Women Play Video Games?

by on September 16, 2008 · 31 comments

The Washington Post reports today on a trend that I thought we all knew about, but one I’m glad the mainstream media is finally realizing.  It turns out that people who play video games are not just virginal teenage boys with acne problems.  No, even 20-something, attractive women play video games.

The Post’s Mike Musgrove reports on the mother and daughters of the Burguieres family of Bethesda, Maryland.  Of course in good journalist fashion Musgrove uses the Burguiereses to illustrate a larger point, he even points to the relevant stats:

It used to be that this all-woman crew wouldn’t fit the standard image of the video game consumer. But the perception of gamers as being mostly young guys isn’t so true anymore. Women and girls make up 40 percent of the gamer population, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

The most interesting point brought up in the article on this demographic trend—one that most gamers realize has been happening for quite some time—is Musgrove’s observation that women once were not naturally accepted members of the gaming community.  It’s a great point, but one that can be extended to tech community in general.

It’s not only cool for girls to play games on the Wii, more and more women and becoming full-fledged uber nerds.  Morgan Webb, Veronica Belmont, and Molly Wood have become big voices in the tech community—they’re serious commentators and understand the industry as well as their male counterparts.  Hopefully they’re inspiring more girls to get geeky.

As much as free market or libertarian types sometimes believe that culture is an irrelevant backdrop, it’s not.  Cultural norms matter.  Popularizing and making tech appealing amongst women is crucial.  If some of our best minds were deterred from tech in the past because Bill and the Steves were its most visible avatars, that hurts all of us.  What’s accepted socially can sometimes create a barrier to entry that’s as significant as what’s allowed legally.

Video games specifically have benefited tremendously by their more diverse audience.  Games aren’t just tailored to the desires of teenage boys, but are targeted at an older, more sophisticated audience.  Contemporary games show the value the market places on character development and storyline, along with the usually shoot ’em up and gore.

Politicians were once able to demonize video-games as the opiates of the teen and twenty-something male masses.  These violence-soaked diversions were deviant behavior producing machines.  This misconception, thankfully, is no longer tolerated in Washington.  The gaming demographic not only includes more ladies, it includes more fogies.  As the Pong generation ages, we see more middle aged folks playing games—Adam can attest to this.  This helps safeguard video games from would-be First Amendment violators like Hillary Clinton, Sam Brownback, Fred Upton, Jack Thompson, and the many others who would uproot the ESRB system that works so well.

As much as Mosgrove may be late in catching this trend, it’s an important one to point out.  Everyone needs to feel accepted in the tech community.  A larger talent pool is never a bad thing, not to mention the bigger voting block.

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