There are currently more women playing video games than men in the UK. Yep, really. This is a fact that many of us wouldn’t have thought possible when the video gaming industry hit the mainstream media more than 30 years ago. But a study performed by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) has revealed that women actually make up the majority people playing video game in the UK.
This shift between male and female gamers is due a surge in popularity of free downloadable puzzle and trivia apps which are particularly popular amongst women aged 25 – 44. Women now account for 52% of the 33.5 million Britons who now play video games.
The same study also revealed that video games are by no means a young man’s game, there are more people over the age of 44 playing video games than teenagers or children. With video games, age is only a number and you’re as young as your trigger finger feels, as even people aged 65 – 74 regularly partake in a spot of gaming. It seems grandad loves killing prostitutes in GTA.
This growth in both female and older gamers is no doubt down to the vast amount of free games now available, with 61% of all games ‘purchased’ within the last 6 months being free downloads. Becoming a gamer has never been easier, we all possess smartphones that are connected to the internet for much of our day and literally have a wealth of games at our fingertips.
Steve Chester Director of Data & Industry Programmes believes that the barriers of entry into video games have been significantly reduced.
“The internet and mobile devices have changed the gaming landscape forever, they’ve brought down the barriers to entry, making gaming far more accessible and opened it up to a whole new audience. In the past you needed to go out and buy an expensive console and the discs on top to get a decent experience, now you can just download a free app.”
This growth in the video gaming audience shows no signs of stopping stating that, the average UK gamer aged 16 an upwards regularly spends 11 hours a week playing video games and younger audiences between the ages of 8 and 15 play for an average of 20 hours. If anything we may see the average hours spent playing video games rise as more children are raised on them.
Free to play games may be great at expanding the video game audience but those developers still have to make money, this is where those free games have to be careful not build a bad reputation for themselves, by spamming the screen with in app purchases . 61% of gamers were happy to have advertisements in their game so long as they could still get it for free.,Steve Chester goes onto say.
“Getting in-game advertising right is a very delicate skill. In-game ads can enhance the experience by adding realism or extra content – as long as they’re not interruptive and irrelevant. If they are, it can have the opposite effect and stop people playing.”
Growth and diversity is something which the video game industry desperately needs if it’s ever going to fully shirk the image of hormone addled boys screaming curse words at a screen in their mother’s basement.
This increase in female gamers, will encourage more women to enter into the video game industry and with any luck we will continue to see an increase in equality and diversity in both video games and the people who play them.