Charting the Rise of Girl Gamers in 2020
There are endless clichés and stereotypes about gamers, one of the most prevalent being that the typical gamer is a male player aged under 30.
12:37 12 November 2020
While such players may have made up a large chunk of the gaming industry’s audience back in the days of the original Console Wars, gaming and gaming audiences have evolved significantly since then.
In the second decade of the 21st century, the gaming audience is refreshingly diverse; there’s no longer such a thing as a typical gamer. Gaming is an activity that’s popular with players from across all age ranges and economic backgrounds, and as the gaming industry has boomed throughout 2020, female gamers are proudly stepping into the spotlight.
Women are leading the way in the World’s Gaming Capital
Asia is well known for being the “Gaming Capital of the World”, with 48% of the global gaming industry’s total revenue being generated in the region. It’s no surprise that the gaming trends popular in China, South Korea and Japan rapidly go mainstream throughout the rest of the world.
Despite its long history with gaming, however, the region hasn’t been as welcoming to female players as other gaming capitals like the US and UK. But that’s beginning to change, as the Asian female gaming community has grown substantially in recent years.
Last year, Asia’s ‘Girl Gamers’ demographic grew by a total of 19%, but that figure has almost doubled over the past 10 months. Female gamers now account for 38% of the 1.33 billion gaming population in Asia. According to Google & Niko Partners, that breaks down to 45% of the Chinese gaming community, and 40% of the Japanese, South Korean, and Southeast Asian communities.
The growth has been across the board, from amateur players of mobile phenomenons like Honor of Kings to professional eSports players, who are pulling in earnings of upwards of $20 million.
There’s also been an increase in the number of female live-streamers who are being snapped up by gaming powerhouses to offer a female perspective. Reia Ayunan, an RPG live streamer who broadcasts throughout Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia, has been vocal about the disparity between the diverse gaming audience and the content created for them - “society still assumes that women don’t like playing...therefore we’re not the target demographic”. She’s recently been hired by French gaming specialists Ubisoft to produce gaming content for the female audience.
New ground in iGaming
Women aren’t just making their presence known in the video gaming and eSports sectors of the industry, either, they’re also breaking new ground in the iGaming industry. With each passing year, there are more and more female players turning professional in fields like online poker and that trend is also emerging in grassroots iGaming.
Online casino games have stereotypically been associated with male gamers, but a new study reveals that slot games, including online slots variants like progressive jackpots, are much more popular with female gamers here in 2020. Compiled by Oregon State University-Cascades, the study reveals that slots are actually most popular with female players in the 55 – 60 age categories. This new wave of gamers is also affluent, earning at least $55,000 annually and owning their own homes.
Shifting representation in gaming content
2020 has also been a pivotal year for female gamers in that it’s been the first year on record where the gap between games starring male characters and those starring female characters has been as low as 5%.
Titles like The Last Of Us Part II and Wolfenstein: Youngblood have put female characters at the heart of the narrative, and they’re being eagerly consumed by male and female players alike. Another major 2020 release, Marvel’s Avengers (Square Enix), placed Ms Marvel at the centre of the game, building the narrative around her rather than the more obvious Iron Man or Captain America. Meanwhile, CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 is promising to “do away” with binary gender choices for characters. Instead, gamers will be able to choose a body type and match it with a female or male sounding voice.
While there’s still a long way to go before the playing field is fully equal, female players and female protagonists are finally beginning to get the recognition and representation that they thoroughly deserve.