Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Requisite Backlash

Yesterday Kotaku linked to Cerise, and predictably, hostility in the comments section ensued. Check out these related and brilliant blog posts that discuss gaming communities and women:

Harassment, silencing, and gaming communities
On women-oriented gaming communities
Kotaku Commenters Prove the Necessity of a Women's Gaming Magazine

There are many issues I’d like to address that I found while wading through the comments. Some would be separatism vs. integration, using the word misogyny instead of sexism, internalized sexism, and the idea that feminist gamers are sexist i.e. anti-male and anti-female.

However, what I want to focus on today is the idea that women gamers shouldn’t have their own outlet (or magazine such as Cerise) because their numbers don’t equal that of men who game. The actual demographics of people of video games can reveal a lot about the current climate of the video game industry and culture. So who has the controller? Brace yourself for some stats.

Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins wrote in their essay “Chess for Girls? Feminism and Computer Games” that in 1999, around 35 million homes in the United States owned one video game console, which is about 30-40% of American homes. In addition to this, 10-20% of homes rented consoles or shared with their neighbors. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2006 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data, 69% of American heads of households play computer or video games, the average game player’s age is 33, and 38% of percent of gamers are women. In fact, gamers consist more of women that are 18 years or older (30%) than that of boys who are 17 years or younger (23%), and according to Nielsen, women make up 64% of online gamers.

When we think of the typical gamer--and this includes the commenters over at Kotaku--a white, pimpled, horny teen boy is usually called to mind, yet the stats indicate that the gaming community is more diverse. The stats regarding women gamers, especially those that reveal that there are more adult women gamers than of teenage boys, challenges our stereotypical image of a gamer.

I’m sharing these stats because I want to reiterate that there are more female gamers out there than is usually acknowledged. However, even if we don’t outnumber men, it doesn’t mean our viewpoints are less valid. We’re a demographic and that’s enough. Besides, our ranks are growing. There’s a group of us that think the culture of our hobby could be better, and we aim to make our voices heard.

More reasons for a magazine for gaming women
Zach proves why nobody doesn't like Molten Boron

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