It’s time for the video game industry to ask itself some tough questions about the female market. Why don’t more women play video games? Is it because, due to their flawed feminine nature, they prefer to play mind games instead? While it is inarguably fun to ruin the lives of those close to you or drive men to the brink of madness, I believe women can have just as much fun manipulating and tormenting virtual humans. As females make up 50% of any given country’s population (except in China), this is a market that developers can no longer afford to ignore. It’s time to figure out why women aren’t buying games.
It’s a common mistake to think, “But there are already a lot of games for girls. Aren’t Bubble Bobble and Pokemon for women?” No, those are for little girls. And sissies. “What about SingStar and Dance Dance Revolution? Who are those games for?” Answer: gay men.
No, games for mature adult women are still a relatively untapped market. Here are a few things my sisters and I are looking for (and not looking for) in games. (Bonus note: most of these points also apply to men.)
What Women Want in Games
I think World of Warcraft has nailed this with the Auction House, but there’s no reason they can’t improve on the shopping experience. Why do all your shopping in a room with 3 people when you could have a mall? What’s the point of buying weapons and armor if I can’t get them engraved or monogrammed? Where am I going to get an Orange Julius? With the one-person “Dressing Room”, how am I going to ask my friends if this new robe makes me look fat?
There’s definitely some room for improvement here.
I realize all multiplayer games have some form of chat, but it’s somewhat limited at the moment. For example, in WoW, I can’t open up more than 6 chat windows before I can’t see the action anymore! What is this game for, losers with less than 6 friends?
None of these windows has nearly enough room for me to find out about how my friend’s date went.
Also, the constant interruptions to chatting are really annoying. I’ll be telling a friend about a new haircut I’m thinking about getting, and all of a sudden some monster kills me! This is the worst in places like Onyxia’s Lair and like Karazhan. And then a whole bunch of people start yelling at me and clogging up my chat windows even more! What the hell? I’m talking here!
Now, I don’t know a lot about the technical aspects of game programming, so I’ll leave this up to the developers, but somehow, bars of chocolate need to come out of the computer every now and then.
Hair and Clothes
These really need some work. I was playing Battlefield 1942 the other day and everyone was wearing the same clothes! That was embarassing.
I don’t know where you would fit these into a game, but they need to be in there somewhere. Maybe, instead of riding a horse or a tank, you could ride like an otter or a kitten. And maybe during a boss fight, there could just be baby tigers playing in the background.
I’d buy it.
So I was playing Diablo or something the other day, and I know it’s all about going to Hell and killing Satan or whatever, but that doesn’t mean that somewhere along the line my character couldn’t fall in love with a goofy gardener who’s been slacking since high school but after meeting me wants to really make something of his life and after a series of wacky misunderstandings and crazy capers we get married and kill Satan or whatever together.
And I think it should take place in Tuscany instead of Hell.
I don’t think I can emphasize this enough.
What Women Don’t Want in Games
Sure, it’s all in good fun when we pretend to be turned on by big boobs in order to humor men’s fantasies and get attention. But there is a limit to how much a woman can enjoy computer-animated boobs bouncing across the screen. (Exception: Nothing But Bouncing Boobs 3, the breakthrough title that swept all demographic categories with its universal appeal.)
Too many games seem to be designed solely to give men erections. Where are the titles designed to give women erections? The few futile attempts to give “beefcake” to the girls have been based on misconceptions such as thinking large muscles are what appeals to women. In this vein, Dead or Alive: Beefcake for Her failed to sell to women, as did the ill-fated male Tomb Raider series, in which the main character’s enormous flapping penis both made gameplay difficult and did little to arouse. However, both games sold surprisingly well in the gay male market.
So what does it take to make a male character attractive to women? The answer is simple:
All That Killing
So many games these days are centered around killing and fighting. In Super Mario Bros. you open the game by encountering a new creature entirely unknown to you up to this point, and you respond by stepping on its head. Is it any wonder that all the other creatures from here on out are out to get you? This strange alien has entered into their world, and its first act is to step on someone’s head. What are they supposed to think?
Instead of killing a dragon, or a zombie, or the physical embodiment of evil, why can’t you just talk things out with them? Just because you and your loved ones want to live, and your opponent wants to wipe out all humanity in a rain of fire, does it really mean you can’t work out some kind of compromise that would make everyone happy?
I personally find that if you all just take some time out and have some tea and some fresh cookies, you’ll soon find that all your conflicts look pretty silly and there’s nothing that can’t be hammered out.
The exception would be those really thin supermodels and actresses who keep saying they can eat anything they want and never seem to gain any weight. I think we should still be able to shoot them in games.
Lack of Chocolate
I really hate to keep rehashing this, but it really does make it difficult to play games sometimes.