A video game is a game that involves the interaction with the interface of the user to generate visual feedback on the visual device. These computer games had been for a long time played by men due to their nature that involved blood and guts. However, the trends have changed in recent years and video games are being played by both sexes. Amazingly the age bracket for players has expanded from 15 years to 20 up to 25 years to 40 years. The paper examines the changes in the trends of video games and women’s history in video games. It traces the causes of women to the involvement of video games since they had been secluded from the games in the past.
Reasons why women did not play video games as compared to men
The reason why women did not play video games is not that they could not understand the games, but because the games did not understand women. Most of the games were designed mostly to favor men’s attitudes and emotions, therefore women felt left out in the games and could not find them interesting to play as most of them were action games where killing and fighting are major themes. According to Sheri Graner Ray, a video game designer in Sony Online Entertainment and Cartoon Network who is a key tone speaker at the Sex in Video Games argues that most video games are involved with male sexuality and crack the female sexual code. Male domination in video games turns women off from playing these games. (Peter and Jennings, 2002).
To expand the market of video games, the game designers have improved on the nature of the games which fit both sexes. Even though the games display male and female characters in common perspective of heroic, young and strong and also virile and fertile, only the female characters display sexual physical state that human beings are when ready for sex. These physical appearances of sex of partially open mouth with red watery red lips and heavy eyes or the commonly known bedroom eyes make women to be taken as sex objects. In most of these games, women are dressed explicitly and are in sexual poises which turn off an average female gamer. These games can only be attractive to men. Only women in teenage would like to play such games.
Sexualizing the male character does not sort out the issue of women playing video games because female gamers are not concerned with simply exiting visual and flashy surfaces but need to bring in the importance of women’s emotions. Video games need to provide women with a way they can have deeper emotion with the characters.
Many games stimulate adrenaline production through various actions of death, risk action, battles, surprises, and the common survival of the fitness games. Men enjoy the adrenaline-induced feelings than women because adrenaline is addictive in men especially and men get off these feelings easily while women do not get out of the adrenaline-induced feelings the same way as men. Women need games that are not basically adrenaline-driven, but rather the ones that induce feminine feelings of love, relationships security, and trust among other feelings. This can be compared directly with movies where women like watching dramatic, romantic, and nonviolent movies centrally to men who watch action movies of war, battle, killings, rape, and wrestling movies. (John, and Mitchell, 2004).
The Nielsen Active Gamer Study of 2005 which took a survey on 2000 frequent gamers found out that the United States video games market is diversifying with the age group expanding among men to 25-40 years. This is for both online puzzles styles and cell phone mobile games. The gender divide is equally the same between men and women. In 2003 the number of women video gamers increased to 60 percent showing that women are playing video games at an incredibly increasing rate. Multi-users games have attracted women because they offer a communal experience. Younger women also play aggressive games of action which were traditionally thought to be men’s. Over 40 percent of PC gamers are women i.e. according to ESRB. Such video games are mainly women for example the social networks such as Miss Video Game and the Guild Cafe which has a high percentage of women gamers. The traditional male games have become cross-gendered games which have increased the number of women playing video games. (John, and Mitchell, 2004).
The benefits accrued to video games also encourage women to play video games even if they enhance the production of adrenaline. Playing action video games enhances visual-motor skills for the gamer. The gamers are resistant to destruction, sensitive to information than the nonplayers. An action game can enhance the acquisition of these abilities as they involve, challenges to diversify attention to various locations and not games that are simple and require concentration on one object. The playing of video games has no associated negative effects on the gamer and therefore parents do allow their children to play these games even at home on their PCs.
In the United Kingdom a study carried out on gamers showed women in the UK have increasingly played video games than before. Video game makers need to change because women like playing video games as much as men do. Considering their large population, the advancement in technology has to focus on their products to be more interesting to women as women are also interested in the changes in the modern technology and entertainment industry.
The spending power in the United Kingdom and the United States is the reason for women video gamers. Women in the UK make up a quarter of the video gamers in comparison to 39 percent in the United States and 69 percent in South Korea. In the UK, the typical women gamer is between age 30 to 35 years old and they play for around seven hours in a week which cost around one hundred and seventy pounds a year on games according to the research by Ms. Krotoski. (John, and Mitchell, 2004).
