Once you look more closely at the genders behind the creation of video games, you’ll find that gaming isn’t the boy’s club that marketing might have you believe. In the U.S., women over the age of 18 now account for 36 percent of participants in video games. That’s double the number of male participants under 18 years of age, which clocks in at an underwhelming 17 percent. However, women are more than just players; they’re creating games, too.
The presence of women in the gaming community isn’t a new phenomenon. Since the surge of games specifically designed for female consumers in the 1990s, women have been pursuing degrees in design and tech that have them wrapped around the corner for job interviews. In 2014, the incoming class of gaming majors was made up of more women than men. This doesn’t necessarily indicate an upheaval- female game designers are still paid an average of 86 cents less on the dollar than their counterparts- but it does suggest a change in the realm of mindsets behind game creation. Due to this influx of female creators, today’s games have more female protagonists than ever before, which appeal to professional and amateur gamers alike.
With both feminine and masculine approaches to game development, in-game universes can be built that appeal to a wider and more versatile gaming audience. The female writers behind the plots for story-driven video games are introducing more moving and empathetic storylines than were present a decade ago. Video games that deal with a relatable character’s identity crisis or path towards redemption (The Last of Us, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn, to name a few) provide connections for the player that are difficult to imitate. These narratives offer a welcoming space for women and a refreshing one for men.
The environment of the industry itself has changed with the even distribution of genders, presenting fresh opportunities for narrative and character in gameplay. The difference in perspective that’s evoked once diversity is introduced into a shared creative space is revolutionizing the field of gaming.
Adequate representation of gender spurs innovation in whatever field of interest it’s applied to. The industry behind games is changing, and women are here to play.
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