Published on July 6th, 2012 | by Tom Reed
What A Girl Needs – An Insight Into Female Gamers
Girls’ Got Game
The well respected ESA (Entertainment Software Association) conducts regular surveys that help mould our opinion on the condition of the industry from a social point of view. Admittedly these facts only represent numbers in the U.S. but Europe cannot be too far behind.
“47% of all players are women, and women over 18 years of age are one of the industry’s fastest growing demographics”.
“Today, adult women represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (30%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%)”.
These statements breathe a refreshing new perspective on gaming. Could an Xbox Live lobby be as much of a legitimate arena for meeting women as a dating site? I’ve witnessed first-hand the disaster that is love sick guys falling over themselves to impress a female player who just wants to improve her K/D ratio on COD; it’s embarrassing, and so for now I’m going to say no.
But help is at hand for lag free lotharios in the form of two stunning ladies from Spirit Models, an alternative modelling agency. These smart beauties not only turn heads for a living but explode them completely in their down time.
Purple Girl, (23) originally from Portugal, and Strawberry Venom, (26) from Manchester, love to dress up as their favourite characters. When I met them at the London Anime Con they were more than happy to share their thoughts on how they perceive the guys they meet while playing games. Despite the ESA’s numbers, it still comes as a pleasant surprise to find girls who are just as passionate about games as the guys; perhaps it shouldn’t, but the truth is – it does.
To avoid the noise and commotion of the convention I convinced the models to elope to a loading area where a set of steps offered the only seating. I half expected to see them storm off due to lack of appropriate facilities, but instead Purple Girl and Strawberry Venom plonked themselves down, eager to talk about their favourite pastime: games.
How old were you when you started gaming?
PG: Since I can first remember I was always addicted to games, it drove my parents crazy! I remember draining their wallets playing Puzzle Bobble in the arcades.
SV: Same for me, it’s always been part of my life. My first memory is playing through ‘Toe Jam & Earl’ on the Mega Drive.
Do you put a lot of time into playing games?
PG: Definitely, although while I’m in the UK I only get to use my PSP. I’m playing throughFinal Fantasy right now; I probably put in 3 hours every other day.
SV: My career as a model has taken over at the moment but any spare time is game time. I’m playing through Dead Space right now; I missed picking it up when it came out because there were so many good games out at that time. I’m switching between so many games at the moment i’ll press “crouch” and end up punching a team mate because I’m mixing up control schemes! (Laughs)
Do you see a guy who plays hours and hours of games nearly every day a romantic deal breaker?
SV: It’s a must! If he wasn’t into games we wouldn’t be together; it’s really that simple.
PG: My relationships have suffered because I like to play games so much, not the other way around.
As girl gamers do you feel that developers should aim their products at a female demographic?
PG: (flatly) Nope. At school I used to play Quake and Unreal Tournament, I never felt those games were aimed at a man or a woman. In my mind they were aimed at me. It’s the games that are too girly that I avoid.
SV: (nods) Yeah girly games aren’t for me either. But then a lot of girls are girly, and if they don’t play a lot then those games have their place.
What games are you looking forward to playing?
PG: I’m dying to play Diablo 3 but I have a Mac, so I have to wait until I get back home and beg my brother to let me play it.
SV: If being dressed as Jill Valentine wasn’t a clue? It has to be Resident Evil 6 (starts to get animated with excitement). A new Gears game is rumoured too! And Bioshock Infinite which looks amazing. My next tattoo is going to be based on Bioshock check out my RE tat’ (points to her wrist). As long as the new environment is as creepy as rapture was, it should be OK.
It’s a clear indicator someone loves their games when they have the umbrella logo tattooed on their wrist. Very cool. Speaking of creepy, how can a guy approach you through an online service like Xbox Live without sounding like a creep?
SV: They can’t. It’s always in the back of your mind that guys are just interested in adding you to their friends list like notches on their bedpost. If you’ve played a few hours in a Gears of War lobby, after a good set of games they add you I guess that’s fine – but I’m always waiting for them to send messages asking, “if I’m fit”.
PG: I just hate it when I get told that I don’t know anything about games when I’m online, I have to beat them before they respect me. I go online to beat them regardless so I don’t mind it.
How do you feel about the way women are portrayed in games?
SV: Well put it this way girls aren’t going to want to play Duke Nukem; it’s just not female friendly
PG: It always annoyed me how all the Final Fantasy women were proportionate except for Tifa who had like, the biggest breasts! (laughs). But you know I love playing Mortal Kombatand Tekken, too. And it would be refreshing to see women built more honestly. I mean, you don’t see guys in games with massive packages hung like giraffes do you? If you did it might put some guys off playing wouldn’t it?
A lot of girlfriends out there see their partner’s love of games as an immature phase that they should grow out of. What would you say to those girlfriends?
SV: There’s nothing immature about gaming, that’s why a lot of them are 18 plus. Girls like that should get over themselves. It’s probably the fact that they aren’t getting the attention.
PG: I would tell the girl to grow up. It’s like comics and TV shows you are into, you can say you’re an adult when you can proudly say you like what you like. There’s a massive difference between connecting with what inspires your imagination and playing games to perpetuate a peter pan style refusal to grow up.
What would you say to female players who feel intimidated by the industry to get them more into the scene?
SV: I think there’s a game out there for everyone, you don’t have to play 10 hours a day. You could grab a DS and play something easy and fun.
Do you have any advice for guys who dream of meeting gaming beauties such as yourselves?
PG: Don’t stop trying. We are out there and are just as interested in meeting a nice guy, but maybe not by hitting on us over Xbox Live. The mentality of people is changing; it used to be, “You play computer games? Really!? What a geek,” but that opinion is quickly becoming outdated.
SV: I think it’s a bad idea to try and convince a girl to like games if she doesn’t already. But a lot of girls are into games to some degree even if it’s Pac-Man.
Thank you very much for your time ladies.
At the beginning of the interview I was a stammering fool with eyes full of latex and legs. By the end, we were all just geeks hanging out and sharing stories about our triumphs and failures in the digital realm.
I for one have now let go of that last lingering misconception: that girls only know so much about games because of inherited knowledge from boyfriends. Female gamers have always been around, but kept out of the spotlight because the target demographic has tended to be young males. But the reality now is that games have become far too main-stream to be denied by the gender barrier.
About the Author
Tom Reed Tom is the journalism version of a salmon, if there’s a mainstream he aims to swim the wrong way up it so he can feed the masses with a truth grenade. Beyond games Tom is a musician, illustrator and an avid Ice hockey fan.