“Girl Gamers” and WoW

In many of the gaming sites this morning are yet more articles about developing games for girls. The BBC has an article about the games industry supposedly failing women, and Joystiq has coverage that includes quite a few (unintentionally) funny/sad comments. Although I have to admit that I would probably buy that pink PS2, I always quite quite irate about the games-that-appeal-to-women articles. Yes, we need more women game developers (Blizz? You could hire me, for example.) Yes, we need to consider what makes a game attractive to women. We shouldn’t assume that women want rainbows and pink ponies, nor should we assume that women want quick puzzle games that can be played while waiting for that load of wash to finish.

I think that Blizzard gets it right with Warcraft.

I have never played the Sims, as I think real life is boring enough and I can’t imagine spending hours in a mundane environment. (Yeah, yeah, so I’ll happily spend hours grinding and levelling professions in WoW – admitted.) I know a lot of girls and women who excel at fragging people in FPS games, and as we all know, there are a lot of women who play Warcraft seriously. Shopping or clubbing games? I wouldn’t buy those in a million years.

I think the draw of Warcraft is that (among many other things), it is a multi-layered game, allowing for many types of play according to personal taste or mood. You can use it as 3D avatar chat, you can PvP, you can build a character by levelling professions and selling what you make, you can do roleplaying, you can spend your online life in battlegrounds. It is so immersive and playable in part because of the depth of the content, and the myriad ways in which you can play the game.

That, in my humble opinion, is what women want. It’s what most of us want, isn’t it? A game that you can’t finish in four hours. A game that can be a totally different experience for different players. A game that will still be playable a year from now.

8 Comments so far

  1. Burnside of Kargath (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 5:32 am

    I would definately agree with you that current games are great for female gamers also. My wife plays a lot of games wiht me, including Warcraft. (She’s a level 60 female dwarf priest… love that Riverdance!)

    I think that the statistics are what is making people say women don’t play as many games. I blame marketing. I think the developers are doing a fine job, but I think the marketing departments of these gaming companies aren’t trying hard enough to portray the current games in a light that would make most women want to try them. You always hear about guys seeing a cool preview or article for games, but the majority of women I know that play were started on it by husbands, boyfriends, other friends, etc. Basically women get started all based on word of mouth, from my expirience.

    I’d like to see a survey of current gamers to link there gender with how they heard about a game.


  2. Shannon Campbell (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 11:29 am

    I’ve almost always started games based on references — I played FFXI for two years based on a recommendation from a friend, and picked up WoW immediately after that for the same reason.

    I agree — there’s no way I’d play a game centered around things that are generally considered ‘girly,’ as that doesn’t interest me at all IRL, let alone in my free time.

    When I was younger I dated guys who gamed, but it was almost like they *didn’t* want to share it with me: “Oh, you won’t like this… it’s too hard to learn… I can get you Animal Crossing if you want to try a new game…” Seriously. It wasn’t until I dated someone who wanted me to love gaming the way he did (and introducing me to Star Control II instilled exactly that desire) that I really started to get into it.

    Of course, now I play too much WoW to probably maintain a decent relationship.. if I left the house long enough to find one. :D


  3. Burnside of Kargath (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

    I think WoW actually is good for my marriage. Before WoW, we didn’t have a lot to talk about.

    ME: How was work?
    HER: Fine. How was work for you?
    ME: Fine.
    (End of conversation, start watching TV)

    Now we are always discussing encouters, guild drama, talents, etc. It gives us something to chat about that we both have in common, and really love. Plus, we like to hang out with our WoW friends, because we both know them. It’s not like when we hang out with her or my friends where one of us is on the outside of the group looking in. We’re both included.

    Although, I’m jealous of her sometimes when she gets to raid and I don’t. Sometimes you have to have a dwarf priest I guess :)


  4. Lex (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

    I’m one of those FPS chicks who came over to WOW because of friends. WOW is my first MMO. Definitely I agree that some of the success of WOW for players in general and women in particular is the multi-faceted entertainment value.

    However, the downside to that is that when you get folks together in a guild and want to accomplish an objective, you have to compromise and reconcile all those different motivations.


  5. Macy Helms (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

    Amen Ravven! I wasn’t much of a gamer before WoW, the except of an addiction to Black and White, and Fable. I loved Fable, but it pissed me off that I had to play a boy. I mean, how hard would it have been to give me the option of playing a chick? My boyfriend brought Dead Rising home last week, and it is the only game to touch the 360 since. I like it, but I really would like to play Francine instead of Frank.
    My point is: I want games where I can see myself in thier worlds. That why I love WoW- because deep down I’m a orc warlock bent on bringing the Nether under my control. Muahahahahahaha!


  6. Tr@cey (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    Hi all. I soooooooooo agree here. I have NEVER touched gaming in the past, mostly cos I work with computers all the time anyway, but also cos I’m not really a fly spaceships and “kill kill kill” kind of person. On the other had I do LOVE fantasy novels and movies so when a girlfriend (who got into it since it was a way of “talking” to her family) showed me the graphics and the quests and her shapechanging drood i was tempted. The first time I tried it for myself I was hooked! Now my main is 52 (yes a drood), and I have an alt in each race. You know what keeps me there? All the little touches. The artwork is AMAZING. Not just on the big scene things but in the little things too. And yes I do “kill kill kill” and enjoy it! Rather do it with physical weapons than a spaceship any day though :)


  7. Bryn (unregistered) on August 27th, 2006 @ 10:59 am

    I started playing because of my kids. Now my and my sons’ major chars are about the same level.

    What I appreciate is trying to better myself to handle things that were difficult two levels ago.

    After some time I learned to enjoy “partying”. What is fun there is to try to make – a mostly new – constellation of people cooperate and handle challenging situations. Most fun is actually instances that the team is “just on the edge” to manage. If you could do it, it is great fun.

    Also the kind of conflicts are interesting. And strategies.

    BTW – I am a very adult female.


  8. Angry WoW gamer! (unregistered) on September 10th, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

    Women in WoW DO NOT EXIST!!

    Anybody who says they re a girl… is really a Guy In Real Life!

    I have never seen a chick play WoW and will probably never will!!



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