Media and “new” female gamers

When turning on the television this past weekend I came across an NBC  Today show segment discussing females playing video games. The segment was titled “Lookout Boys! Female gamers on the rise.” It is available on for a few more days for those that did not see it.


The segment centers around the idea that more women are playing video games than ever before and that this is due to the inclusion of fitness games such as Wii Fit. The segment starts with the following introduction: “Conventional wisdom says they are only for kids, frat boys, and husbands who are still kids or frat boys. But nowadays video games found a new and growing fanbase: adult women.” Then it cuts to the reporter at her apartment with friends and a fitness expert playing Wii Fit. Later there is a comment that “We used to have Jane Fonda on the VHS. Now we have women playing with their Wiis.”

The segment is a mismatch of views. While it begins by implying that women are new to playing video games it also gives the figure that 40% of gamers are female which is a larger portion of gamers than young boys. How new can these female gamers be if they already fill up such a large percentage of the market? Nick Thompson from Wired magazine appears in the roughly 4 minute long segment.  He remarks that a survey he did of his female facebook friends had Mario, Guitar Hero, and Resident Evil listed as their favorite games which shows that women do play many genres of video games available. When the reporter asks if marketing departments will start targeting more genres towards women so that they play a variety of games he replies with “They (women) are involved in games other than fitness.” He even says that women are not a new demographic of gamers. A new demographic would be “70 and 80 year olds.”

The segment left me rather upset. Despite overwhelming evidence that women DO play video games and more than simply fitness games the story was still leaning toward the idea of the “newness” or “trend” of female gamers. An editor from Wired magazine is telling the viewers that women are involved in this media and yet it is still being dismissed as a trend. What will it take for the media to accept women as gamers and not look at them as interlopers in a clearly male medium? As the title of the segment says, “Lookout boys!”, women are coming after your video games!

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22 Responses to Media and “new” female gamers

  1. kjdawson80 says:

    Is THAT what I heard in the background when I was working on your computer?! I thought it was something you heard on the radio on your way back from BB.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      Yes, that was the segment in the background while you were working on the computer. National Sunday morning show segment.

  2. just more evidence of how clueless people are when it comes to female gamers, who existed long before the wii came around, thank you.

  3. Dickie says:

    These are the same reporters that would be “shocked” to hear that successful business people also play video games on their off time, and that children are not the majority of gamers… but that’s what passes for journalism these days, meanwhile us dirty Bloggers are messing everything up for those “real” journalists!

  4. no one important says:

    So the mainstream press is finally figuring out something I knew when I was six years old and my mom and aunt were teaching me how to play Super Mario Bros.

  5. no one important says:

    Also (sorry for the double post) what’s going on here is the “new trend” of women playing games is being confused with the ACTUAL new trend of certain companies (mainly Nintendo and Popcap) finally starting to acknowledge women as being part of their customer base.

    • Alex says:

      Great point!

      Way to go, Nick Thompson, I guess?

      • Gunthera1 says:

        When I first saw him in the segment I was worried about what he was going to say based on the tone of the piece but then he really seemed to agree that as long as people have been playing video games some of those players were female. It amazes me that some people see that as inconceivable.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      It is certainly nice to be acknowledged as part of the customer base. Some companies do it well. I just wish more companies would take the tone of the Nintendo ads where women are just a part of the larger group that is “gamers” rather than the mishmash of little girls/adult women/pink/sparkly/unicorn advertising.

  6. Jalestra says:

    “Conventional wisdom says they are only for kids, frat boys, and husbands who are still kids or frat boys. But nowadays video games found a new and growing fanbase: adult women.”

    And regardless of men or women, we’re all immature anyhow. I think I’m just as bothered by the idea that only immature people play video games.

  7. Alex says:

    By the way, does anyone have a link to the Women Play Games Now! Article Bingo card? I can’t find it, but I think this video (or at least the reporter’s statements) would be a winner.

  8. Twyst says:

    Ridiculous that it has taken this long for anyone to realize (well, mainstream media) that everyone plays games. I have been playing games for almost 25 years now. 25 yeeeeeeeeeeeears.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      It upsets me because I know that early Dungeons and Dragons ads showed both males and females and I remember early NES ads also included females. How did we go backwards since that time?

  9. Mantheos says:

    I do not consider Wii Fit or Wii Music or anything Wii like that as a video game. When I think of gamers, I think of people playing actual actual video games. From RPG’s like Dragon Age, to strategy games like Empire Total War, to shooters such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

    • Alex says:

      Why are Wii Fit or Wii Music not video games? Because they are casual games? Because they aren’t violent? Because mostly women play them? Because they aren’t games that YOU play?

      Your definition of “real video game” is arbitrarily exclusionary and elitist.

      I mean, it’s like saying “I only think of book readers as people who read REAL books, like Tom Clancy or Stephen King.”

      • Deirdra says:

        My thoughts exactly — you won’t believe how often I come across this kind of elitist thought amongst gamers and game developers. It’s very annoying.

        There was a semi-recent post from the Geek Feminism blog that argued against the “us against them” mentality of the “hardcore vs. casual” divide (which I also can’t stand), and I think it’s quite pertinent to this conversation:

      • Mantheos says:

        I apologize for the elitist-ness. Sometimes I do it without realizing it. With that said, I always viewed those as simulations. I can stand on a surface and do those motions (well, sort of :) ) and that’s it. I can’t act out Assassin’s Creed unless I free-run up a building or something like that.

        As for the way I defined video games, I did not define them based off of whether or not women play them or if they are violent. While most of the games I play are violent to some extent, I enjoy non-violent ones just as much. For example: Mario Kart or sports games.

        I defined them based off of the fact that you sit down in a chair, look at a screen, and play the game with a controller in your hand.

        Then again, with developing technology, like Project Natal, the definition of “video game” is changing. So I can how my definition may need to change.

        • Mantheos says:

          Why can’t I type today? The last sentence should read, “So I can see how my definition may need to change.”

  10. Tamda says:

    My only response to this at first was something along the lines of ‘head desk’.

    And this right here is why I avoid things like Morning Shows and Talk Shows. They bring fresh and interesting (read irksome) misinformation to the masses.

    This does not surprise me, in any way shape or form. I seem to vaguely remember Game Informer doing a survey at the turn of the millennium, they posted the results and among the returned forms they found about 28%? were female. I know in MMORPGs the number has remained pretty high, especially since games like Ragnarok came out more than a decade ago.

    Hell the top 5 players on IRO were girls for a while. And as an ex Dread Lord from Ultima, I can safely say that there were many kicking girls there, in fact in my group of friends I had about 25 girls, and this is in the truely bad old days of the internet.

    So this “New trend” is just an example of Good Morning W.A.S.P. America trying to harness a new statistic they dislike and make it suit their needs in what they want for “American House Wives”.
    If they turn the steadily climbing numbers into a sudden trend due to the Wii, it’s about White-like Christian House Wives getting fit.

    That way they can say that it’s good women doing womanly things, and we’re safe to persecute and make blanket statements reguarding “Video Games” and “Gamers” being the innocent fallen lambs tained by evol and violent punks who have no lives. (Yes, both these statements are a bit of hyperbole, but break down their average comentary on the latest “Attack on our Youth!” outrage and that’s what it boils down to.)

    Ah, and that’s the other reason I avoid those shows. I know that I can’t do anything to change them, as they’re funded and fanatically supported by people I don’t have any contact with. Nor, honestly, do I really want to.

    It seems the fact that it’s a live broadcast is the only reason Nick got to have his remarks left in. Especially with how they ride over his coments without any commentary. Or is that just the way I am reading the transcript?

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