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What Female Gamers Want

Posted by Jacana on Thu, 12/12/02 - 9:27 AM

Here is an interesting little article:

"Yes I Code"
As found on AGDC name tag 2002

Submitted by Blitz on Tue, 07/01/03 - 11:51 AM Permalink

Hahahahaha nice one.
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by Jacana on Tue, 07/01/03 - 11:57 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Souri

I don't look too good in a skirt either. [;)]

So I can put you down for front cover with bathers!

"Yes I Code"
As found on AGDC name tag 2002

Submitted by bradb on Tue, 07/01/03 - 8:30 PM Permalink

I go to bed early one night and i wake to find im in a calendar bah!

Damn Americans...

Brad Beddoes
Programmer / Biz Dev
Tycom Studios

Submitted by souri on Wed, 08/01/03 - 1:05 AM Permalink

I'm sure we can make enough prints to meet demand.. (1... for Jacana) [;)]

Submitted by souri on Wed, 08/01/03 - 8:36 AM Permalink

Speaking of what females want in games, there's a suitably relevant article at SMH on the whole thing..

"Purple Moon was founded by Brenda Laurel, who spent four years studying gender differences in computer gaming before bringing that research to market. The Rockett series she created focused on a group of junior high school girls who peeked into one another's diaries, swapped secrets and vied for social status. The company shut down in February 2000."

You can spend *4* years on researching what females want in games, and still *flop* in the market.

Submitted by Daemin on Wed, 08/01/03 - 9:09 AM Permalink

That's because they were only catering to what girl's would want in a game, and not in making good games. Thus they hit a very niche market that wasn't really interested in paying games, so they didn't sell a thing and went bust.

I think what we should've learnt as people of the industry is that if we make good games for everybody then we'll make good games for everybody. Its as simple as that.

Submitted by MUZBOZ on Thu, 09/01/03 - 2:33 AM Permalink

Just regarding the comments about Roberta Williams earlier in this discussion, I don't think it is at all valid to push those games aside as being "popular at the time only because they were at the cutting edge of games technology, not because they were well designed games".

I'd suggest that King's Quest 3 (probably the finest of the series, in my opinion) was a masterpiece of game design. Yes, game design itself has dated somewhat over the years, just as breakthrough cinematic techniques and conventions become passe over time and use, but Roberta Williams was one of the best game designers of the time.

She created many approaches to game design that still form the basis of the art form, such as the "string of pearls" story format whereby the character can freely roam about one area of the game, piecing together items and pieces of the story-puzzle, and only let into the next area (or the next pearl on the string) once they satisfy specific criteria, at which point, they can get to the next stage. This was a gret way of allowing for the fantastic freedom and multilinearity, while still maintaining a linear progression to the overall game. Things we kind of take for granted now, but things that she formed into rules to design by.

- Murray Lorden

Submitted by Maitrek on Thu, 09/01/03 - 9:59 AM Permalink

I have to disagree with the good designer part in reference to Roberta Williams, this is obviously just my opinion. It's just that she had every oppurtunity to improve her game design and gameplay techniques over the years, but she never did. The lucasarts scumm system was developed and vastly improved over time as opposed to her basic game design decisions, which never varied.

Although I can't say I played all of her games, only up to about kings quest 5, after that it got dreadfully dull.

She was a reasonable story teller, but as an innovative game designer, it's hard to prove that her first attempt wasn't just a fluke and the result of simple logic at the time.

Still like I said, I could be wrong, I'm not the most informed critic of her work.

Submitted by Grif on Sat, 11/01/03 - 4:16 PM Permalink


quote:I think what we should've learnt as people of the industry is that if we make good games for everybody then we'll make good games for everybody. Its as simple as that.

...but what makes a "good game" for a female-only target market? There are certainly games targeted at a male-only audience... is there a "chick flick"-style formula or genre for games floating around out there somewhere? =) On that "chick flick" thought, Japan's always been very big on the romance games front... I'd be interested to see just what percentage of its female population actually plays those sorts of games.

