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Female Gamers: Not a Myth

Donna Desborough Posted:
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Editorial: Female Gamers

Donna Desborough let's us in on a little secret: they're real!

Females and gaming, it happens you know.

We aren't creatures of myth. Female gamers have existed for a lot longer than people think. It's not something that's new, but it is something that games developers are trying to tap.

What do girls want out of a game? Now that is the eternal question, to which there is no simple answer. Well, really there is, but it's not as simple as it seems. Female gamers want the same kind of things male gamers want. So, let's go over a few things that female gamers might want from a game, especially an MMO.

I'll start with something simple, immersion.

We want to feel like we're a part of the world we're playing in, to be an active part of what's happening and not be just another piece of the scenery. But then, who doesn't want that? Actually it's a very common desire from both males and females.

Okay let's try for something a little different, community.

A good community is very important to female gamers, people they can ask questions to, get support from and get help from. I think everyone wants that. A good community is essential to both MMOs and offline games (such as the mod community for games like Half Life). Help and support is always a welcome sight. I guess that, that isn't very specific to women either.

Something you find in MMOs and FPS games a lot is PvP. Do women want that? Sure they do, maybe not nearly as much as men, but we want it just the same. I think, perhaps, we've found something that may differ a little from our male counterparts, so let me explain a little more.

Women want to fight their fellow player in an MMO as much as men do. The difference is, in my experience, that they want it for different reasons. It's not always about proving you're higher level or bigger and better. Usually it has to do with the story, a reason. In the case of an MMO or FPS, women can get their mad killing urges out of the way, but there's something more. A clan/team pride and a sense of accomplishment in what they've done. The same goes for an MMO also, only there are additional things, like story. In the end though it's about involvement, which takes us back to immersion, which again includes community.

Let's try to find something else then, like accomplishment. The sense that all this time you have spent in the game is worth something, that in the end you get something for your hard work. This mostly applies to MMOs and FPS games to a lesser extent. Women want something to show for their hard work. Really, who doesn't? Whether it's in the form of levels, really good items or rankings, everyone wants to see something for the time they have put in.

We want to be treated like any other player.

Who wants to be singled out just because of their sex? It'd be like singling out someone because they're gay (which is a whole new can of worms). Women want to play the game and enjoy it, just like men do. Being treated differently can ruin the game for people, both men and women. This mostly applies to online games, where the environment involves interaction directly with other players. In the end we just want to play, not be singled out.

So in the end women want the same thing as men out of games. There may be different reasons why, but it’s the same in the end. It's not always the how, but the why. Why someone does something always varies, for both men and women. My examples above aren't all encompassing; there are always exceptions to the rule. The question games developers are asking though isn't one of specifics, but of a generalisation. Now if they'd just ask girl gamers, they might just get some real answers to their questions.

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Donna Desborough