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Can I make a significant difference by changing the types of games that are available? Are there any generic features that I can add to games, which will help make them more attractive to casual female gamers?

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closed as too broad by Josh Petrie Aug 13 at 18:40

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I am not a woman gamer, but one thing you should definitely try is removing things which would tend to drive them away. Are there games that use a lot of cleavage or exploitative visuals? Does your advertising or the game copy use gendered language ("are you man enough")? Do your games tend to feature male main characters, with women as props or victims? Are your community features (forums and chat rooms) policed for sexist, antisocial, and homophobic content? All these are things that I often hear discussed as reasons why women are driven away from communities.

Things that you shouldn't do in an attempt to attract women: add lots of pink or games about shopping and fashion. While these games may appeal to some girls and women, they can often come across as pandering or disingenuous. Also, avoid having a ghetto category like "games for girls."

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I don't think cleavage would necessarily "drive girls away". I'd focus more on play and the actual elements of play of the game -- girl gamers I personally know tend to like fantasy games like Diablo II and not like military simulation games like BF3. –  bobobobo Oct 1 '12 at 22:08
    
I would argue that exploitive visuals won't turn off a gender as they will just turn off a personality type. –  bobobobo Oct 1 '12 at 22:16
    
Display of overt sex appeal (e.g. lots of cleavage) is often described as appealing to the "male gaze." While cleavage itself might not drive away women, it can be a signal that the game is designed for (hetero) men, not women. Note that discussions of women in games often distinguish between pretty, stylish outfits and skimpy, tacky outfits: one is attractive to all orientations, one only to folks who like looking at breasts. Regarding the military simulation games? The fact that they typically require playing as a macho dude is probably also a factor. –  Gregory Avery-Weir Oct 2 '12 at 3:16
    
Well not really -- I think the girl I'm thinking of just hates military sim, realistic weapons, blood spatter -- the whole feel of serious combat seems to be what turns her off. –  bobobobo Oct 2 '12 at 3:23
    
I just think you're missing the forest (gameplay, themes) for the trees (signs that designers wrote a chauvinistic game that would turn women off -- ie skimpy clothes, gendered language). Even Terra in FF6 wore a bikini. The rogue in Diablo is another example of a "sexy female" that, although it's unrealistic to enter battle showing that much skin, I wouldn't say that would be what would turn the female gamers away. –  bobobobo Oct 2 '12 at 4:20

I spend a lot of time playing games and personally I don't find myself off-put by male orientated games that use huge breasted victimized ladies and what not, in fact I have no problems with most of the issues Gregory Weir raised. Although I do think the points about community attitude and no pink/games4girls are valuable.

I think as a whole woman are looking for different features, Customization is a huge favourite for example. It's a stereotype because it's true. I like to make my character or gameplay personal to me, that's a huge factor in keeping me interested and coming back for more. It doesn't need to mean i want more pretty coloured wizard hats, i just want to be involved with the role i'm playing in a game. I want to be able to define myself so that i feel that my presence there is worth something.

Another thing is that i like to feel emotionally involved. This is mostly through writing, for example if there is an npc or an instructional character I prefer some thought to have gone into their script so they don't just feel like another game mechanic. Or if a game has a "world" i want to feel that i have some place in it. Alternatively this aspect can be covered by a good community for some people.

It's true i might just be encouraging distinction between men and woman here when the industry is trying to find the happy medium, but i think i'm just being realistic. You can't ignore the fact that what ladies look for is very different, it a tough balance to strike, we don't want to be playing a whole different game from the blokes, we want to be able to play the same game our own way. And we wan't more substance to the game because hack and slash (/other generic gameplay) just can't satisfy us alone like it can with a lot of young men.

EDIT

A couple of years down the line, noticed this was up voted and I'm not sure my anecdotal response holds much merit. Some of the points are still valuable if you hadn't already considered them, but you should really take any comment on what girls prefer in games with the knowledge that single opinions might not hold up. Even the loudest consensus might not represent the majority of your potential female users. Empirical studies are probably the best way to research this problem if necessary.

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I'm a female gamer. I can't really tell you what you could do to attract me to a game, but I guess you're free to ask me any questions about my gaming habits.

I can tell you why I like particular games or maybe you can kind of gather from the games I play, what attracts me to them.

When it comes to computer games I play, or have played:

  • Guild Wars (a loong time ago)
  • World of Warcraft (Mipey's right about the vanity pets.)
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Command & Conquer (pre-EA, again a long time ago.)
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • The Sims
  • Sim City (I liked 3000 the most)
  • Diablo 2
  • Portal
  • TF2
  • Fortress Forever
  • Zelda (pretty much all of them, but Ocarina's my favorite)

One thing I find really appealing is having a nice balance of male/female playable characters. In a LOT of games, seriously a TON if there is a female character, there's only one. So I mean, guys can pick from a number of avatars and female players get one character to choose from. That's one thing I liked about WoW, even number of male/female characters, however one thing I don't like about WoW is the, "Oh, you're a girl and you play WoW? You must be ugly!" mentality.

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More than on language and visuals, it depends on the very nature of your game. Does it encourage aggressive gameplay (think any FPS)? Then you'll attract more males than females. Does it appeal to the caring personality, such as gardening and management games (think Sims)? Then you'll attract more females.

Males tend to be more competitive, females tend to be more collaborative. If you include both gameplay aspects, you'll see more balanced ratio between men and women. An example is World of Warcraft, which is highly competitive environment (think DPS, PvP), however it also has much of leeway for collaboration (think tank, healer, guilds).

You can also consider adding player-owned housing, gardens etc. that feature growth in return for care (find items). Vanity items also are a good way to appeal to the "other" side, such as non-combat pets, collectibles etc.

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This is exactly the kind of gender-role-boxing we don't need more of. –  user744 Jan 29 '11 at 12:18
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Being downvoted for truth? Ouch. @Joe Wreschnig: pretending that we're all completely equal won't do us any good, because gender differences are the basis for social relations. Vent your frustrations elsewhere - this question & answer is about adjusting gender ratio in a game, not tooting the gender equality trumpet. It is up to everyone whether they want to play a game or not; I'm just stating that they may be attracted more by certain features than the other gender. Balancing these features = balancing gender ratio, much like WoW. All in all, it is about personality, not gender. –  Mipey Jan 30 '11 at 10:09
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@Joe Wrescnig: Now you're being ridiculous. –  Mipey Jan 30 '11 at 11:50
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@Mipey: No more ridiculous than your original post. Yes, adding a gardening game might temporarily result in a few more women in your community. It also forces a particular design on you, and may not be congruent with the kinds of games already in your community. If we want to attract female gamers rather than segregate them, we need to address the underlying issues - gendered language and iconography, female objectification, explicit and implicit sexism in the community. Real progress will happen when we start making competitive and aggressive games, without sexism. –  user744 Jan 30 '11 at 12:00
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Gendered language and iconography have NOTHING to do with gameplay. Most of women actually don't care about the iconography, unlike your belief. You want to attract men and women alike to your game? Add gameplay features that appeal to their personalities. That is all. Simple as that. –  Mipey Jan 30 '11 at 14:19

Can I make a significant difference by changing the types of games that are available?

Absolutely. Type and setting/story. I'm pretty sure most players of Murder, She Wrote are female. I know for a fact that my 60+ year old mother-in-law, who was quite anti-gaming before, played it through at least twice :)

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