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Gender and Age Distribution

In an earlier essay titled “Men are from Ogguk. Women are from Kelethin”, I argued that male and female MMORPG players have very different motivations and reasons for playing.

The graph above plotting gender against age highlights another very important gender difference. Male players tend to be between 12 and 28, while female players tend to be between 23 and 40. Rather than categorizing MMORPG players as male and female players, it perhaps makes more sense to think of the two main groups as younger male players and older female players.

Posted on January 1, 2003 | Comments (58) | TrackBack (0)


This is a contrast I noticed when I was playing rpg's via irc chat. The male players tended to be late teens/early 20s while the female players tended to be in their 30s and 40s. I have a theory about why this is, but it's hard to tell if it would stand up to testing. My theory simplified for quick statement is this: idealized males (for mating purposes) are the ones in their 30s and 40s while idealized females are in their late teens and twenties. People of those ages are having more success in face to face interactions. People of the ages you see online benefit more from the idealization that occurs when you imagine your online interlocutors.

Posted by: Merriam on January 10, 2003 8:32 AM

While I would agree that most of the female player of any online game tend to be older then the males for. This humble and quite possibby
wronmg it has more to due with popularity in RL.
For people devolpe like and dilikes at a very early age. Their not static and lifeless but evolve while at leat in my life I was stuck play in AD&d wich lead me in to a life of crime but thats well,,,, You see Ad&d instilled the love of fantasy so while the unpopular garvitated to ward elves and goblins they , the popular kicked the balls around and chassed the girls. Thier I bet you thouht I had for gotten about them(girls)e for it seem to me that the reason for the female player tends to be to socialize with other and as they stay rooted to one man and thier circle of friend grows smaller , at leat the onesthat actually count. I ve seen it in manmy woman that play games or go on chart room but the vurve is change rapidly as the gender barier is toren down.

Posted by: Michael on January 10, 2003 9:18 AM

As one of the over 30 female players of MMORPGs I can tell you that it has nothing to do with popularity or face to face interactions, (women over 30 are very capable of socializing) it has to do with who has the most free time. Though times have changed, there are still more women at home and out of the workplace than there are men. So, after exciting years of college and employment and interaction, many women are now at home all day long with children and need an adult diversion; while many men are too busy with their careers for the dedication of an MMORPG. That is my theory, based upon being an over 30 player and knowing over 30 players, though I am not married myself, I am in graduate school, and so technically I'm still 23. =)

Posted by: Constance on January 10, 2003 9:59 AM

As a Male over 30 I have to agree with every word Constance said. All my life i played sports, dated constantly and was always popular. All my life i also played AD&D and console/CPU games. I could have been out at the movies with a girl or "kicking the ball around" with my friends but i played games more because i enjoyed them. As to the ages of M/F Constance is probably right on the money. I am now a student/stay-at-home-dad and so probably fall into the same catagory that many females over 30 fall into. I have a lot more time at home than most men over 30 do and get to play online games a lot more.

Posted by: ValeShadowind on January 10, 2003 11:23 AM

There may be a simpler hypothesis for this 1) the population counts are very different. 52% of 500 is easier to get than 52% of 5,000. The significance isn't as great when you compare a small population (female gamers) to a larger one (male gamers).

Another reason this might be the case is by this age I bet money most of your women are married, or dating someone. I would do a crosstable by age and marital status to see, but my guess is the real findings is teen and 20's male gamers, and married female gamers over 30. They are married to male gamers, however this is where the population size comes into play. The male married gamers over 30 form maybe 15% of players. That same *number* of female players is like 52% of the female gamer universe

Posted by: Laurenthial on January 10, 2003 11:39 AM

The female/male age difference raises many questions for me. Is it not possible that the social focus of the game attributed as primarily female is not an age dependent factor rather than a gender factor?

It seems to me that these statistics make contrasts between females and males much less convincing, since the genders have such differing age demographics (and all factors associated with age: income, stability, family structure).

Posted by: Teucer on January 10, 2003 12:25 PM

As a female player that falls into the demographic I have to say that I also feel that it has nothing to do with good or bad RL interactions. That theory continues the stereotypes that gamers are all RL losers. I agree with Constance that it has much more to do with time. Also, males in general play a lot more video games than women. Teenage boys start playing MMORPGs as a natural extension of an interest in ALL video games. They play through High School and College, and somewhere around the time they start to pursue a career, have a family etc... they stop playing.

