adventures in feminist video game fantasies

video gamesFeminists have been waging a campaign against video games. A frequent claim is that video games need to cater to the female demographic. They believe that their feminist notions should be inserted in mainstream releases of major computer and console titles (because they assume all women hold to their feminist ideals). In order to give their argument some credibility, they attempt to overestimate the number of female gamers. From an article in dailydot:

Congratulations, gamer girls—you’re officially at the top of the food chain when it comes to games. A new study released by the Entertainment Software Association has revealed that adult women now occupy the largest demographic in the gaming industry. Women over 18 made up a whopping 36 percent of the gaming population, followed by adult men at 35 percent… Teenage boys, who are often stereotyped as the biggest gamers, now lag far behind their older female counterparts, making up just 17 percent of the gaming demographic.

See what happened there? “Women” are the largest demographic because men are separated into two different groups. Now this would make sense if the study used these various groups to show a disparity in hours and types of games that are played, but the study does no such thing. Men make up 56% of all gamers (while men only make up 49% of the population).

The article concludes, based on this:

All of that means that stereotypes are breaking fast in the gaming industry, particularly the longheld stereotype of the adult woman as an outlier who sticks to mobile games and “social” games on Facebook while the more hardcore gamer, the “serious” (male) gamer, goes for console games.

Though this stereotype has long persisted, and even been used as a hiring tactic, the new data suggests there’s little if any truth to it—especially not when you consider that the average adult woman has been gaming for 13 years.

Sorry, male gamers of Reddit and 4Chan, but Angry Birds only came out five years ago. Unless you want to try to argue that women have just been playing Bejeweled for the last 13 years, the math just doesn’t add up.

Demeaning aside against Reddit and 4Chan: check.
Fundamental misunderstanding of opponents argument: check.
Inability to understand statistics: check.

So, a study which did not distinguish between phone based games and computer/console games proves that the stereotype of women playing phone based games is falling apart? This reporter should probably look for a profession that does not involve data interpretation. Studies show that women game less hours than men, spend less money on games than men, and even play widely different games than men.

To understand male and female gaming, the best studies would break out game hours by gender and device, but this type of study might not exist. It would hardly be a headline grabbing study and is possibly why the data is buried and ignored in the sensational headlines about the triumph of female gaming.

One study that attempted to look into the statistics showed the stereotypical insights. When primarily students were surveyed (2012), men were found to spend more than double of the time that females spent gaming:

Additionally, male gamers spent more hours per week (M = 17.46, SD = 19.72) playing games on the computer than female gamers (M = 6.51, SD = 12.58). Male and female players did not differ in terms of the amount of hours they spent playing games on other devices.

Men also dominated preference for computer gaming:


Notice the mobile gender discrepancy. So much for the dailydot article that thinks woman gaming stereotypes are inaccurate. It should be noted that this chart does not show the hour differential on the various devices, which might even further the woman-male divide on mobile devices and the consoles. This is also just showing preference, not total use.

A relevant chart from another site:


Also see: Mobile Demographics

Men also outspent their female counterparts by a significant amount:

Results from an independent samples t-test showed that male players spent significantly more dollars per year on video games (M = $333.92, SD = $606.92) than female players (M = $87.19, SD = $139.61).

Men and women are different. Men tend to be more obsessive than women. This extends to the world of video games, where men play more complicated, violent, and interactive video games than their female counterparts (and they play those games for longer sittings and total hours). Whereas a woman might not dream to play 20 hours straight of first person shooters, men regularly perform this feat. If feminists wish to peddle their philosophy to video game designers, perhaps they should sign up for some STEM classes first to understand the statistics they are attempting to use.


About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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