Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are you a gamer girl?


With console gaming at an all time low and gamers becoming tired with aged game concepts, a new type of gamer has started to fill the void. This gamer has emerged as a direct result of the popularity increase in social gaming and the accessibility of smartphones and tablet devices. This new archetype is the video game girl.

Where did this trend come from? The console video game industry used to be a $500 million dollar industry in 2010. Since then sales have gone down 42% annually with more than $314 million dollars lost since 2010. Gamers are tired with console gaming. It cannot compete with the convenience of smartphone, tablet and social gaming and with a $60 price tag for new game releases it loses the battle against the $0.99 app games. However this does not mean that the age of the video game is over, in fact the industry is growing because of the love for social gaming.

Photo by :? Jerry Bunkers []

Joining the video game scene is the gamer girl. The once turned away gamer, who feared the hefty price tag and video game dedication that came? along with console gaming, is now open to the newer accessible world of gaming ? and they are willing to pay. ?A new survey by Ipsos MediCT has shown that now the gaming community is 40% female. This massive increase in female gaming has come from the new accessibility of gaming. Canada alone has 6.6 million smartphone users and in 2011 there were over 490 million smartphones sold worldwide. With the potential for gaming in the palm of your hand, in the device that you bring everywhere, it is easier to start playing games. Whether she is sitting on the subway or waiting in line, free games such as Angry Birds are too entertaining to resist. The gamer girl recognizes that these games are easy enough for anyone to play and they are not gender restrictive ? unlike many console games. The new accessibility of gaming can also be seen in the average age of gamers today, which has risen to 35 years old.

The video game market today has been challenged. Gamers are no longer content with paying $60 for a game when they can be just as entertained from a free app store game. However, the video game market has seen this challenge and changed to appeal to the evolving female consumer. Many games that are offered are now calm and easy to play. Farmville is an excellent example with the popular virtual crop tending game had sales estimated at over $362 million in 2010. Shockingly, the average age of the social gamer is a 43 year old woman. The picture of the prepubescent un-showered video game nerd is quickly being replaced by the stay at home mom. Social games are a fast growing market. The games are attached to a convenient social media application, are free to play and are very addicting. ?Most social gamers report that they frequent social gaming applications multiple times a day and with 53% using actual currency in the game it is a very lucrative market. Sometimes it is too tempting to resist being able to spend $5 to watch you virtual carrots grow 25 minutes faster.

Video games today have changed. More games are free to play initially and they are much more accessible. This trend has led to a large diversification of the average gamer. We may see dedicated video game stores closing their doors in the near future, but video gaming will live on ? through the gamer girl.

About Ian Longo

A third year student at Queen's University majoring in Classics.

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