Women on the other hand would have more time to play as their children are older and more able to take care of themselves.

These women might also discover the game via their children who would most likely be teens when the start playing accounting for the older age group.

Posted by: Slapfish on January 12, 2003 1:02 PM

just want to post my comments,
it seems to me that women in the 20's and teens ranges are busy doing other things like dating and college etc.
when they get to 30's etc and above it seems to me that the glory of their marriage and dating life is less interesting and they're looking for outlets from stress their having. men tend to come home and relieve stress from work at home, while women can't really relieve stress at home because that might mean yelling at the kids and they usually don't want to do that. women tend to talk with their girlfriends a lot and if there's not a lot of girlfriends around to relieve stress with then they feel bottled up inside....thats my 2 cents correct me if i'm wrong and sorry if i've stereotyped comments i think have to do more with single mom and married women situations and don't have much to do with the single women scenarios

Posted by: noahriding on January 12, 2003 3:10 PM

btw the way people stereotype gamers as losers is much the way they stereotyped D&D ...which is just a spinoff of how they did things at the salem witch trials ...etc..
statistics are statistics and if they're done properly you can't really bend things the fact that there is a differing age for men and women gamers is a reliable finding. I don't know why but women in the 20's range don't seem to play games much ..specially if their single? maybe some of you ladies can tell us why that is...

Posted by: noahriding on January 12, 2003 3:14 PM

I'm an over 35 female player. Most of the age 29+ female players I know play because we have male friends, romantic or otherwise, who intoduced us to the game.

Posted by: Doebi on January 13, 2003 3:33 PM

Most women between the ages of 14 and 28 feel MMORPGs are beneath them. It's my theory that most women have inflated opinions of themselves at this age and don't think gaming is a befitting pasttime for a princess. This delusional thinking is largely beaten out of women by the age of thirty by the harsh realities of life, and they no longer see MMORPGs as beneath their station.

Men, on the other hand, begin to realize, at the age of thirty or so, that they are indeed kings of their castles, masters of their domain, and MMORPGs are seen as beneath the dignity of princely endeavor. Unfortunately, these male delusions are not rectified by life's vicissitudes, and only death can effect a cure.

That and the fact that most men over thirty can't stand to be around teenage boys, or worse yet, the immature 20-somethings.

Posted by: Arlin on January 14, 2003 7:46 AM

It doesn't seem that anyone who's posted a comment so far has actually looked at the graph. The graph shows that women 23-28 actually comprise the largest group of female players with women over 35 a close second, so the premise that women in their twenties are too socially active to play simply doesn't make sense considering the statistics that these are the most frequent players. The average age for both marriage and motherhood falls squarely within the 23-28 age range for females, so the hypothesis that female players are those who are not busy in either the social world or the homefront simply doesn't hold up, at least not given these results.

Posted by: Kaydee on January 14, 2003 10:26 PM

Since most of the comments left here were left in January, nobody may read this, but I just wanted to add my two cents in:

Females are not socialized to play games. As a 25 year old female who enjoyed games throughout her young childhood, and then abandoned them when I got into highschool and felt compelled to 'conform', games weren't cool for girls, and as such, it took me a while (until I was about 22 or 23) to really cycle back to them as something I felt comfortable being passionate about and spending my time with.

It seems entirely possible to me that the 23-28 age range being the most prolific for female MMORPG players could be attributed, somewhat, to the fact that it's around that age (generally) that people, both women and men, start to shed the construct of what society expects of them in their passions and hobbies, and start to simply follow their joy.

Posted by: elena on May 28, 2003 3:19 PM

As Laurenthial mentioned, it is important to point out that the survey (and most others here are comparable in percentage) was responded to by 2,439 males and only 404 females. So at any given point on the chart it would be helpful to see actual number bars behind the lines. What I wonder about is, do you suppose that because we (women) are in the minority that game developers ignore our wishes? While certainly anecdotal, my girlfriends love the *idea* of MMORPGs but find the content too flimsy to fall in love with. (Alas, I'm still the only woman I know who's into this stuff.)

Posted by: Chaelura on July 23, 2003 8:58 PM

I'm a 15 year old girl who does nothing but play rpgs and roleplay , as well as strategy games.

