If you have a Facebook account, you are sure to see the million updates a day about events of people playing FarmVille, Mafia Wars and so on. The question is, have you ever noticed the gender of those that are playing those games? If your activity stream is anything like mine, it seems to tend towards females, and it isn’t because I have a predominant number of females amongst my friends. So why is it that seems to be mainly women that are playing these games? Is it a fluke, or is there actually something there?
PopCap Games recently commissioned a study to be conducted by Information Solutions Group between Jan. 7th and 12th of this year and received 1,202 respondents. Of those that filled out the survey, 800 (67%) were from the US, while 402 (33%) were from the UK, resulting in a margin of era of 2.5%. So, with that out of the way, what did the survey have to say? Women, which are a pretty large rarity in online console gaming, seem to really like games with a social aspect, and it’s even more likely to find them playing if they’re married.
In the full study (PDF link), 54% of the U.S. respondents were female, and 58% of the U.K. people in the study were also. The top age ranges for each country was 50 – 59 in the U.S. and 30 – 39 in the UK, making the average overall age 43, but the average age by country was 48 for the U.S. and 38 for the U.K..
While all of this is interesting, it doesn’t really tell us anything about why women are so much more prevalent in the social gaming world than they are in any other form of online gaming. Possibly one of the most interesting statistics in the study has to be how marital status and presence of children in the marriage seems to impact the probability of who is playing the games.
The overall study is actually quite fascinating, and tells you quite a bit about the gaming culture at large, but it does seem to be missing the key element of asking people why they game. If were to hazard a guess, we would have to go with the matter of fact that women are more social creatures than men.
Social gaming does put a heavy emphasis on the “social” part of its name. Just look at all the “call for help” messages you see in your newsfeed from people playing FarmVille. There is also the fact I have been a member of Pogo.com for years, a site that was social gaming before there was even a name for it, and as I think back over the years I have played games there, it has almost always been women I run into the most, and a good chunk of those talking about issues related to their marriages and their children.
While the study did show nearly a quarter of those who filled out the survey went online with console games, lets face the fact that places such as Xbox Live are not exactly the most female friendly environments. One can regularly hear racial slurs, homosexual epitaphs, locker room humor and so on; or they can go on social games which have filtered chat and a bit more control over their gaming experience.
If you were just looking for a way to kill a few minutes down time while staying home with the kids, which would you choose?
While this is certainly not a definitive answer as to the “why” of it all, it is a best guess situation. Why do you think women seem to like social gaming so much?