- Grif

Submitted by Blitz on Sat, 11/01/03 - 9:49 PM Permalink

I think one of the things trying to be said is, sure there exists this target market of young girls etc. and you CAN make a game that they would love to play, but theres no point (from a commercial standpoint) because they don't want to play computer games. It comes to a point where the people you are creating the game for are not playing computer games because they simply don't want to, rather than because there aren't any computer games they like.
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by Maitrek on Sun, 12/01/03 - 3:59 AM Permalink

quote: I think one of the things trying to be said is, sure there exists this target market of young girls etc. and you CAN make a game that they would love to play, but theres no point (from a commercial standpoint) because they don't want to play computer games.

See I'm not so sure about that anymore myself. I'm not a little kid anymore, so I don't exactly socialise with alot of younger girls, but I think there is a market at the young girl level nowadays but we don't use that to go on to the "tweener" market or the young adult female gamer market, then the adult female gamer market.

The problem is we aren't creating the games for the market out there, chicks in general are far more computer literate than they used to be but us male gamers think we own the whole damn joint/market.

Snootchie bootchies!
Any off-topic issues send to

Submitted by Daemin on Sun, 12/01/03 - 4:40 AM Permalink

Usually when someone targets the female gamer audience they make the game all cutesy and pinky and stuff, using all the regular cliches about female gamers. This doesn't necessarily make a good game, and IMO it wouldn't sell that well either. Sure there's a market for Barbie, but that's because there's a giant multi-national corporation behind that product.

My main point is to just make good games for all genders, not specifically targetted towards females, add a good and involving storyline, and also make the female characters in your games appear realistic - instead of being lara croft clones. I think that is what "general" female gamers might want (taken from various articles that I've read).

Submitted by Jacana on Sun, 12/01/03 - 5:02 AM Permalink

Maybe the romance in games to attract female players works with some markets but that does not really sound like something that is going to pull me into a game :)

I will say ditching chainmail bikini's is a great start - it only took Everquest how many years to get rid of Beach Party Wood Elf?

Hmm.... I think a high level of interaction in games is part of what my attract a female gamer. In online games you have the interaction with other real players and games like The Sims have interaction between bots.

"Yes I Code"
As found on AGDC name tag 2002

Submitted by Maitrek on Sun, 12/01/03 - 10:10 AM Permalink

I agree with Jacana, if there ever was a place for female gamers it would be in the highly socially evolved (cough) lands of the I said before, it's a female friendy type of game, and yet still has the familiar gaming content that some femme/guy gamers can relate to.

Also less guy-driven game content such as over-boobed characters with nothing on.

Snootchie bootchies!
Any off-topic issues send to

Submitted by Tripitaka on Fri, 02/05/03 - 9:17 PM Permalink

The designer responsible for the romance subplot in Baldur's Gate 2 is a dear friend of mine, who first inspired me to get into the games industry - I really liked it.

I don't know how I managed to miss that article mentioning Purple Moon in the SMH - I spent quite some time researching the Purple Moon situation after hearing about it at the AGDC a few years ago. One thing the SMH does not mention - Purple Moon didn't `close down' - it was bought by Mattel, who had offered something like 100 million for it a year beforehand, but Purple Moon held out for 200 million. Eventually Mattel picked it up for something like 4 million. It was a pretty sorry story.

The trouble with the Purple Moon research is that, in my opinion, it was fundamentally flawed. There is a good percentage of girls who will NEVER play games, and an equally good percentage who would if anything good came out (and by `girls' I mean under 15). Rather than target the second group, they targeted the first, and ended up alienating the second.

It reminds me of a doll they brought out ten or fifteen years ago called the `Happy to be Me' doll. She was a Barbie substitute with a `realistic body shape' yada yada yada ... all a very good cause indeed, but it didn't sell a bean. Why? Easy - why does an eight year old give a damn about body image?

