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 hulu.com 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!