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Is gaming really just for guys?

In the first of our occasional blog from teenagers explaining the digital world from their point of view, Max, 18, takes a personal look at the world of gaming for guys…and girls

Who remembers Pong? It was an extremely simple video game which involved two virtual paddles and an unusually square ‘ball’.

By today’s standards it was unusual because it was completely unisex. In complete contrast to the video games we see today which seem to run on testosterone more than electricity.

And Pong wasn't unique. Have you ever wondered why pac-man appeared to have a sex change during the early 80s? It wasn't Atari's commitment to gender balance, but the overwhelming popularity of the game amongst girls and women which brought Ms Pac-man to the masses. 

Of course it wasn't just women playing the games. Many of the stars of game design in the 80s were women. So where did it all go wrong? Why does gaming seem so male-dominated now?

Well, in 1983, the gaming industry took a nose dive mostly due to companies realising that quantity was far more important than quality. 

They started churning out video games such as E.T on the Atari which, as any veteran gamer will tell you, is perhaps the worst game of all time. By the late 80s, video game sales crashed, so when Nintendo decided to release their new console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, they knew they had to do something different. 

They decided that instead of putting the console in the electronics aisle of shops, they would put them in the toys aisle. Of course, by this point the pink and blue toy divide had long been established and Nintendo had to choose who to market to, and as you may have guessed they chose the boys. Once they had decided this, they marketed to boys relentlessly with some really quite dubious adverts, including ‘Will you save the girl, or play like one?’ 

Perhaps it's a little more subtle nowadays, but this attitude is still there in the scantily clad women and futuristic guns that cover the boxes of games. 

As with so many things, time has passed and the common assumption is that boys like gaming more than girls. This is a complete myth. More adult women play video games than teenage boys do! And although this may be more likely to be Candy Crush on the train to work than a 5 hour session of Call of Duty, it’s all gaming. 

All of which leads to is a huge untapped market for the video game industry purely because people refuse to let go of old fashioned ideas and ads. 

Saying video games are just for boys is just ridiculous! All it does is lose the industry money, make the games worse, and make it more difficult for girls to enjoy what is, despite what anyone may tell you, a new and wonderful art form.

Image: public domain