Snagging Gamer Girls: For Boys and Businesses
The spunky, devoted gamer girl has been skipping into the spotlight more frequently as video games have become a staple of home entertainment. The old cliché of the unpopular dorky girl sitting in her mother's basement is long over, but there still seems to be a disconnect between what true gamer girls want and what is out there for them to play and experience in the gamer world.
Stereotypes AhoyWhen you type “gamer girls” into a search engine, barrages of scantily clad porn-looking vixens will flood your screen. Maybe she's wearing nothing but a strategically-placed Guitar Hero guitar, Photoshopped to perfect proportions and happens to be licking a PSP seductively as she beckons the camera with her eyes. This is not what a gamer girl is.
It's also a safe guess that the girl dressed up like Princess Peach at the Halloween bash probably doesn't have a clue how to use Shiva's life serum when the T-Virus starts to take hold. Real gamer girls generally don't run around seeking attention for being someone's fantasy of what an ideal gamer girl should be. They live their regular lives, play newer games on Zynga or the best online casino's and can still boast the highest score in their favorite traditional video games. If you want to market to a real gamer girl, the old philosophy of sexing it up and “shrink it and pink it” isn't going to cut it.
Stats Don't LieWomen's gaming trends tend to sway more heavily toward social gaming that allows them to multi-task and share the experience with friends.
According to The Verge, “Zynga's games boast more than 300 million monthly active users. It claims its players are performing one million in-game activities every second, and more than 55 million people from all around the world play at least one of Zynga's games every day.” And most of these gamers are women.
The book “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat” reveals “about 38 percent of video game players and 42 percent of online game players are female. About 70 percent of casual gamers are women. Estimates vary, but it is clear that women have become a major subgroup in gaming. Yet the industry still ignores them.”
Marketing FinesseThere is a clear need for marketing and game content to be tailored more toward actual women. While it's a given that 13-year-old boys like to drool over the prospect of Olivia Munn playing PS3 in her panties, that's just not going to cut it for girls who are serious about gaming. There are plenty of real girls out there who don't want to see another pink virtual kitchen for them to play in.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “making games for girls has had a transformational impact on Ubisoft. The company in 2004 also began sponsoring an all-female team of game players called Frag Dolls, to help promote women in gaming.”
Although the Frag Dolls play games like Left 4 Dead and Gears of War, Ubisoft still continues to push games like “Your Shape” and “Petz” into the limelight.
For those looking to connect with women gamers, from a business perspective or personally, involve them in the process of creating the games and take time to actually absorb their feedback. Don't tell them why you like it, ask them what they would like and listen.