idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
And this is an actual problem, and it's one very few people in the gaming industry are vocal about solving.
I fear we've gotten about as far as we're going to on this front.
Things may certainly continue to improve slowly over time, but there's not a large pool of girls who haven't had a chance to experience gaming like there used to be. I'd wager instead of seeing some great leaps and bounds in equality in gaming you'll likely see a female dominated niche fully develop where their wants are better represented. Think about T.V., there's shows more geared at women, and some more geared at men, there's Lifetime, and there's ESPN. There's stuff in-between, for sure, but it's not like every channel promotes and aims their content equally at both sexes. Same goes for most stuff, books, movies, restaurants, etc. etc.
I suspect that when the maturity of the gaming world is complete, we'll see something akin to this. You're still going to have your traditional AAA title, with damsels in distress, big muscular guys, powerful guns and swords and other manly things. But you'll also have other games, something entirely different, that millions of women will play and enjoy.
I have to disagree. Because market research is more consistently showing that girls being the "casual" gamers is a myth, and more and more executives are realizing that they're shooting themselves in the foot by not bringing in more of that market. Right now, white, straight male gamers are a REALLY easy group to rope in, even when a lot of your development time goes to making the game accessible for other audiences. So when you're pretty much guaranteed a sizable population of players, it doesn't make any sense to design the game to be solely accessible to that group. That's just wasted profit; your revenue isn't really going to increase much there.
But if you open the game up to large, and relatively untapped, populations, then the ROI on that investment is far larger.
Right now, the biggest thing keeping the industry from actually pulling the trigger there is fear, since it's new territory. But the studios that HAVE started making their games more accessible have generally done quite well. BioWare has two really solid franchises with significant popularity for female gamers (plus PoC gamers and ***** gamers). Bethesda's Skyrim sold quite well to those demographics, etc.
And more companies have started to switch it up. CoD: Ghosts, for instance. Their new systems for handling harassment, adding female models, a story that's more emotionally driven (though still a sausage fest). And talk about a game that's the bread-and-butter for your average white, straight, male gamer. But they're investing their money into opening that up to new demographics, because they aren't going to make more money off that existing population. They stand to make money by selling their game to more people, and the way they do that is to expand their reach.
That means spending their money designing for those populations, because they're guaranteed the core demographic anyway.
Sure, there are going to be some really butthurt 40 YO guys raving on the forums from their parents' basement. But the company is just going to laugh their way to the bank.
One interesting thing I want to point out is that there's also a pervasive issue with representation that is actually specifically produced by our relationship with media. When creating mixed crowds, casting specifically loads the screen with men. IIRC, 18% of people on screen in crowds are women.
Studies show the end result is that humans who grow up in a media culture are used to subconsciously judging there to be a significant majority of women when you increase the population from 18%, but still keep them a minority.
There's literally only one way to counter this, and that's to aggressively counter it so our perceptions readjust. There's just no other option.