In all the current hoo hah about video games, diversity and propaganda, it’s worth remembering that women make up nearly 50% of most kinds of gamers. There are some exceptions, of course. Unlike the comic industry, the video gaming industry has the money to study this sort of thing, and the Entertainment Software Association has put together many statistics on the age and gender of gamers. The most recent study shows that 48% of all gamers are women.

I was spit balling with Brett Schenker the other day, he of the groundbreaking Facebook study on comic demographics, and I wondered what his methodology would day about female games.

Brett has all his statistics here but the short version is that women make up the majority of several cagetories, including “games,” “board games,” “browser games,” “card games,” “casino games,” “first-person shooter games,” “gambling,” puzzle video games,” “video games,” and “word games.” They are significntly lower in “Strategy games,” “action games” MMorgs, and some other categories. A little commentary from Brett:

Those interested in “game consoles” is also a category to look at. In the United States, that’s 46 million individuals. Men are the majority here with 52.17%.

When you take out those questionable categories (like board games) and add in “console games” women are the majority at 52.94%.

Because of the wide use of the term “game” this isn’t rock solid, but it backs up statistics that are already well known throughout the gaming industry, with one study finding that women make up a slight majority of PC gamers.

I believe there is a technical term for this, and it’s “Yatzee!”


  1. I don’t think those numbers are meaningful to the boys’ club, though — as far as they’re concerned, the games women (and children) play don’t count.

    My observation of some people involved in Gamergate is that these are guys who consider “Gamer” to be an important part of their identity. When someone points out, rightly, that EVERYONE plays video games now, that feels, to them, as if their identity is being trivialized, trying to take away something that makes them special. So the kneejerk response is to delineate and to act as gatekeepers, explain why they’re still special (at the expense of other people).

    I’ve never been much for labels or exclusion, but there were some years of my childhood where I was pretty lonely and retreated into my own hobbies and interests, and I can admit some small amount of sour grapes when, for example, Lord of the Rings got adapted as a movie trilogy and suddenly everybody thought it was cool after all. To that extent, I can understand why people want to act as gatekeepers, and think that’s a way of defending what makes them different and special.

    But holy Christ it’s sure gotten ugly.

  2. “FPS’ were dominated by men with 66 percent.”
    “On Facebook, women are the majority of those who like … ‘first-person shooter games,'”

    I think the fact that Facebook “likes” contradict actual market research is a pretty clear example of why social media isn’t a good metric to judge things by. Facebook also has women under 30% in MMOs, shooting way below a BBC article I read a while back that claimed women at 40% of players (and rising) in those games.

  3. @Thad – I feel a kindred spirit :)

    I too relate to the underlying feelings the male gamers are feeling, even if I don’t agree with their response. It affects me more from the comics/super-hero angle. Having grown up virtually having to keep my comics reading a secret for fear of being further bullied, it always gives me a bit of a pang to see the same sort of people who used to reject me suddenly calling themselves “geeks” because they have an IPhone and have seen all three Iron Man movies.

    I want to be inclusive, but, you know, dang…

  4. Actually Nick, one has little to do with the other, I felt transparency was good and presented both. The one is just PC gamers, the other includes console gamers as well as PC. so it’s not the same data set at all. Without knowing exactly what they looked at, it was hard for me to do an exact comparison. Their data is also probably global, while I just looked at the United States. Again, not the exact same audience to compare the two well.

    Movies on the other hand match up very well with the likes and opening weekend audience, where the data is much clearer (movie title and then movie fan page).

    The point though is that women play games, and are a large portion of the population, and possibly a majority of it.

  5. Actually I did a quick look at adding in other countries and overall it becomes much closer to a 50/50 split, and in the first-person shooter stat mentioned above it’s also about 50/50. So again, they looked at global stats, while I initially just looked at the US.

  6. You know your “movement” is doomed when “No True Scotsman” is your default defense tactic. Unfortunately all the gators will see in those numbers is how few True Scotsmen there are.

    What I find ironic in all this gamergate nonsense is that what initially led me away from video games was the expansion of online multiplayer features in gaming. I was happy to call myself a gamer and buy the magazines and the newest games and all that until I had to play alongside other gamers and deal with their angst and desperate aggression. I ended up finding other hobbies (various aspects of music) which ironically were much more socially healthy and actually ended up making me a little money on the side.

    I realize that in America, your identity is something you can essentially buy at this point but people should also realize that this means it’s not important enough to start throwing rape threats all over the place when you feel your chosen demographic allegiance has been called into question.

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