My enjoyment comes from dominating over the guys.. =)

I have alot of free time on my hands, and all my friends (Who are basically all guys since most other girls don't like this stuff) are into this stuff as well.

Posted by: A person on December 4, 2003 5:51 PM

I am a 40 year old female, and one of the main reasons I play is because I *hate* television. I feel that I would much rather immerse myself in a game where I can think/interact/problem solve than sit there staring glassy-eyed at the tube. I developed an interest in gaming in general that started in my mid-teens and have loved it since. I play now with my RL companion, and will probably continue to play games of some sort for as long as they hold my interest.

Posted by: flea on July 13, 2004 5:48 AM

I'm not entirely sure where Arlin is going with that little spiel on 'delusional thinking' and 'princely endeavours', though I do find myself agreeing with elena's post. Generally speaking, video games are labelled in society as belonging to the male domain. Advertisements for these games are targeted largely toward males (young and old) through a variety of mediums, such as television, magazines, etc. - and, in part due to this, parents are also far more likely to spontaneously purchase a game for a male child than for a female. Gaming, then, becomes in a sense the norm for males, whereas for the majority of females it remains a kind of undiscovered country due to their experiences (or lack thereof).

As a 21 year old female who grew up with a bunch of male cousins who were very much into video games, I think that I might more accurately fall into the demographic for the younger male gamers. This brings me to the point that gender/age related distribution in MMORPGs is influenced to a great degree by societal configurations of conventional male/female pasttimes. In other words, the demographic has to do with opportunity (in encountering video games), experience and personal interest, as opposed to any kind of mindset prevalent within society (i.e. that 30-ish women are not 'ideal', etc). The notion of gaming being a refuge of sorts from the real world, an escapicism, while not untrue (especially for the younger age demographic, regardless of sex), really shouldn't be applied across the board for individuals' reasons for getting into a MMORPG.

Though, the point made by other posters about time seems valid too. Speaking as an aimless college student, I really can't say, yet. ;)

Posted by: halcyqon on January 17, 2005 6:09 PM

I would not have thought that females played more than males as time goes on. I am wondering, at the 23-28 age range do women begin to play more often - or is it simply male gamers taking over as the female gamers age? I am curious about this.

Posted by: Josh on March 16, 2005 12:35 PM

I'm writing a paper on women in mmo's and I have a slightly different theory.

If you look at the data here about the number of women who play with a romantic partner, the numbers are astounding. I haven't tested this yet, but from talking to other girls who play, it seems like dating or being married to an mmo player is overwhelmingly the most common way of being introduced to them. On top of that, it seems that the more serious the relationship is, the more likely that the girlfriend or wife will actually start playing.

If you think about it this way, I think it makes a lot of sense that women don't really start playing until they hit about 18, with more and more starting after that age.

Posted by: Marie on April 12, 2005 12:36 PM

I am female, 52 years old, married and an avid gamer. I have owned a computer straight time since 1979, got into the Ultima series in 1982 and, in fact, was a beta tester for UO in 1997, one of the grandparents of MMORPGs. My husband has a theory about male/female distribution by age/gender in online games.
Young males play the games to kill shit, level and collect loot. Young females play it to meet guys. Older males play it to meet women. Older females play it to kill shit, level and collect loot. I've told him this may have to do with menopause. I'm only halfway joking.

Posted by: Cait on May 31, 2005 10:22 AM

I am female and over 30, and the main reason I didn't play MMORPGs was due to feeling a quite intimidated by the male-dominated realm. Also I was rather turned off by gamer things like E3 which had women in bikinis and high heels running around, or games that really seem to sell games with women's sexuality. I started to play MMORPGs through my boyfriend (now husband), since I could check out a game first by watching him...then decide if I liked how it looked and played, as well as check out its online community.

I grew up with Atari and arcade games, and Lode Runner on a Franklin Ace. But I didn't become more computer-savvy until after college, when I started working at companies that required use of computers. Hence I hadn't been exposed to the world of online gaming. During my teens and 20s, the world I delved into was punk music (which interestingly was kind of similar to gaming, in its smaller % of females to men and more male-centric world).

