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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Women gear up for gaming invasion
By Jane Wakefield
BBC News website technology reporter

Screengrab from The Sims 2
The Sims has sold in equal quantities to men and women
Women are about to invade the male dominated gaming world, a games conference in Scotland is to be told.

Games consultant Ernest Adams will say the stage is set for an explosion of women gamers, especially in the area of massively-multi-player online gaming.

There needs to be a sea-change in the industry, with more female developers and more games for women, he believes.

Mr Adams is to address the 2005 Women in Games Conference being held in August in Dundee, Scotland.

Puzzling games

The games that are likely to appeal to women are not the traditional "hack and slash" ones or time-consuming strategy games that men prefer.

"Women don't have free time even to set up a game. They require a game that is quick to get into and doesn't require a great time commitment," said Mr Adams, founder of the International Game Developers' Association.

The fact that women also tend to be more social means multi-player games will appeal more than single-player ones.

"We are soon going to be seeing massively-multi-player online games that are dominated by female players," he said.

"Existing online role-playing games are succeeding with women in spite of their subject matter, not because of it. When we get more games whose gameplay genuinely appeals to female players, we can expect to see huge growth there," he said.

Equal split

Online games such as Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, in which gamers have to solve a series of puzzles and games set in an a pirate world, are proving highly successful with women.

The hugely popular Sims sells equally well to women as it does to men.

Screenshot of Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Role-playing games - Final Fantasy
Narrative adventures - Legend of Zelda
Easy to pick up driving sims - Colin MacRae Rally
Puzzle adventures - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Quick-fire arcade puzzlers - Tetris
Life simulations - The Sims
Source: Elspa white paper on women in gaming
"It is no coincidence that the developer team on this was also evenly split between men and women," said Mr Adams.

"They are usually developing games for a male market and they are often impeded by a masculine development culture."

"The industry has become more conservative as the costs of development have risen and they are less willing to take risks."

Women represent a market that the games industry can not afford to ignore but it will require a huge marketing push alongside games designed with women in mind.

Shops selling games can often be off-putting for women and there are few adverts for games in women's magazines.

In an effort to change this, games store Gamestation has invited the UK arm of the PMS Clan, a group of 40 of the best female gamers, to come into stores across the country over the summer.

Clan members will be on hand to chat to other girls about gaming and take on anyone - boys included - at their own favourite game.

Majority in Korea

Statistics from the US Entertainment Software Association suggest that there are now more women players in the US than there are teenage gamers.

Three UK PMS girls at the recent 'trueplayerz' charity gaming event in London
The UK clan of PMS are appearing in stores across the UK
The figures include free games that are accessed via portals such as Yahoo.

The so-called casual gaming market, made up of games such as poker, pool, bridge, bingo and puzzles, is a booming one, especially among women.

A study by the UK games trade body, the Entertainment and Leisure Publishers Association (Elspa), found that women gamers in the UK made up a quarter of the gaming population. This compares to 39% in the US and 69% in South Korea.

The average UK woman gamer is between 30 and 35 years old and plays for around seven hours each week, the study found.

The 2005 Women in Games Conference at the University of Abertay in Dundee aims to look at why games have traditionally failed to appeal to a mass audience of women, as well as examining how women interact with computer games, and what has led to the recent growth in female players.

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04 Sep 04 |  Technology

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