Which Games Are Women and Girls Playing?

A quick study based on ESA information.

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On the topic of gaming, many of us wrongly assume that it’s just the lads who are engaged in high-octane entertainment, puzzle games, and other online attractions. However, nothing could be further from the truth. According to various reports, notably from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), women make up a big slice of the gaming population. And that report is over 5 years old; the numbers have gone up since then.

What’s significant about this report is that it discusses adult women and doesn’t include girls under the age of 17. According to the study, women make up 31% of the video gaming population, while boys under the age of 17 comprise 19% of all players. This statistic is particularly interesting when we take into consideration the overall gaming population, where women make up 45% of all players. And they are frequent game purchasers 46% of the time.

A recent report in the Washington Post highlighted an even more interesting statistic: women 18+ years of age comprise 36% of the game playing populace, while boys 18 and under comprise 17%. At the time the study was conducted, men made up 52% of the gaming population and women made up 48%. Women prefer playing games on smartphones and tablets.  It’s important to differentiate between gamers and people who simply play games. Females who enjoy Facebook games aren’t hardcore gamers; gamers are the folks who have sophisticated hardware, software, multiplayer tech systems, and the like.

If the ESA statistic puts the number of female players at around 38% – 48% of the total gaming audience, this begs the question: What games are they playing? The ESA 2016 report indicates that 41% of players are female. The survey was conducted with 270,000 respondents across multiple game categories. Several genres were analyzed in the process, and it was found that high fantasy massively multiplayer online games (MMO) are a hot favorite of female players.

The games that women and girls enjoy most include The Elder Scrolls, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, and World of Warcraft. Female gamers tend to enjoy mobile puzzle cube crush games. These games blend action-based play with problem-solving. Cube blast games also feature a pretty even split between male and female players in that they strongly appeal to both genders.

The percentage of female gamers across genres indicates the following:

  • Match 3 Games – 69% are female
  • Family and Farm Simulation Games – 69% are female
  • Casual and Puzzle Games – 42% are female
  • Atmospheric Exploration Games – 41% are female
  • Interactive Drama Games – 37% are female
  • High Fantasy MMOs – 36% are female
  • Japanese role-playing games – 33% are female

The games with the lowest female components include sports games, tactical shooter games, racing games, first-person shooter games, grand strategy games, and MOBA games. In all instances, less than 10% of players are female. It’s interesting to point out that female participation dominates Match 3 and Family and Farm simulation gamers. This is by far the preferred option for the fairer sex. The Match 3 games that were analyzed in this specific study included titles like Farm Heroes Saga, Bejeweled, and Candy Crush Saga, while the Family and Farm simulation games included The Sims, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and Story of the Seasons.

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