[MUD-Dev] Game design and gender: An interesting article

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Tue Aug 31 12:46:39 CEST 1999

On Tue, 31 Aug 1999, Koster, Raph wrote:
> You should get her a Playstation with:
> Monster Rancher
> Tail of the Sun
> Both games are unavailable for PC & are perfect examples of games that
> females like though they aren't necessarily intended as such.

The Playstation has a huge selection of games covering many audiences.
In that respect it has broken the 'traditional' console mold quite a bit,
and for that reason is also the most successful console of all time.

Although I can't name too many right off hand, I would add Puzzle Fighter II
to your list.  (This, along with Bubble Bobble, is also a very popular
game with non-traditional markets, eg girls, in the arcade.)

> Game companies are 95% male, and also 95% under the age of 30.

That's a little pessimistic, but not too far off.  I would say that
my current employer (Angel Studios) is about 80% male and 70% under the
age of 30.  However, if you cut out all the 'suits' (marketing, payroll,
managment, HR) it's probably closer to 90% male and 80% under the age of

> It's also self-fulfilling marketing--females don't tend to frequent the
> retail channels that games are delivered by, and don't consider themselves
> to be in the target market and therefore do not seek out product...

Yup.  I saw a guy on some talk show several years ago (around the time that
CD-ROM was getting popular) who was a programmer (or designer, or something)
for adult CD-ROMs.  The audience was largely women, and a number of them
wanted to know "Why aren't there any of these things targeted at women?"
The guy had a pretty good answer: "Do I look like a woman?  If you want
a product that appeals to a certain audience, you really need to be
a member of that audience.  I wouldn't have the audacity to think that
I know what a woman wants out of erotic entertainment, or at least not
enough to wager time and money on such a project."

I thought that was a pretty good answer.  But, of course, it's somewhat
more complicated than that - once a market is established (which the video
game market certainly is), it gets hard to get backing in order to innovate.
Investors seem happy to throw money at developers promising blood and gore,
but a lot more sceptical if they promise complex social interactions and
noncompetative gameplay.  I think that is changing somewhat due to the
success of online games (especially UO) - it's becoming obvious that
social interaction is something that EVERYONE wants, and are willing to pay
$50 + $9.95 a month for. :)


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