Down the street, the games displayed may seem to be for men as they have been labeled with action titles and pictures of war fights and men’s masculinity. The games are designed to fit the men’s desires and even if women are included in the game, they are portrayed in a way to fulfill these desires but not the way they would like to be. Such games are not commonly played by women. Some games however are appealing to both sexes, for example, the Sims, the Legend of Zelda, and the prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
The prince of Persia is appealing to both sexes because of the storyline and character which have depth. Women do not like the idea of killing and hurting others and for this reason, these types of games may not be interesting for them to play. In her research, Ms. Krotoski interviewed a girl who was playing a game that involved killing the opponent and removing their heart. The girl played the game for a few days and managed to remove the heart of the opponent once. She did not seem to like it she got bored and could not proceed to the next level. For men, they play these games tirelessly wanting to reach higher levels to show their heroism and conquer the game. (John, and Mitchell, 2004).
Women have limited leisure time as compared to men and this influences them on the type of game to play. Women, therefore, prefer to play games that are easy to pick up and play as well as games that are easy to master content due to time limitations. Men have a lot of time for their leisure and have fewer responsibilities as compared to women. They can therefore spend a lot of time playing complicated games that have difficult control which require a lot of time to learn and master. Men spend a lot on games as compared to women due to their financial power that is regularly higher than that of women.
The early exposure of children to video games has also a great effect in determining their future interest in adult video games. Most people who play video games at their adult age have had prior experience in children’s video games. It is more likely to affect women as girls at a younger age do not involve themselves in video games like the boys. The number of women gamers can however rise due to influence by their boyfriends or partners.
Advanced technology offers new ways for women to play video games by avoiding complicated controls. There are different ways of playing video games such as the Sony’s Eye Toy, which is an interactive camera that allows the gamer to control action on the screen by movement only. This encourages women in playing video games as the control of the game is easier and does not require mastery.
The internet and mobile phone technology opened new avenues for women to play games. Women form the largest population of casual gamers in this line for games like Bejewelled online. The research in the UK showed that women like a lot of things enjoyed by men. The games are seemingly changing from the ones that require one to be hardcore or nothing, to games that one feels respectful and feels fun for that. (Barrie, 1998) These changes in video games by the game makers are positively increasing the interest of women in gaming. The games that women play range from fantasies to brain-cracking games. These games include Role-playing video games for example the Final Fantasy, Easy to pick up driving Sims like the Collin MacRae Rally, the Narrative adventures like the Legend of Zelda, Life Simulations for example the Sims, and the quick-fire arcade puzzlers Tetris. (Jagodzinski and Brigitte, 2001).
In Japan, women have overtaken men counterparts in video gaming. Women are becoming the biggest users of Nintendo’s Wii and DS machines in Japan and the company has plans to transform the video game industry. The surprise popularity of the games market for this game came within a year on the launch of Nintendo’s popular Wii console which was unveiled in Tokyo, Japan by Satoru Iwata, the company’s president.
If these changes in in-game trends for women affect the globe, it could force a full change of business model for most of the world’s largest games makers. Many companies will be forced to make dramatic alterations to both their software development plans and advertising strategies. Nintendo has pitched its Christmas offerings for 2008 at what is going to be a predominantly female audience. Wii Fit uses an innovative floor-based sensor in registering body movement and takes the players through a daily regimen of yoga, balancing exercises, and other fat-fighting activities which is a woman thing that will attract a large number of women.
Nintendo Wii commencement of a fitness game ”Wii Fit” in the US that targeted women has scooped a large number of women who play the game for fitness. The game has turned into a smash due to its motion-sensing controller as well as simplicity in learning. Women are now flocking in the game more than men as they like to keep fit off from the fields. Women are known to have several health problems related to physical fitness and this is the major reason why they are more into Wii Fit. Although there has been other fitness software before, the game has taken the best in the market as it incorporates both leisure and health exercises.
Just like any other media, video games have raised a lot of controversy and censorship because of the depiction of the sexual themes, violence, and advergaming that involve advertising in the games. This advergaming includes the consumption of alcohol, propaganda, and profanity in the adverts that are harmful to gamers especially teenagers. These games have therefore been criticized by diverse politicians, religious leaders, and parents for their vulnerability to immorality in society.
The addition of video games and violent behavior is common in gamers. Regular women gamers are likely to have sex more frequently than nongamers. In the United Kingdom, private research by Gametart, a video game rental company showed that women who are video gamers have sex an average of 4.6 times in a week while nongamers have 3.2 times in a week. This is not proven yet and there is room for more research about this issue.
Video gamers have a positive impact on education and those people who are gamers especially women develop more skills about the changes in technology than nongamers. If learning in school can be incorporated with games, learning can be simple and interesting to children especially girls who fear studying sciences and technology.
The makers of video games have taken interest in the making of games that fit women’s desires and lifestyles. The Japanese video makers are the leading in the world marketing of women’s games and have made it a success. For women in other places to be able to get into video games, the designers of the games should focus on the current trend of diversifying the games to fit across the gender divide in their state.
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