Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Girls in Games: setting the record straight

The constant media reports that women are just as likely to be gamers is bewildering to any genuine gamer. Where are they all? The truth is that it is nothing more than the usual media spinning the facts into a seriously distorted fiction. Consider this summary of last year's NPD survey:
PC gamers are just as likely to be men as they are women, with 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively. They tend to be older, with an average age of 38 years, and affluent, with an average household income of $69k. Gender differences become apparent by type of gamer: Heavy Core and Light Core are comprised mainly of men while Casual PC gamers are overwhelmingly female.
Talk about burying the lead! Casual PC gamers are not, and have never been, considered "gamers". Yes, they play games. So does Grandma and her bridge club. They're not gamers either.

The summary by The Escapist was more precise:
Core Gamers Mostly Male, Casual Gamers Mostly Female, Says NPD

Market research firm the NPD Group (who you may know as the guys who provide sales numbers for games every month) has conducted a large-scale survey of American PC gamers, and come up with some interesting observations. The 6,225 members survey were split into three groups - Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual. Heavy Core gamers play "core" games for five or more hours per week, while Light Core gamers still enjoy core games, but do so for less than five hours a week, and Casual gamers only play non-core games. The survey found that the majority of gamers in the two "core" groups were male, while the casual group was "overwhelmingly female."

Just FYI, In order to qualify as a core gamer for the survey, respondents had to currently play Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games on a PC/Mac.

The largest segment is Casual at 56 percent, with Light Core at 24 percent, and Heavy Core at 20 percent. Though Heavy Core is the smallest segment, they spend a significantly higher number of hours gaming in an average week, and have spent roughly twice as much money in the past 3 months on physical or digital games for the computer than Casual PC gamers. Of all the participants surveyed, 51% were male and 49% were female.
Unfortunately, no actual breakdown by sex was provided, but we can work it out, depending upon what percentage you reasonably consider to be "overwhelming". I'll try 90 percent, although I suspect it might actually be higher.

0.56 x 0.9 = .504. Hmm, that won't work, because 50.4 percent is higher than the 49 percent female respondents reported. Perhaps Literally Wu was surveyed? Let's back "overwhelming" down to 85 percent. 0.56 x 0.85 is 0.476, which is at least statistically possible.

That means that if only 15 percent of casual gamers are male, the MAXIMUM number of Heavy Core female gamers are 0.62 percent of the population. .014 x .44 = 0.00616.

39 comments:

2870b918-77c0-11e3-b9bd-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Casual PC gamers are not, and have never been, considered "gamers".

I think we're arguing semantics here. Casual gamers aren't considered "gamers" by core gamers. But to someone who only uses their cellphone to talk, text and send selfies, the girl who plays Candy Crush on it for hours at a time is indeed a gamer.

littl3x said...

This has been my experience as a woman who likes to play games. I guess I would qualify as a light core gamer. Right now I'm playing through FFIII on my ds, spending about an hour or two a night on it. Most girls I know don't even play a light Role playing/sim like Harvest Moon. It's sad but true.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

Consider this: you are a hardcore gamer if you put together a high performance PC for the sole purpose of supporting the games you play.

Casual gamers generally use mobile devices to play their games, which are not high end PCs.

This is an easy distinction to make.

b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 said...

I don't know about those % for hardcore based on 5+ hours. Pretty much everybody that plays wow plays at least 5+ hours a week, and I have no idea what the balance is now since I haven't played in a good long time, but I recall it being somewhere around 16% female. Which means that something like FPS would need somewhere around 1 in 10,000 female in order to balance that out.

Now I haven't been in FPS in over a decade, but back then my experience was it was about 1 in 20-30 were women. Our local ACM ran a quake tourney back then and we would get about 300-400 entrants from all over the state between 10-25 were girls each years, most not local to the university.

D. Lane said...

Consider this: you are a hardcore gamer if you put together a high performance PC for the sole purpose of supporting the games you play.

Poor definition. Assembling hardware just to play games does not make one "hardcore." That's like saying anyone who owns a 911 or a 458 is a race car driver...because high performance.

What separates hardcore gamers from causals is time investment and focus on game mastery. Using those metrics, I'd say the survey does not actually represent the hardcore segment at all. Even so, the numbers seem about right as far as gender is concerned. Anyone who would challenge them need only log in to a multiplayer lobby or step into a GameStop.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

Poor definition. Assembling hardware just to play games does not make one "hardcore." That's like saying anyone who owns a 911 or a 458 is a race car driver...because high performance.

Poor analogy. A race car driver has to actually enter a race.

