How technology is shrinking gaming’s gender gap

Woman Using Vr Goggles

When you imagine the typical gamer it’s all too easy to slip into the traditional stereotype. The image that probably comes to mind is of a male player, aged in his 20s, whose only human interaction is spending time with other, identical, players in their own rooms doing exactly the same thing. But the reality is that this is a view that’s as out-dated as girls liking to play with dolls while boys play with toy soldiers.

That’s because video gaming and its various off shoots are now almost as popular with women players as they are with men. So now might be a good time to reassess many assumptions about gaming in general – and this is almost certainly something that games developers will have firmly in their sights if they want to grow the market. The causes of this increased female participation in games are many and various and, together, they have created the perfect storm in which more and more women are becoming involved.

While some have reasoned that a key driver behind this has been the sheer ubiquity of gaming devices, the reality is rather more nuanced than this.

The mobile takeover

Woman Wearing Purple Shirt Holding Smartphone White Sitting on Chair

As far back as 2018 the use of games consoles and PCs for video gaming was being overtaken by mobile devices. Faster broadband speeds, ever more powerful cell phones and tablets and an increasing number of games available, generally for free, were the key drivers behind this. The fact that mobile games started to be generally available to download for free proved to be the biggest draw for new players, especially as console games grew more and more expensive with their developers trying to claw back the high production costs involved in creating ever-more sophisticated games.

Whereas playing the old-style console games needed to be scheduled into a day’s activity, the mobile games that were emerging tended to be quicker and easier to play. Best of all, they could be played whenever and wherever there was a wireless network. The speed and convenience steadily started to attract more women to play, starting to take gaming away from what had been a strictly male domain.

A further motivation that may also have started to attract women’s interest in games, and particularly those with children, may have been the moral panic that was growing about the younger generation’s gaming habits. For many, it may have been a question of trying to learn about the appeal of gaming so they could better understand why their children are so keen to play them for so long and so often.

Branching out

As well as video games, other sites that started to attract more and more women players were online casinos. These, too, had previously been a male-dominated activity but now so many started to be available via mobile devices it opened them up to a far wider group of players.

It’s taken another technological breakthrough to make these even more popular with women and that has been the advent of live casino games. And it’s easy to see why, 777 Casino offer players the chance to live stream games to their device, making it the ideal gaming option for those with a busy lifestyle. There’s no doubting that the stylish tables, the ability to play while relaxing and the interactive nature of these live casino games has dramatically increased the number of female gamers.

Where the old-style casinos were effectively playing against a computer and software designed to replicate the randomness of a roulette wheel or the dealing of cards, the live casino does this for real. Real time games are played out with dealers whose actions are streamed live with the information about the game being digitized as it happens. The fact that it’s a much more “human” experience than the automated alternative makes it a far more female-friendly, as does the fact that you can also chat online to the dealer and other players as the action unfolds.

The most common games that can be played in the live online casino are also some of the biggest favourites in the standard version, namely roulette, blackjack and baccarat, with a number of sites also offering three card poker. It’s in the card games in particular that the interaction is the greatest as players compete directly against the dealer.

A different kind of game

Person Holding Microsoft Xbox One Controller

The general groundswell of female interest in gaming, and mobile gaming in particular, is also having an effect on the sorts of mobile games that are starting to appear. Every year a huge number are launched with distinctly female themes which are far removed from the shoot-em-up nature of Call of Duty or the even more dubious examples of sexual politics demonstrated in the GTA series.

Often, these have stronger and more subtly constructed narratives to them which perhaps need a greater depth of imagination to fully appreciate than simply the desire to kill zombies before they kill you. One only has to look at a list of typical titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to appreciate the differences that they encompass.

That’s not to say that the games for women are all soft and fluffy. That quintessential powerful role model Lara Croft has also undergone something of a character change from the original version. In Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition she has returned, stronger and more empowered than before, in much the same way the film franchise of the same name has moved with the times.

And, while mobile is very much the favoured form of play for women, they are making great strides in the field of console-based esports too. Female representation is high on many of the leading teams and a number of women are starting to make some pretty serious money in competition with the men.

What’s next?

Looking to the future, we can expect to see more and more women being drawn into the world of gaming and working hard to break through the glass ceiling of professional gaming too. It’s also reassuring to know that within the games companies themselves there are increasing numbers of female developers, creative directors and even CEOs. So, it would very much seem that, at long last, girl power has come to gaming.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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