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I think that we are all different, males and females. So instead of targeting ''women'' as such, we target those who prefer social interaction. Personally, I have been campaigning for NPC''s to interact with for a great deal of time. This seems to be an area where I have seen women protesting for my case too. It is not a sex issue, it is a brain wiring issue. I do not really like FPS, they test twitch, my twitch is good, but I prefer to attempt more abstract things like puzzles (or [cryptic] crosswords at that )

Why don''t games just get classed as: ''fast paced twitch splat'', ''click-n-kill'', ''puzzle'', ''strategy'', ''sim'', educational, and ''adventure''. These may be mixed, but they do not reference sex, just play preference. I am sure I have missed genre''s but it serves as an example. Let each person decide what suits them and let girls and guys alike play together. BTW. A lot of girls would woop most peoples ar$es at Quake <insert number here>, so don''t go saying that girls don''t play games.

Concequently though, it seems that the majority of computer illiterate are female (from personal experience). I had to teach my mum, g/f and sister to use the computer. I am younger than two of those, and I learned a lot quicker. Maybe it is just the interest factor, that they were more interested in other things... Who knows, but that was the past (when computers were rare), in this age, most people use computers. So maybe times having changed means a shift in the trend towards games

Nuff said...

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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I''ve got little idea about the peer presures that women give each other so i won''t comment on that and i''d like not to be connected to such issues until i''ve given it more thought and spoken to some female gamers in person about this issue.

I''ve spoken to women i would never have thought play games and realised that they crave pretty similar things that men crave in games. I''ve also learnt that they like to talk about them and their experiences playing games in the same way i do (a male). All i know is that more and more people are starting to play games and that a lot of them are female. This will hopefully lead to more women getting enthusiastic enough to make games. This will be very interesting and i for one am looking forward to seeing these changes in our industry!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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quote:

I''ve got little idea about the peer presures that women give each other so i won''t comment on that and i''d like not to be connected to such issues until i''ve given it more thought and spoken to some female gamers in person about this issue.



man, I was trying not to screw that part up too much. Sorry if I offended anyone out there.

==============================
\\// live long and prosper; \||/ die short and rot.
==============================

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quote:

Not even a woman would buy a game advertised as fluffy, pink and feminine. Look at the many barbie-game failures.



I just used that as an extreme example. I agree that pink fluffy ads are universally hated .

quote:

The problem remains that Computer Games are a fundamentally geeky activity with very little connection to real life. Somehow, for a lot of women, that seems to put them off, they have better things to do with their time, like phoning their friends.



True. I''ve noticed that games like EverQuest seem much more popular among females. I''d near half the players in everquest are female -- not a shortage there .

quote:

How is any of that different from Hollywood at all? I mean, I see what you''re talking about with the press, but the industry is exactly the same. If you consider this to be a problem, then it certainly isn''t limited to games as some people imply. Sex sells; often more easily to men.



I''m not sure how hollywood ties into this. Can you elaborate a bit more?

quote:

Sex sells; often more easily to men.



I don''t think that''s always true -- I''m not going to buy a game just because it has scantily clad women on it. In fact, it probably will reduce my chancess of getting it since it lowers my opinion of the game.



----------------------------------------
"Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
Then, when you do criticize them, you will be a mile away and have their shoes." -- Deep Thoughts

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Goddamn. Ya''ll might as well go back and read my other posts, ''cause I got nothing new to say. This is such a moot point.

Moth: Right on man.

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