Let’s blow up some stereotypes.
There is a popular and enduring image of what a “gamer” looks like: mostly male, mostly juvenile, mostly white. That image is false, and has been for a long time now.
According to a survey from the Entertainment Software Association, there are significantly more adult women playing video games than adolescent males—just like there were last year. Why does this matter? Because the “gamer culture” propagated by industry marketing and perpetuated elsewhere does not reflect reality, and it has created an environment that is unwelcoming to anyone who does not fit this “norm.” As Kill Screen notes, the status quo that is pushed out into the world is one that caters to men, both teenage and adult. It shows in industry events and in the places where games are made. It shows in the ways games are marketed to us. It might even show in the comments section beneath this article.
Here’s the exact breakdown: Of the 59 percent of Americans who play video games, 36 percent are women aged 18 or older. Boys 18 or younger, whom are highly sought after by marketers, only make up 17 percent of the gaming population in the U.S. When not broken down by age, the split between genders is almost even: 48 percent of American gamers are female, while 52 percent are male.
Proof of a diverse gaming public is a step toward a diverse games industry, one that produces titles that are bold and different and challenging and unlike anything we’ve seen before. It means that a woman who enjoys Call of Duty can jump online and play a few rounds without being sexually harassed. It means video games, and those who make them, stop becoming misogynist havens.