On a not unrelated topic - I wonder what's become of Stevie Case lately? (And yes, she shits me to tears ...)

Submitted by Daemin on Fri, 02/05/03 - 10:09 PM Permalink

Stevie Case - Works for Activision in public relations or something, and has done for a while now.

Submitted by Malus on Fri, 02/05/03 - 10:17 PM Permalink

I feel in my opinion that alot of the reason games these days don't appeal to girls/women is partially to do with lazy marketing tactics and the lack of females in development houses.

Its proven that alot of the market is aimed at early to late teen males, they will generally buy a game even if its story line is flawed or nonexistent as long as there is gratuitous sex and/or violence. (DOA Beach volley ball, numerous FPS games) where as the female market doesn't generally get the satisfaction of this style of game(although some will of course).

Its just lazy to market to younger men because honsetly at that age we aren't all that complex to understand (food, girls, being cool, rebelling against everything).

Gaming is often about doing things you cannot in reality right? I play as women sometimes because its a role I'm obviously incapable of experiencing in real life. But the idea of playing as a scantily clad tart doesn't appeal to me, its boring, done to death, now if guys like me feel this way how are women going to react to the same character?

I hate the typical large breasted female models in games, it offends me as an intelligent post pubescent gamer, I'd prefer to see and play as women I can respect, they can still kick arse, my girlfriend does [:P].

So what do we do?
First more women developers, women know what women want, guys universally get this wrong, ask Oprah lol.
Secondly, well suspensful, compelling, deep and 'original' storylines, coupled with characters that you are worthy of playing as, players you care about not just lust after.

I'd be interested to see a poll about things that both men and women would like to see in a games, you'd be suprised that alot of the answers are the same.

Submitted by Maitrek on Sat, 03/05/03 - 3:37 AM Permalink

The Longest Journey?

I don't think it's female leads that's required, cause TLJ did **** anyway, it's just more female themes required in games.

Oni as well, she wasn't exactly pretty or huge-boobed and she kicked arse, but it's not like that brought female gamers to the market.

It's not the characters being female, I think it's more a violence issue myself, but I've already covered that ground earlier.

Submitted by Malus on Sat, 03/05/03 - 10:52 AM Permalink

Female leads weren't my sole point, just something that would help.
Violence isnt the only problem either, women can be violent too (and enjoy it), they just tend to seek more justification for it in games while guys go woohoo guts and stuff cool.

Stop pandering to young male nerds who see Lara Croft as some sort of soft porn, I'm sure most women find games constantly portraying there sex as mindless, silicon enhanced, bitches more of a turn off than the fact that they kill bad guys.

Games with female leads like Oni might not have brought women into gaming in droves but games like DOA beach volleyball and XXX BMX probably pushes them out, see my point.

I'm saying valid characters, male and female, decent storylines and respect for women in the games we develop will bring in female gamers, that with women having more input into the development cycle itself, why is it such a boys club anyway?

Submitted by Leviron on Sat, 03/05/03 - 10:09 PM Permalink

Reasonable game play

Romance, an element that should be in there but not as the main theme - no way.
Now, the evil villain/force should be well thought about. The theme should be something the gamer can relate to.

The story must make sense and it should be surprising and not absolutely predicable.

Graphics, realistic and good looking sells better for both gender in my opinion. Final Fantasy does it nicely. Can you imagine how much their sales will drop if they left out the nice pretty graphics and pretty people? In my opinion it would be significant.
I like games with some colour, dark games have their appeal but they get boring. I don't particularly like the hot babe look; you seriously can?t get girls to buy more media material that is damaging to self-image. Magazines say "thin, lean and slim" and then the games scream "big boobs and sexy curves" seriously that?s not good. Female gamers are usually not bimbos, typical dumb blonde or slut.

