Female gamers make up nearly half the U.S. game market: Grassroots Game Conference - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 21, 2013 12:30 pm

Female gamers make up nearly half the U.S. game market: Grassroots Game Conference

"I feel like it's really hard to be a female writer because we're so convinced that women don't play games," video game writer Nicole Kline said at last week's Grassroots Game Conference panel on women in game development. "We think it's mostly straight white men, but that's so not true."
From left, Heidi McDonald of Pittsburgh-based Schell Games, Prasanna Krishnan of Philadelphia-based SmartyPAL and Nicole Kline of gaming news site Warp Zoned speak at the Grassroots Game Conference.

From left, Heidi McDonald of Pittsburgh-based Schell Games, Prasanna Krishnan of Philadelphia-based SmartyPAL and Nicole Kline of gaming news site Warp Zoned speak at the Grassroots Game Conference.

Even as a woman gamer herself, Nicole Kline still sometimes forgets that there are other — many, actually — women gamers out there. In fact, female gamers make up nearly half of the U.S. game market, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

That can make it hard to veer from the stereotypical male protagonist story lines, said Kline, a video game writer and senior editor at gaming news site Warp Zoned.

“I feel like it’s really hard to be a female writer because we’re so convinced that women don’t play games,” Kline said at last week’s Grassroots Game Conference panel on women in game development. “We think it’s mostly straight white men, but that’s so not true.”

When Kline worked on one game, her boyfriend suggested she make the protagonist a woman, and she remembers thinking, “I can’t do that.” Kline, who co-organizes the local Girl Geek Dinners meetup, said she’s now working on a game where the main character is a woman.

Kline was one of three women on the Grassroots Game Conference’s women in game development panel,  where the roughly hour-and-a-half-long conversation didn’t focus exclusively on issues that women face. Much of the discussion and questions centered on game development in general: Prasanna Krishnan of children’s iPad game company SmartyPAL spoke of what it’s like to develop games for children, Heidi McDonald of Pittsburgh-based Schell Games described her experience beta-testing games, Kline talked about working on analog games.

Still, the women did touch on issues of sexism, specifically at game conference PAX, how the game world is male-dominated (“Last year was the first time I went to PAX and there was a line in the women’s bathroom,” Kline said) and what it’s like to play a game as a character that’s completely different from you — in terms of gender, race and age.

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