Just stop it already: Women do play video games

Don Reisinger is here to correct the same old stereotype. Believe it or not, women do play video games, and they might even be better than you.

Over the past few weeks, I've heard from reputable news outlets that video games are made specifically for men and most women find little reason to play.

According to these neanderthals, games like MGS4 and GTAIV are designed for men, just like sports games are, driving simulators are, and most other titles are. And if titles are not made for men, they're made for children. All the while, women are left out in the cold.

But is that even close to true? I certainly don't think so, and to be quite honest, I think it's insulting to women to suggest such a thing. Just because most media outlets show men playing video games and the majority of people playing games are men, it doesn't mean women are left out, and you might be surprised to know that women really do play games and have a very real interest in the industry.

Even with that in mind, I don't see why it's so hard to accept. How have we come to a point where we denigrate the fact that women play video games and try desperately to paint it as a male-controlled industry? Evidently it stems from a total disregard for the facts, but maybe (just maybe) some people are opening their eyes for once.

According to the International Game Developers Association, women represent 40 percent of all gamers. And although the Entertainment Software Association pegs that number at about 38 percent, it found that the average female gamer plays games 7.4 hours per week.

With that in mind, how is it possible that women represent just 12 percent of the video game industry? Ostensibly, it's not for lack of interest--the numbers speak for themselves--so it must be something else. Unfortunately, it seems those same stereotypes may be to blame.

According to CNN, "More than 60 percent of female students enrolled in game design programs at The Art Institutes said they believed male dominance in the industry is a deterrent to women pursuing a career in gaming, according to a survey commissioned by SOE."

And therein lies the rub. Instead of inviting the fact that more women are getting into the gaming industry, the same old stereotype is ruling all else.

It's time we wake up and realize that women really do enjoy video games. It's not fair to simply say that because most developers are men and video game critics are overwhelmingly male, women aren't members of the gaming community. In reality, it's quite the opposite.

Some like to say that women only play games like Wii Fit, but the reality of the situation is quite different.

As Torrie Dorrell, senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Sony Online Entertainment, explained to CNN: "Women are out there in significant numbers playing MMOs, action games, first-person shooters. What is lacking in the equation are women behind these games."

So where do we go from here? Certainly we can't simply sit back and accept the fact that stereotypes exist in the video game industry and women are being forgotten. Instead, we need to finally pull our heads out of the sand and welcome the fact that women are very much a part of the video game industry and should play an even greater role in its development going forward.

So next time you hear someone say that women don't play video games or listen to some uninformed loon try to tell you that the video game industry is for men, make them realize that women play video games, too. And just in case they don't believe you, have them log on to Halo 3--I'm sure a woman would be more than happy to frag them into oblivion.

Want to know what Don is up to? Follow him on Twitter, identi.ca, and FriendFeed.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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