Music, it shouldn?t be annoying and it should suit the mood or you just pay lots of money to someone for nothing if the gamer turns the sound off anyway.

Game play, it has to load fast and it shouldn't be really hard to suit beginners. You want them to get through the game and buy the second installment. It?s hard to keep your customers.

Female games there are different types.
Tom boys, anime junkies, depressed girls, girls with too much time to kill.

Girls who are/were interested in Barbie generally don?t look at games as a means of entertainment on a long term basis because once they stop playing with the actual dolls they start to pay more attention to themselves in the aspect of how to make herself more attractive to hot/desirable guys. Hence they spend most of their money on fashion related products to keep with the trends of "Barbie culture".

Tom boys, they generally go with that guys do so you don?t have to focus on them as a separate group from guys most of the time.

Anime junkies, they are your Final Fantasy junkies as well because it?s the closest thing. Not specifically final fantasy but any game that has the final fantasy elements.

Depressed girls, they are a mixture of the above. They just want an escape from reality and playing a game just makes them mentally assume the role of the lead character.

Girls with too much time on their hands, these play anything but they have to be fun and time consuming. So go figure with the mix.

I don?t play a lot of games but my sister seems to be very fond of Squaresoft games.

I don't know if checking out forums with gamer feedback help a lot but its probably a good idea to see what they have to say about what they like and don't like because ultimately they are your customers and there is no point in making a product that no one wants. Such a forum as is good because of the variety of people.

I hope I'm not offending any females here or generalising too much. My research was not broad because it was simply done on the people I know which is about 30 girls in IRL and I was reading a lot of forum posts from a variety of forums.

Submitted by Maitrek on Sun, 04/05/03 - 9:26 AM Permalink

quote:Game play, it has to load fast and it shouldn't be really hard to suit beginners.

That's an area that I think the PC games market sucks at *bad*. Too many assumptions about the general skills that gamers have and how they'll work with an interface. If there's one thing that sucks about PC games, it's the level of thought put into the interface for beginning gamers. The gameplay might be easy, but if the player can't quite get the character(s) he/she is playing to do what they want, then it's either too high assumption of skill on the game designers part, or faulty interface design/controller fidelity.

I think this is an area in which game designers aren't pulling their weight/earning their pay cheque.

Submitted by Jacana on Mon, 05/05/03 - 9:01 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Tripitaka

The designer responsible for the romance subplot in Baldur's Gate 2 is a dear friend of mine, who first inspired me to get into the games industry - I really liked it.

I liked the idea of putting that into the game. I just wasn't to keen on the dialog that was given to the male characters. I never did try running through with a male to see some of the female romances. Good idea... just wasnt overly developed for the females out there.

quote:Originally posted by Leviron
Female games there are different types.
Tom boys, anime junkies, depressed girls, girls with too much time to kill.

I think trying to break down the female market makes it even harder to have a "general" appeal to females. I really can't say I am fond of the break down and what each sterotype is.

In general I would fit into the tomboy sterotype. I program, I can be rather crass at times, etc ete. But then I don't fit into the tomboy sterotype.

I think I fit into the female catagory :) Sure I do "guy" things. Things that are not typical of a "female". But that doesn't mean I need to be broken down into a sterotype to have a game made that will target me.

I think that there is a general female mindset that crosses through all the different sterotypes you see. So instead of trying to make the issue more confusing with the breakdown why not start at the top. Once games show they can be developed more with females in mind then break it down to sterotypes (which I dont really believe is correct).

Submitted by Maitrek on Tue, 06/05/03 - 12:43 AM Permalink

I think this is probably an issue that'll only change over a gradual period of time, it really depends on gender identity. In the past it's been essential for a chick to do "chick" things and for a guy to do "guy" things, but it's getting less common for people to be narrowed down into those kind of stereotypes. During the period that games were moulded into what they are, they were essentially a male domain...not many chicks were into computers, and hence their influence on the content production wasn't sufficient to generate a balanced market and we are now in the situation that we are in now.

