When we think of ‘gamers’ a certain stereotype appears in most people’s minds and this stereotype is more often than most a male. Video games have become increasing popular world wide, with a diverse range of games the demographic profile of the typical player or ‘gamer’ is also changing. As more and games are released or readily available consequently there has been an increase in average age and an equalising gender distribution (1)
However, the literature consistently finds that males play video games more frequently than females and play for longer intervals (2). It also states that both genders are equally likely to view video game playing as a masculine pursuit (3).
The gendering of video game play has been linked to low female motivation to play video games because of gender-role stereotyping (4). Particularly a connection has been made to reduced female participation in areas like science, mathematics, and technology, where there is a historical perception of women as ‘inferior’ (5).
Bryce and Rutter (2002) have argued that video game research must challenge the dominant gender stereotypes in gaming and focus on game-play as a “domestic” or leisure practice “in the context of everyday life” (p. 248), especially given the many genres of games, range of places in which to game and the popularity of domestic and online gaming among females.
Thus, context and personal experience become crucial factors in generating an explanatory model of female motivation in gaming. To date, there is no research on female gamers in circumstances where females are the perceived dominant gamers.
Female players are most pronounced in the ‘casual games’ industry (6), where they account for 51% of all players and 74% of the buyers (7).
Casual games have simple rules, allowing players to “get into” game-play quickly, are highly accessible to novice players, and can belong to any game genre (8). Researchers focusing on gender and computer games have suggested that casual games are often overlooked as “real” games because of an “unarticulated aesthetic” in the gaming community that considers mastery of so-called hardcore games as a right of passage to be a true gamer (9). Carr (2005) argues that simply because hard-core gamers appear more committed to their gaming, it does not mean that they are “more representative or more credible” than casual-gamers (p. 468).
As gender stereotypes persist regarding who is an ‘avid’ gamer, actual figures suggest that although males appear to play more than females, such findings are only true for certain countries, gaming platforms, and game genres (10).
Arguably it is possible that research into gaming may have overlooked different genres and platforms where female players are more common than it initially appears. The further in depth the research delves the more evident it becomes that certain studies may have overlooked these factors.
(1) (Entertainment Software Association, 2009).
(2) Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008; Ogletree & Drake, 2007; Griffiths, Davies, & Chappell, 2004; Phillips, Rolls, Rouse, & Griffiths, 1995
(4) (Lucas & Sherry, 2004)
(5) see Cassell & Jenkins, 1998
(6) Krotoski, 2004
(7) Casual Games Association, 2007
(8) Juul, 2009
(9) Sweedyk & de Laet, 2005, p. 26
(10) Krotoski, 2004
An excerpt from Lewis, A.M. and Griffiths, M.D. (2011). A qualitative study of the experiences and motivations of female casual-gamers. Aloma: Revista de Psicologia, Ciències de l’Educació ide l’Esport, 28, 245-272. (Spanish and English text).
The complete text is available as a part of the “open journals” system:
Andrea Lewis is a psychologist and Managing Director of Ad Hoc Global Ltd. With a foundation in equity research, she has been leading product development in technology and digital media for over 12 years and leads UX due diligence assessments, research, and strategy.