I know others have mentioned this in some ways above... I totally agree that a lot of younger women do not get into games, since development & marketing is totally aimed at males not females. How often do you see commercials or ads that show girls or young women playing? The only females you see are the busty scantily clad animated characters :P In addition since MMORPG is a computer-based realm, and girls just are not as encouraged in science/technology as much as would seem to follow that less females would initially get enticed into playing computer games. NOTE: I know many very technically-literate women, however from working in an IT world I know it's still more male-dominated (as well as more encouraged and accepted for men).

It would be good to see what other activities women do besides gaming, and note them according to different points in their lives. Actually, if I had been more exposed to online games and better computers earlier... I probably would have played, especially games that are more strategy/quest based.

While available time may be part of the equation, it also has to do with how folk CHOOSE to spend their time. My husband and I work full-time jobs and have no kids, but choose to spend a lot of our free time online gaming. Our work is much more intensive than when we were in our 20s, thus going out seems less interesting or possible. We have been together for over 5 years, so instead of going out to a lot of movies or sitting around watching some dumb television show, more time is spent playing games together. Also many of our friends now have babies, so there are less group social activities (i.e., parties or dinners, etc.).

Anyhow I find this topic very interesting, and I know there's numerous factors that play into these stats.

btw: For myself, I did much more "dating" in my early 30s than in my 20s. I think assuming women in their 20s are just out busy dating is really misleading. Anyhow if one assumed heterosexual dating, that would mean these women are out with some man, therefore he isn't busy gaming either :P

Posted by: kc on July 8, 2005 12:15 PM

I am a female who began playing a long time after I turned 30. Basically I got into online gaming because I was checking servers my son might visit and play on.

I got hooked on the games themselves when I found I needed a distraction after becoming a single parent. So....stuck at home in long evenings, got a job which is very satisfying and full of people interraction, but wanting complete diversion when having lots of free time at home. Online gaming fits the bill. I may not be the oldest female player but rest assured we wrinklies don't do it because we are sad-have-no-RL-relationships type people. We play because its so much damn fun! Lol.
We have worked all our lives, been married, had kids, been responsible adults - now WE have some fun. :D

Posted by: OddWan on September 24, 2005 8:28 AM

I dont know if it means anything, but there seem to be more comments on this page from women then men. Not sure if this is a statistic in itself? Are women gamers more interested in MMO statistics than men?

[WOW M 28]

Posted by: everygamer on November 8, 2005 12:32 PM

thts true it seems to be women more interested or maybe they just want to learn about it more... check out this bbc news site

....its about a guy in china who was murdered because he sold another guys virtual sword..

Posted by: lisa on December 5, 2005 2:07 AM

All of the above comments are most interesting. I'm wondering if the upsurge in women 35+ gettin' into the MMO/RPG's is the result of our hitting an age when we know what we like, know what we hate, and we're comfortable and socially established enough to admit it, whereas the majority of the men I know of similar elderliness seem MORE in thrall to societal expectations of them.
I've got as many friends as I can be bothered with, a boyfriend who's more a liability than an asset, and I take great pleasure in caning his bot, comparatively, at console and online RPG's (though we don't play "together" as such). I am the game and console-buyer in the house. I worry seriously about my compulsion to play these wretched things to the exclusion of all else, though. I DO have time, because I work as an illustrator from home, which is pretty cushy, but when I get an assignment that might actually help me pay the rent, eat ie. live an ACTUAL life, I regard it as a hideous imposition and an obscene, rude waste of gaming time. Something is somewhere wrong. Men seem to be able to justify all of these lost hours. I can't. Not quite.
However, I find this pastime far more noble, or at least less destructive, than the next most "fascinating" female hobby ie. breeding. Gawd. I'd rather train a worg any day.

Posted by: Alison on May 2, 2006 7:58 AM

I just wanted to post because Im in the 27.9% catagory of female gamers (I'm 27). I've played alot of games growing up (pnp larps etc) and started out on pc games by the time I was 16. I married someone who also games and prefers mmorgs due to them having more content than single player games. He falls into the minority of over 35+ gamers. He simply just does not have the time to play as much as I do being that I am a sahm to a little girl who is at school during the day. He works (sucker! hehe). My two cents is it's other sahms like me who have children in school and were forced into some new mmorg by their mate (forced is probably not a good word but lol).

