The Player

 

Developers are finally starting to cater for female gamers, writes CIARA O’BRIEN

HANDS UP all the female gamers out there. There are more of us than you’d think.

Gaming has become less of a niche hobby in recent years as new controllers and, frankly, better games have contributed towards making it more socially acceptable to admit you have a deep and meaningful relationship with your games console.

But there is one image gaming can’t shake off – that it might possibly be geared more towards men than women. Despite all the good work of the past few years in opening up games to a wider audience, there are still some things that haven’t changed.

According to a recent study by marketing research firm Interpret, female gamers are feeling a bit ignored by developers.

Personally, I’ve never felt ignored, but I have been in danger of being patronised to death. While some games get it right, others fail miserably, whether it’s on content or marketing. Frankly, there are times when I’d rather be ignored, thanks all the same.

Here’s a shocking fact: some women like playing video games. And not just “casual” games, like FarmVille, or fitness-themed games for the Wii. And contrary to popular belief, we can see beyond the colour of our controllers. A rubbish game in pink packaging is still a rubbish game.

That’s backed up by the Interpret report; it found 44 per cent of female players like games other than those that fit into genres such as casual, music, and exercise.

It isn’t news to me that some women actually like to play games that require more than five minutes of their attention. I’ve lost entire weekends to really good games I can’t put down. I know more female World of Warcraftplayers than I do male. Likewise, I know some men who would rather play a few minutes of Mafia Warsonline than give up hours to raiding. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

In an effort to redress the balance of a male-dominated industry, a number of studios have sprung up with the aim of catering to female gamers. Minnesota-based SieEnt, for example, is developing an RPG-style episodic game aimed at women.

The basic facts are, we’re not really all that different to male gamers. All we want is something with decent characters and gameplay. And if you throw a believable female lead character in, why not try it? It’s not just women who want to see strong female leads in games, you know.