Women and Video Games Survey Results

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

We frequently share our opinions on gender equality in video games here at Gamer Equality, but recently we ran a survey to find out what the general gaming public’s attitude to woman and video games really is. Here are the results…

Open to both genders, a whopping 63% of survey participants were female. This may seem strange given that more men play games (we were certainly expecting a male majority) but it goes to show just how passionate women are about the subject and judging by the answers both sexes are for change.

The majority of respondents were aged 22-30 reflecting the much-documented evidence that gaming is now no longer a pastime almost exclusively engaged in by young males. Contrary to the stereotype of the juvenile gamer, the majority who venture to virtual realms are now mature, professional people that have grown up alongside the medium. Interestingly, the lowest category was actually the under 16, what would have been the overwhelming majority just a generation ago.

Most participants responded that they engage with games every day or almost every day, given the female majority taking the survey it’s hard to support the assumption that women don’t participate in gaming as often as men do.

When asked about the types of games that they play Adventure and RPGs had the clear majority with over three-quarters of participants claiming to engage with those genres. Action followed close behind with 62.63% of the vote. Puzzle and Casual games were next with over 50%. This reflects the already established data that women traditionally tend to enjoy more casual mobile experiences, but the popularity of other genres indicates that that’s far from all that they enjoy.

6% of those surveyed said they frequently witnessed or personally experienced, harassment based on gender during online sessions. 13% noted this behaviour occasionally. Encouragingly 23% said they never witness or receive this kind of abuse online and a quarter of the people survey said it only happened rarely. Of course in reality, statistics are likely to be higher given that 32% of people asked said that they don’t play online.

There’s a clear call for more female players, with 74% saying they’d like to see more women taking up gaming as a hobby and it turns out female developers are even more in demand. 79% admitted that they think more women should be employed in the industry. Female game characters are also wanted, with 61% saying they’d like more games to starring the fairer sex. And that’s not surprising given that 58% of those surveyed tend to play as a female when given the choice. There’s a clear demand for revolution regarding the portrayal of those female characters however, with 74% of respondents claiming that they think females are over-sexualised or portrayed inappropriately. Only 10% prefer female characters to be sexy and scantily clad rather than strong and serious, meaning both men and women alike want to see more playable Aloy and Lara types rather than secondary eye-candy characters.

A worrying 43% avoid disclosing their gender during online matches out of fear of receiving abuse. 6% admitted to exhibiting negative behaviour towards female players in the past, while only 2% agreed that they dislike playing with female players. 3% of those surveyed said that they didn’t think that women were as competent as men at games while a much larger 20% said that they feel many women fake their interest in games just to get attention.

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey, it’s reassuring to see the high demand for participation that it received showing that it’s an area that gamers are interested in. The mostly positive responses show that although there are issues of intolerance, the majority of gamers are an accepting and friendly bunch who want gaming to be inclusive for everyone. Through raising awareness and changing the out-dated attitudes in both women’s treatment and portrayal we can achieve just that.

 

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Liverpool Girl Geeks’ Quest to Get More Women into the Tech Industry

Peer behind the bright visuals and impressive tech of video games, a pastime designed to entertain and delight its audience and you’ll see an industry crippled with misogyny and sexism. For being the most advanced entertainment art form on the planet, the industry’s opinion on how women should be treated is planted firmly in the Stone Age. One of the main reasons the industry alienates females is due to the sheer lack of women working in it. Instead, it is a male dominated industry making products targeted almost exclusively at men, reinforcing the idea that women shouldn’t play them and women shouldn’t make them.

Fortunately, organisations like Liverpool Girl Geeks are spreading the message that being in possession of lady parts doesn’t mean that you can’t also pursue a career in video games or the wider technology industry. LGG head up  technology-focused courses, workshops, and events for females of all ages to educate and inspire. They run academies spanning 8 weeks that teach specific skills, like coding for girls aged 14-17, tech-based bootcamps and a free club for 11-17 year old that offer young ladies the opportunity to try out tech and as well as offering field trips to places like the engineering lads of Liverpool University and local digital companies.

Jo Morfee, director at Liverpool Girl Geeks, said:

“We believe that our teen programmes are an essential part of the longer term strategy to tackle the current gender imbalance and skills gap in the technology sector. The digital and tech sector is continuously evolving and as a result, there are so many fantastic job opportunities out there. These girls are the future of tech and it is so rewarding to be able to work with them closely to inspire and support them into the industry. ”

For women interested, or already involved, in the technology industry, there are also free monthly meetups and low-cost courses.

It’s not only Liverpool Girl Geeks that feel the tech sector would benefit from a woman’s touch, this year PlayStation have shown their support for the endeavour by sponsoring the organisations second Bootcamp. Launched on February 28 and running for six weeks the course teaches skills like website building and coding and gives girls the chance to meet other girls keen to get their geek on.

Speaking about the sponsorship, Michelle Tilley, Senior Release Manager at PlayStation, said:

“There is a gender imbalance within our technology sector and we need to take action now to ensure a more balanced and inclusive industry for the future. The Games Industry is an amazing place to work so we should actively encourage young women to join it by inspiring, championing and empowering them to achieve their dreams. I believe by supporting Liverpool Girl Geeks we are working towards this culture change.”

The endeavour is indeed a commendable one, but the lack of places means that only a small number of applicants actually get to participate in the Bootcamps. Last year, of the 90 applicants the programme only had the means to offer a place to 15 girls, traveling from as far as Llandudno to participate. This kind of programme could see wide benefits from expansion to the rest of the United Kingdom and hopefully, we’ll see more organisations like this one spring up to really make an impact on a number of females joining the tech sector and particularly the games industry, where their treatment has been particularly hostile.

More women working in the games industry would likely entice more women into playing games. It doesn’t mean that every well-known franchise would suddenly turn into a dress-up game, dating sim or restaurant management title, despite popular opinion there are actually a significant number of females who enjoy traditional gaming experiences like witnessing the cranium of a zombie explode with a well-placed headshot or taking on a mighty fire-breathing dragon. What we would likely see is a better representation of women in games with more realistic female characters playing significant roles and a decrease in tropes that alienate female players.

The treatment that women receive through being the minority and the stereotype that tech is a man’s world is enough to put most females off even entertaining the idea of a career in the tech sector. However, the reality is that the more women that do pursue a career in the industry the more the situation will improve and it’s through associations like Liverpool Girl Geeks that equality can become a reality. A larger percentage of women in the games industry would send the message to young girls that it’s perfectly acceptable to be interested in and pursue a career in this traditionally male pursuit. Who knows? Among the Girl Geek recruits could be the next Jade Raymond or Kim Swift.

(featured image courtesy of pixabay.com)