Who gets to be a gamer?
Ella Hagi, 4 February 2021
Hi. I’m Ella, I’m 31 and I’m pretty much a case study on why the gaming industry loses out when it ignores women. I’ll expand:
I like doing yoga, watching medical dramas and drinking negronis in pretentious bars. You’d think, I couldn’t possibly be a gamer. Right? I vaguely remember an 8-bit game on my grandpa’s Windows 95, and there was Super Mario 64 on one particularly boring New Year’s Eve when I was about 12 but otherwise... nothing. Just like you thought, not a gamer.
Only, it turns out that I actually am a gamer; one that can easily rack up a hundred hours in her first month in possession of a console. It’s just that the image of gaming never spoke to me, so I never knew it could be for me.
When I scroll through social media, I see ads aimed at me all the time. Even though I engage with gaming content online, watch Twitch and Google playthroughs, the ads I get are mostly for CBD drinks. Honestly, there’s an absolutely shocking number of sparkling CBD drinks coming for me, yet not a single gaming company seems to have me as its target audience. I’ll let you take a wild guess what I spend more on. Hint: it’s not the CBD drinks.
What’s truly remarkable here is that, as a woman, I’m not an outlier. I’m just overlooked. Adult women make up a bigger portion (33%) of gamers than boys under 18 do (17%)*, yet the image of a gamer is still that of a teenage boy with a penchant for Monster. What about us negroni loving women? Where’s the content for me? Why am I not in your paid media strategy?
I clocked nearly 60 hours on Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and spent over a hundred on The Witcher 3, the first game I played as an adult. Gaming has now decidedly crept onto my list of likes, and not even in a particularly casual capacity, but it’s hardly a personality trait for me.
Of course, this is where gaming marketing misses a trick: it’s targeted at people who live and breathe gaming but neglects those who just enjoy it. It makes even less of an effort with people who haven’t played at all. So how many others like me still think of gaming as something for teenagers? Or put differently: how much revenue are gaming companies missing out on by ignoring potential customers?
We are many; the people who like gaming enough to make space for it in our monthly budgets without labelling ourselves as gamers. I suspect there are at least as many who would like it if they only knew to try it. While the gaming industry is missing out on new opportunities, we’re missing out on gaming. Surely, there must be a better way.