Most Shared

Culture

Why do people think video games are just for boys?

By Lauren AguirreMarch 21, 2017

Xbox controller
Xbox controller Pexels

Many people have this mentality that video games are only for boys and men to enjoy and love. Or that more boys than girls enjoy video games. However, various studies and articles have proven that a substantial number of girls and women play video games regularly. So why does society still believe video games are for boys only?

This attitude has arisen mainly because of marketing and advertising. For several decades, video game consoles and titles have been targeted toward boys and men. If you have ever seen an ad for a video game, it is likely that it was geared specifically toward males. Yes, there are video games (namely those made by Nintendo like Pokémon) that are marketed in a neutral way that includes both genders — but those are the exception, not the rule.

 

As a medium, video games are open and available for everyone. However, the creation and marketing of games are often geared specifically toward men.

So, this becomes an endless cycle. Because so many games are specifically marketed toward boys and men, more boys and men buy and play them. And then, many game publishers see males as the most viable business option for future games. Which, given their unchanging marketing strategy, would be correct. This cycle shuts out girls and women from the cultural conversation surrounding video games. Sure, there are plenty of women who pick up and play first-person shooters, but they are not usually acknowledged by the wider society or even the gaming industry itself.

As a medium, video games are open and available for everyone. However, the creation and marketing of games are often geared specifically toward men. It is this advertising strategy and game market that leads the casual observer to assume that more boys play games than girls. But that just isn’t true.

According to a study published by Pew Research Center in 2015, 59 percent of teenage girls between 13 and 17 play video games. And they aren’t just playing mobile games either. Another study found that girls between the ages of 11 and 18 play all different types of video games. More than 35 percent played role-playing games, more than 25 percent play first-person shooters, and 32 percent play mobile games.

 

The stereotypical gamer — boys and men between ages 10 and 25 — only makes up about 15 percent of all gamers.

So almost 60 percent of teenage girls play games. What about adult women? Turns out women and girls make up about half of the gamer population. That’s right. Half. In fact, the stereotypical gamer — boys and men between ages 10 and 25 — only makes up about 15 percent of all gamers. This seems like a pretty big market to miss out on. Why are so many games still mostly marketed to boys?

This is in part because of historical precedent. In the early days of video games, the industry was mostly made up of men. This was because, in the '70s and '80s, more men than women had backgrounds in computer science and software engineering.

This is unfortunately still true today. Many more men are working in the video game industry than women are. Women only make up about 11 percent of game designers and 3 percent of programmers. Because the industry is dominated by men, it is more likely that they will design games that they themselves would enjoy and have an interest in. And that’s okay. In order to create diverse games, you kind of need a diverse writing, designing and programming staff. There should definitely be more women in the video game industry.

But maybe the reason there aren't that many women working in video games is that they feel they're shut out of the field. For the most part, video games are still viewed as a boys-only arena by society.

Video games are arguably one of the greatest art forms of our time. They are a completely brand new and revolutionary way to tell a story and create new interactive worlds to explore. This medium should definitely not be restricted to one gender simply because of history and societal attitudes. Video games, as a medium, are available for everyone to enjoy and no one should be judged for playing them in their spare time.