Most people do not get high end PCs for purposes of casual Internet use. They get them in order to play high performance games.

Using time is not a reliable factor either. Casual gamers could be playing Candy Crush for 20+ hours a week as well. Candy Crush players are not hardcore gamers.

tweell said...

Women players in WoW are overwhelmingly wives/girlfriends of players, and are gone when the relationship is. I have a hard time classifying those as core gamers, and I suspect Vox does as well. Then take out the drama queens, flirters and chatterboxes (my sister played WoW, but really used it to chat with friends and family). What's left would be 1-2% at most. They exist, but are extremely rare.

Cataline Sergius said...

PC gamers are just as likely to be men as they are women, with 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Numbers like this always get tortured so badly that they will confess to anything.

I've seen this so many times in my life. Comic books, role playing games, fantasy football, even the local Stopless Topless.

Anyplace men gather to fly from the scent of estrogen. And sooner or later I am reading about how women are moving into them. Invariably to the tune of about 50%. This despite the fact that any casual observation puts the actual number down around 2%.

jimmy-jimbo said...

"I think we're arguing semantics here"

No, we're defining the market. If you wish to define a casual gamer as gamer as well, it dilutes the meaning and we are now going call gamers "hard core gamers". This doesn't work. People know what gamer means.

Profit said...

Gamer vs. Casual is far easier to understand than they make it. This is just another example of Levels of Play and dedication. Comparing a Hardcore Gamer to a Casual is like comparing a few Grannies at the retirement-home playing pinochle to Stu Ungar or Doyle Brunson, they just aren't the same.

D. Lane said...

Poor analogy. A race car driver has to actually enter a race.

A lot of people track 911s and participate in amateur competitions for fun. They are, however, enthusiasts. Legitimate race car drivers are focused primarily on achieving race driving mastery, which requires a much more significant time investment than merely showing up for a race or a day at the track.

Most people do not get high end PCs for purposes of casual Internet use. They get them in order to play high performance games.

Exactly: they purchase performance hardware so they can move the graphics sliders all the way to the right. This does not make someone hardcore, it makes them either a casual (or an enthusiast) with a large budget.

Contrastingly, somebody who plays Candy Crush for 20+ hours a week with the intent of achieving the highest score on the CC leaderboards is very much hardcore, as they are gunning for mastery and making the necessary time investment to achieve such.

If we use your logic, the following is true:

1. Murphy spends 2,000hrs achieving the highest ever Tetris score.

2. Jack spends $5,000 on a high-end PC to play Farcry 4 on max settings at launch.

3. Farcry 4 requires better hardware than Tetris.

4. Therefore, Jack is hardcore and Murphy is not.

You and the rest of the PC Master Race Squad might buy that nonsense, but I doubt you will sell most people on this blog or VP on that idea.

MidKnight said...

In our (board) gaming group, roughly a third are ladies.

Of those, all of them are willing to play Cataan, sentinels of the multiverse, Suburbia, Power Grid, etc. - euros and such.

Of them, roughly 2/3 are willing to play Descent, Level 7, etc... tactical semi-RPG, semi-miniature boardgames (only one regularly), and one other will play Malifaux or western-based miniatures tabletop games with her husband. Sometimes.

Of all of those - ONE will play Pathfinder or other RPG's (one other one tried)

None play Battlelore, command and colors, Memoir, ASL, or the AH wargames.

D. Lane said...

In our (board) gaming group, roughly a third are ladies.

I'd be interested to see the difference in distribution between tabletop games and video games. I observed the same 1/3 split when I played D&D at a local game shop a few years back.

cailcorishev said...

I'd bet that a lot of the girls playing Candy Crush and Farmville on their phones all day are spending quite a bit on in-game bonuses and extra moves. And of course they spend plenty on their fancy smart phones and data packages so they can play that much.

But all that money goes to Apple, cell providers, and a few social game companies. Very little goes to actual developers, who are they ones they're insisting should be impressed by these numbers and responding with more girl-friendly games. If you're a game developer, unless your game is specifically social and FB/phone based, your target audience of people who will actually spend money on your game is still overwhelmingly male.

pdwalker said...

I think this nicely shows the difference between male and female gamers:

http://cheezburger.com/8358095616?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+failblog+%28The+FAIL+Blog+-+Fail+Pictures+%26+Videos+at+Failblog.ORG%29

peoplegrowing said...

With regards to the argument about "who counts as a gamer" and especially whether "casual gamers" are relevant it seems to me the answer ought to be an easy and obvious "no," because Gamergate was initially and principally about journalist ethics in gaming - reviews and such. And I would think casual players, like your candy crush/Farmville types, aren't much concerned by game journalism and whether or not it is ethical.