Sure I'm basically saying that guys and girls are different, and they always will be, but the technology and the concept of computer gaming is appealing to both genders equally, but there are few games out there that gets chicks going. Computer gaming has never been a "blokey" thing, nor has it been a "girlie" thing. In time there will be better understanding from a marketing point of view, between the two genders.There will eventually be more females involved in the industry, and it will eventually lead to more universally appreciated content.

As far as I'm concerned, a game design has to at least appeal to the person who designed it - this is usually a guy - so hence the subject matter is generally male oriented. What is a problem, is when the marketing and production of the game gets too male-oriented. Things like massive boobed game characters and over-emphasis on aggressive problem solving only help to detract the female audience. A guy can still enjoy a game with complex content, with little in the way of big boobs or violence, but at the moment there is a trend towards male oriented gaming - and a girl can enjoy big boobed violence as well - but there is definitely a middle ground that both genders can appreciate. I'm hoping that one day the market starts to realise how boring it is getting and things balance up a little bit more.

After I killed my squillionth demon/bad-dude I pretty much gave up on shooting/maiming/destroying as being the part of the game that makes it fun - what does make a *game* fun is a far more complex issue that everyone has their own idea of. There is more to games than just killing...and the computer game industry has to realise that there are lots of different types of games out there (sports, card, board, dice), not just "computer games" - which seem to focus on the same ideas over and over (be it killing on small,medium or large scale).

I'm not saying that killing/maiming/shooting games are no fun due to the inherit boredom in their subject matter. They are boring due to the familiarity in game design, their goal structure, reward structure and motivation, that I've played over and over and over and over and over again (get my drift?)

Submitted by Leviron on Tue, 06/05/03 - 2:07 AM Permalink

The break down wasn't meant for use in terms of a focus point. Its there to identify who the audience might be. Different types of people are stimulated by different things, if you can identify what stimulates them and make a product that stimulates a wide range of people then you have a successful product.

I know you want to mass market but how is it successful if you don't know the individual needs of different subgroups? Mass marketing is about meeting common needs so you must identify the common needs.

Problems occur when you make a product that is solely aimed at one group. The product then is inflexible and the target audience might not like the product. I'm not saying you should make a product that is directly aimed at a group; I'm saying you need to understand what people want and what might appeal to them.

(edited because of the weird symbol things)

Submitted by Maitrek on Tue, 06/05/03 - 3:41 AM Permalink

quote:I?m not saying you should make a product that is directly aimed at a group; I?m saying you need to understand what people want and what might appeal to them

That's fairly obvious, but often ignored. I'm not sure I agree with the whole mass marketing bit though. I believe that if you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one. Look at any game that has really attempted to cross genres...they never get it quite right...

Submitted by Leviron on Tue, 06/05/03 - 11:38 PM Permalink

Common needs, not every need.
They are common because they exist or occur with almost every group. Although the product must be somehow more aimed at a particular group.

There doesn't seem to be a win-win product anywhere, someone is always there saying how much they hate it.

Submitted by rezn0r on Wed, 07/05/03 - 6:37 AM Permalink

Girls are people too.


Submitted by sho nuff on Tue, 13/05/03 - 9:27 PM Permalink

Female gamers really want to be hot chicks who can pick up hot guys. But instead, they are girls who hang out with dorky boyfriends (us) and have become infected with staying inside, and entertaining themeselves with all the things accustomed to a dork of the new millenium, namely games.

And if it's not a dorky boyfriend, then it would be dorky friends who loved nothing more than rushing home from school, and ripping out the ole D&D to conquer another quest.

Add to this description, characters and plot devices they can relate to, as well as female 3d models who aren't the stereotypical femme fatale, i think we can just about rap this one up.

Submitted by Maitrek on Wed, 14/05/03 - 7:22 AM Permalink

*oh crap* I hope no females read that.