While women and girls are becoming more and more accepted as a viable demographic for video game developers and distributers, there’s still a widespread belief that we— those women and girls— are anomalies, or a new still-developing audience. Obviously, this commonly held belief is total BS, as any number of studies will tell you. As this video states, more grown women play video games than teenage boys. So why are more video games marketed to teenage boys than grown women? Well, according to this video from College Humor and Adam Ruins Everything, it all goes back to a simple marketing decision to put the first Nintendo system in the toy department rather than the electronics department (where Atari had been). And by that time in the ’80s, toy departments were already heavily segregated. So to everyone losing their sh*t over Target’s recent decision to meld their gender sections, THIS IS WHY THAT’S IMPORTANT. These things are not natural divisions, they are constructs based around monetary predictions. And one little marketing decision can alienate an entire gender for decades.
The mind boggling issue here is that not only do the ways video games are marketed— never including a woman in game ads until the target demographic is old enough to want to see them in lingerie— alienate women and girls, but it costs the game companies money. If you KNOW you have a large audience that doesn’t feel welcome but buys and uses your products anyway, just imagine what you could do if they actually felt like a healthy part of your community. This seems like a lose-lose situation, with an easy win-win.
A word of warning: do NOT venture into the video’s YouTube comments unless you’re looking for a sh*t storm of people aggressively mocking the very idea that women may actually feel unwelcome in gaming and feeling personally threatened by the very idea of putting phone-based games in the same category as console games. Because games are games, but other games are… fodder for vehement verbal abuse.