Discussing the breakdown of gamers by gender is just a reframe. Pointing out that most "female gamers" are interchangeable with "casual gamers" helps us to get back to the topic, but debating their relevance allows us to be sucked into the reframe. Casual gamers are not the primary participants in gamergate, and the primary participants are "hard core" gamers - who are still overwhelmingly male. Is that not so?

pjblue said...

Regrettably when the number of female gamers get up to a certain percentage, they will start complaining that the games make them "feeeel baaad" when they lose a game and demand all games are re-written make them feel happy.

JCclimber said...

do candy crushers and farmville addicts buy books on strategy for their games, spend hours trying to optimize their hardware (*snort*), buy new equipment - physical, not add-ons in the game, to improve their ability to make faster moves?

Do they? Do they go to Candy Crush gaming conventions to play against other players? Do they actively seek out other candy crushers to have tournaments and talk trash? Do they hole up for hours at a time and build their schedules and social calendars around their game?

Then I'd consider them to be gamers. Otherwise, no.

JCclimber said...

Also, math is sexisss. someone had to say it.

PhantomZodak said...

they love including girls who play farmville, kim kardashian & candy crush as "gamers." & they just spread the woozle all over the internet so if you google for it, you have to wade through pages of woozle before you find hard facts: http://zpatriarchy.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-sorry-excuse-for-article-about-geek.html

Brad Andrews said...

A solid argument for a middle level can be made. I have played some of the social games, but they didn't hold my attention for long. I do not play many FPS games since I am not that good at them, though I have played a couple of MMO-style games. I may spend a lot of time at them, especially since other alternatives are not that compelling to me, but I am definitely not hard core.

I have a decent computer, but that is because I always buy close to the fastest when I upgrade so it will last longer, not because I want to run FarCry X on the top settings. I have not even kept up playing Civ and AOE remakes, though they would be of more interest to me than any FPS.

I do dislike games that kill me repeatedly for no point. I want to enjoy my time, not produce the top score on whatever game. That makes me definitely not a hard core gamer, but does not lower me to the definition of casual gamer being cast about here.

Conscientia Republicae said...

I'm a hard core gamer then. Reading NPD's definition I can definitely say I'm in there, and I've been playing games my whole life.

Brad Andrews said...

I should note that I like games that let me build over time, which is why even Farmville or some MMOs are of interest. I did try Candy Crush for a while, but gave up when the tiles that end the game early started to drop and it was no longer a luck/logic puzzle (to me at least). I never spent a penny on it, so I am definitely not their target market.

Doom said...

Girls, women, same difference, don't even make good casual gamers. If it gets too hard, they quit. And they aren't very good. I wouldn't even call them casual gamers, actually. I'm a casual gamer, because I don't get all the trophies in all PS 3 games. Even the games I like, if I think the trophy is fubar or I don't like the ethics of it. Females are simply bored when no one calls or texts, their nails need to dry, or... such. Not even casual gamers.

Mindstorm said...

Well, Doom, my first FPS was named Doom too (without numbers after the name). And this is what older PC gamers think about trophies and the whole idea of cross-platform games:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1ZtBCpo0eU

Doom said...

Mindstorm,

I don't care what "real gamers" think. I have been playing games since even before Doom. Have you even heard of alpha-numeric games? Hell, my handle, and email, are based on the game of which you speak. I know it wasn't even the first of it's type, do you? When you look down your nose at some one, make sure your height advantage isn't based on your opponent being seated while you stand. Moron.

I, myself, enjoy trophies, as I wish and prefer. An added challenge, something to spread the cost of the game and system, sometimes just more involvement with a game I enjoyed but have, otherwise, ultimately crushed. I only have ps 3 because I don't want to afford a gaming machine at the moment. Real preps are taking precedent, in case that was your next childish attempt at a kneecap.

1sexistpig2another said...

Just FYI, In order to qualify as a core gamer for the survey, respondents had to currently play Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games on a PC/Mac.

Does angry birds count?

1sexistpig2another said...

I think we're arguing semantics here. Casual gamers aren't considered "gamers" by core gamers. But to someone who only uses their cellphone to talk, text and send selfies, the girl who plays Candy Crush on it for hours at a time is indeed a gamer.

I'm not a gamer. I don't even like board games. Still, I've never thought of a chronic Candy Crush or Farm Ville player as a gamer. Nobody I know does either. I know, I know, it's purely anecdotal.

1sexistpig2another said...

