When the industry of video game development was still in its infancy, it had nowhere near the broad range of appeal that it enjoys today especially with women. Whereas today the demographics concerning consumers show a rather healthy level of diversity, this was originally not the case by any means. Video games were initially a very niche hobby, one that only really drew consistent audiences from the younger generations, which contributed to the mascot approach of many franchises during those earlier years when the market was not the lucrative titan that we have become accustomed to.
Video Game Landscape
But the video game industry has been around for several decades now, and the landscape has not remained stagnant, rather, it has shifted and morphed quite significantly. Whereas not all that long ago the stereotype of the average gamer was that of a teenage boy playing an online shooter in his room, this caricature of the audience of video games is no longer even vaguely representative anymore. Not only are notable amounts of people from just about every age category playing video games in one form or another, but it has also come to light that women are not the minority that they are made out to be—far from it, actually.
In a study carried out by Populus that covers many facets of the current audience of video games, one of the facts that was revealed is that in the United Kingdom, female gamers actually outnumber male gamers. Considering that the industry had for quite some time been a gendered one to at least some extent, this comes as a bit of a surprise. Somewhere along the way there had to be a tipping point, an event that shifted the demographic away from what we have come to expect to what is currently the case.
Mobile Gaming & Women
The answer can be found in the rise of mobile gaming. To understand why video games was considered to be a boy’s club for the longest time, one has to understand exactly what it meant to be someone who played video games, as well as everything that such entailed. Once home consoles became the crown jewel of the industry that they are today, the standard for the next few decades had been set. In order to play a video game, first one would have to go out and buy a console, of which there are not only a variety of them to choose from, but none of them come cheap either (so long as we’re talking about current generation systems). Once that has been done, then they’d have to decide on which games to actually purchase—of which physical copies are expensive on and around release. And if it turns out that what they purchased isn’t really their cup of tea, they may feel discouraged by the entire venture, not to mention that there are those among video game consumers who are not welcoming to perceived outsiders and can make trying to introduce oneself into the hobby an unpleasant experience.
Added on to all of this the fact that someone would be undertaking all of this as one unfamiliar with the industry and market, and the whole effort is not only expensive, but daunting as well. But now that there is the option of mobile gaming, the gates have been opened to demographics who otherwise would never have gone through the trouble of testing the waters. Considering that so many people own smartphones nowadays, the issue of hardware shopping is in fact a non issue; and the cost of downloading gaming apps is microscopic compared to buying physical copies (a lot of gaming apps are free to play).
These differences make the barrier of entry into the hobby—once an intimidating and costly obstacle—practically nonexistent. People no longer have to risk a large investment in order to dip their toes, and as a result feel free to play whatever genre they wish in whatever capacity they wish. This has led to the equalization of the audience of video games, and overall created a healthier market for the industry as a whole.