Posted by: Kelli on June 11, 2006 10:49 AM

I'm a 21 year old female and I'd have to say that I game and I play FPS for the most part. I do it because I like it and I know quite a few friends who do as well. Perhaps it's just because it's a college pasttime but most of us weren't introduced to it by our significant others.... well if we even have them.

Posted by: Miriya on June 18, 2006 3:06 AM

I am looking for a beta testing job that I can do at home, I have been playing games for several years now and am good at finding things that are wrong with them and ways to work around the problems. I would like to put this skill to good use.

Posted by: Dian Molin on July 9, 2006 12:47 AM

One thought I have is that (as a 42 year old female college biology professor who plays WoW), I think women students on average are more serious about school these days than male. It seems like a higher number of my traditional-college-aged female students are "nose to the grindstone types" with few hobbies outside of school, and many of these "serious" young women are creative, imaginitive and independent types (rather than those obsessed with being popular)who would possibly be interested in gaming. Much of the modern fantasy fiction market is dominated by female authors and aimed at female readers, so there is a female interest in the kinds of themes found in these games. Maybe once some of these creative, independent and intelligent (but oh so hardworking) young women are done with school, some start following their interests in fantasy themes into the world of MMORPGs.

As for the men, many of the male players in my WoW guild are late teen or twenty something college or grad students. Some of them spend so much time online during the school year that I wonder how they can be passing their classes. Maybe some of the men who are so into computer gaming in college eventually burn out (or quit because they finally "get serious" about school or work and being "good providers"). But I am just guessing here. There are some 30 somethings and forty somethings and even one fifty something male in my WoW guild.

It would be interesting if there was a way to reach large samplings of people who don't play these games and find out why. Especially people who have interests that could lead them in that direction (like reading fantasy or sci fi or in tabletop gaming) but have resisted the temptation to get into the online gaming world. Of course the developers and marketers of these games would be thrilled to increase the numbers of underrepresented groups in their games.

Posted by: Erica on August 6, 2006 2:56 PM

This a rather fascinating subject I must say. I am a male gamer, age 33. I have played video games and done RPG's for the better part of my years on the planet (over 2 decades worth, ouch that makes me feel old). I have always been very socially active and always found time to game. The guild I belong to in WoW is comprised of friends from RL across the country. We range in age from 25 to 35, our education ranges from none to techincal schooling to advanced degrees. Our incomes range from lower income to upper income.

I am not sure if these statics are the norm or even effect the study, but I find it interesting that people from such varied backgrounds find these kinds of game so enthralling.

I personally enjoy the strategy aspect of WoW (since the RPGing element of Wow is as lacking aswater in Death Valley). It is fun to link up with my friends and take down the instances, over come the other teams in BG, and explore a richly constructed world (as well as goofing off with low-brow humor anytime we can).

I am very excited by Simutronics new MMORPG "Heroes Journey" as it will combine all the fun of Wow's strategy gaming with TRUE RPG aspects. I feel these kinds of games are healthy releases of fustration, they stimulate the mind, and are over all benefical for the players as long as they realkise it is only a GAME and do NOT let it come between themselves and real life. But sadly, as with most RPG styled games, they get a bad rap due to the fact people with other problems bring those issues to the game. So many parent groups have been against RPGs since the days of D&D because kids that were troubled in RL.

Anyways, hope some of what I babbled about was useful.

Posted by: Clownshoes on September 2, 2006 11:38 AM

Market research from MSN games would support Constance's theory. Their highest consumer demographic is at-home moms.

Posted by: Paul on September 5, 2006 7:47 AM

This is so interesting!
I am a 34 year old professional woman who loves playing WoW. I have a young son so I can't just pick up and go out in the evenings to do RL gaming for 3-6 hours at a stretch (which I also loved when I was younger), so this satisfies my gaming desires.

Posted by: Raven's Star on October 5, 2006 4:50 AM

Does anybody know from which year the above statistic is? Is there an up to date one? Thank you

Posted by: Teutonicus on October 16, 2006 1:06 PM

32 yr old female here. Started playing mmorpgs (EQ was my first) about 4 years ago. Even before the stats were listed I was aware that the majority of females who played were over 25. I read online somewhere recently that the average age of mmo'rpg players, covering both M and F was age 33. It makes sense to me. And I much prefer it that way. You can usually pick out the young teens, especially in EQ. WoW .. not so much.. especially on Alliance side.. about every other NE or Paladin I run into is a young kid.. very annoying.