Consider this: you are a hardcore gamer if you put together a high performance PC for the sole purpose of supporting the games you play.

This is more or less how I think of it, only I would amend it to having access to such a machine on a regular basis.

1sexistpig2another said...

Also, math is sexisss. someone had to say it.

I'm sexisss too, or so I've been told repeatedly.

Mindstorm said...

Hahahaha. A bit touchy, aren't we? As an added bonus, the first FPS ever wasn't Wolfenstein 3D. So? The very first game that I have played was called Dungeon Master, if the name tells you anything. Could you explain what is an 'alpha-numeric game'? A Rogue-like such as Nethack or Angband? Or a text-based adventure? Some are older than me and probably you as well.

It was you that read 'older PC gamers' as the only 'real gamers', not me. I'm not into e-peen comparisons. It's certain developer practices and conventions that seeped down from consoles (like excessive hand-holding and railroading the player) that I'm against.

Dexter said...

Could you explain what is an 'alpha-numeric game'?

This.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_(text_game)

I played it back in the 1970s.

When it printed your turn on a roll of yellow paper, not a screen.

Doom said...

Mindstorm,

As to what old games I used to play were, or are currently, called... well... hell... I've been dead three times and have a very bad heart. Memory sucks. How about this... I have had some access to computers, and been playing them on pc's, since 87' or 88', buying my first machine in 89', I believe. An XT, or XT plus, or some crap. Most of my personal machines have been in the $3,500 range.

As to "It's certain developer practices and conventions that seeped down from consoles (like excessive hand-holding and railroading the player) that I'm against. " Exactly. If I think it was already becoming a problem before consoles, or modern consoles. I've been railing on that since my suspicion that Duke Nukem installments were being delayed for being sexist, or other crap. I could be wrong, on specifics. But I have watched as games have been pussified, or over control of player actions have been installed through "command", or they have been being dumbed down, or all of it, and more. Bah!

Myles said...

"So does Grandma and her bridge club. They're not gamers either."

Not "hard core"? Let me tell you about "hard core." You ever see a 76 year old woman in a wheelchair rip the pacemaker out of a man and show it to him before he died because he was dealing from the bottom of the deck?

You ever have the smell of blood stuck under your nails for weeks because you held that poor bingo caller as he died in your arms, crying for his mother? That bingo hall was a blood bath.

You think your Call of Duty and Starcraft stack up to geriatric hell? You don't know hard core gamers.

Mindstorm said...

@Doom
I wonder how bad your memory is. For example, does this video ring a bell:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A31iCkdRvtw
Happy memories...

Crunching the numbers said...

I don't follow the calculations in the last paragraph. It seems that the largest possible percentage of female heavy core gamers out of the TOTAL population is 1.4%, which we would get with the following distribution, assuming the 85% majority of females within casual gamers (the following table expresses percentages of the whole population, thus summing to 100%):

Male heavy: 18.6% Female heavy: 1.4%
Male light: 24% Female light: 0%
Male casual: 8.4% Female casual: 47.6%

This means that at most,

female heavy gamers could be 1.4% of the total gaming population, or

(1.4% female heavy gamers)/(20% heavy gamers) = 7% of heavy gamers could be female, or

(1.4% female heavy gamers)/(20% heavy gamers + 24% light gamers) = 3.18% of core gamers could be heavy female gamers, or

(1/4% female heavy gamers)/(49% female gamers) = 2.86% of women are heavy core gamers.

Vox seems to be MULTIPLYING the 1.4% figure by the 44% figure of core gamers (instead of dividing, as I did in the second item), which I do not understand.

SirHamster said...

Vox seems to be MULTIPLYING the 1.4% figure by the 44% figure of core gamers (instead of dividing, as I did in the second item), which I do not understand.

Looks like the wrong number was used.

1.4% is (female core gamers/ total population), while 44% is (core gamers/total population), so the .00616 number has a unit of (female core gamers * core gamers) / (total population ^ 2).

To get (female heavy core gamers/ total population), 1.4% should have been multiplied by 20/44 = 45.45% (female heavy core gamers / female core gamers).

Bob said...

Oh they definitely exist. I'm dating one right now.

However the "real" gamer girls usually pose as men online, to save getting the abuse, unwanted attention and everything that they end up with. I don't blame them, and heck, it's better when they're just there to play and enjoy the games, rather than "hai boyyyyz, gamur gurrrl here. Who wants to help me?".

There's obviously no doubt though that the majority are casual and play an hour or two of Candy Crush on their phones when bored etc. It's just a silly feminist rebranding exercise to try and kill the "white & male" stereotype of a gamer.

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