It may seem that girl gamers are the minority in the world of video games, but where does that perception come from? According to Adam Ruins Everything, it may be due to a marketing decision. Back in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the console and its games were specifically marketed to boys, instead of boys and girls.
The numbers involved in boys versus girls when it comes to who’s playing today’s games was previously reported by the Inquisitr. There are more girls playing games than many realize.
The common misconception is that girls just don’t play games, and that could be linked to a point in gaming history when Nintendo was bringing it all back. In a recent episode of CollegeHumor, a segment of TruTV‘s Adam Ruins Everything explained exactly what happened. Of course, it also threw in some amusing anecdotes like a boy throwing a fit when he discovered his sister was one of the elusive girl gamers.
After the big video game crash of 1983, for which games like E.T. and a plethora of horrible titles were blamed, Nintendo had brought the hobby back. However, after the crash, the NES had to be marketed as a toy and most retail stores had split the toy department into boys and girls. On the boys’ side were G.I. Joe and Laser Tag, while on the girls’ side were mostly Barbie and My Little Pony. Nintendo had to make a choice, and decided to sell it as a toy for boys.
It had been generally publicly unacceptable for girls to be into war games, racing games or beating up thugs on the streets games, which were the big genres of the eight-bit era. To be a girl gamer, you had to settle for what was marketed toward boys or wait until the release of the Game Boy, which brought about the grandfather of “casual” games to the mainstream, Tetris.
Tetris is still considered one of the greatest and most influential games ever made, and it spawned a genre that anyone of any gender or age could feel comfortable playing. The “casual” genre eventually spread to social networking sites like Facebook and mobile apps. Girl gamers still played games like Halo and GTA but many remained under the radar, often remaining anonymous due to harassment like in the video above.
Now, there is a resurgence in the gender divide with Japanese publishers being pressured to make their games less “sexy” for a western release and with the controversy surrounding GamerGate. Japanese titles usually have characters much less “dressed” than those in North America, and titles like Dead or Alive often push what’s culturally acceptable. The problem with virtual breasts and crotches, as Destructoid says, is that showing too much could raise the game’s rating and shrink its potential audience, and therefore reduce profit.
Game ratings vary by region. Australia has even stricter standards for sex and nudity than the U.S. or Europe.
It’s possible girl gamers may actually outnumber the boys, but that won’t stop larger developers from focusing on what the male demographic wants.
[Image via Syda Productions/Shutterstock]