I will continue to play mmorpgs (health and finances willing) for years to come. Wish I had found my starting game sooner.. it would have kept me out of a lot of trouble back then! =)

Posted by: Lykopis on December 4, 2006 2:46 PM

Also.. should mention I started playing console games pretty young. Atari 2600 .. onto Nintendo, Sega and Playstation. Stopped for quite a few years then later was turned on to EQ (2001 I think) by someone. Been in mmorpgs ever since.

Posted by: Lykopis on December 4, 2006 2:54 PM

I am a female gamer 48 years old. I started playing games as a child with my family, card games, board games, we were all into it. lol I found D&D in the 70's and loved it (I have also always loved SciFi and Fantasy books so that may help). I have loved computers from the first so of course I had to game on those too. I first had an Atari 2600 and then I got my beloved Commodore 64 (I LOVED Q-Bert!). And then I moved from Diablo, Age of Empires and Warcraft into mmo's with Asheron's Call in 2000. And from there I have played and/or beta tested over 20 (at least) mmo's. I was hooked. Oh and btw I was married and worked full time when I started AC, am now divorced (no the gaming had nothing to do with it :p), still work full time and still play with DDO being my current mmo! ;)

Posted by: Lissette on December 7, 2006 11:43 AM

I am a 32 year old female. My boyfriend bought be WoW a year ago because he and his friends played it. I tryed a lot of different video/PC/MMO games since and enjoyed all of them to some extent.

I would never have bought a game if I didn't date a gamer. It seemed like a waste of time. I worked a lot instead, spending part of what free time I had going out to meet people, which seemed safer than meeting people online.

Women I know seem to start playing MMOs either to meet people or because their family members/best friends/boyfriend introduced them to the game.

Posted by: April on January 31, 2007 3:35 PM

I would like to find the reasons behind such preferences. Why do most women prefer night-elfs?

I'm female (24) and my first character was a Night Elf male druid. Mainly because I had to roll an alliance character to play with my friends. Also I thought his figure/voice was attractive, thought the start-up area was beautiful, and I liked the idea of becoming animals. After a few months this guy became a rarely used banker. I couldn't play him acceptably well in groups and got tired of looking like everyone else. Night elves are now one of my least favorite races. EVERYONE is a night elf, it seems, and they all seem to think they are special. Why? They look like rabbits. My favorite character became an Undead female priest (when I must play alliance my main is a female dwarf priest). I think priests are the easiest to play, I enjoy keeping groups alive, and for some reason, I love the Undeads' dark story. I love that they must be ugly. And I enjoy being in the minority. I wonder what other people's reasons are.

Also, it would be interesting to see which demographics prefer Horde or Alliance (and which have switched or play both) and why. I innitially rolled Alliance because my friends/boyfriend played Alliance. But I preferred the Horde and switched. I didn't like being pretty and playing with pretty people. Over time, I concluded the Horde players seem nicer and seem to enjoy playing the game more than socializing. Horde players seem less egotistical and seem to handle disappointments better. Horde guilds seem to be more supportive and have less drama. But that's just from my observation. Some of my best friends refuse to play Horde because they DON'T want to play with ugly people. Perhaps because it's too much like real life?

Posted by: Dawn on February 1, 2007 12:15 PM

I'm reading T.L. Taylor's book: "Play between worlds" and I was starting to read her chapter on women and it seems that the proportion of women in MMOG has risen since the last time the daedalus project last data on demographics. In your current survey or study, did your demographic has changed accordingly? And do you know a good website that keeps tracks of MMOG demographics?

Posted by: janarius on February 20, 2007 10:25 AM

Hey Janarius - The age and gender stats actually haven't changed much over the past few years with regards to the fantasy MMOs as far as I can tell from my surveys (which is one reason I haven't updated those numbers). Does T.L. mention data in her book that shows otherwise?

Posted by: Nick Yee on February 20, 2007 11:39 AM

yes, the data comes from PC Data Online saying that about 20-30% of players are women with regards to Asheron's Call, Everquest and Ultima Online. It seems she got the info from The New York Times, entitled Men are from Quake, women are from Ultima. (2001)

Posted by: Janarius on February 21, 2007 9:08 AM

Hey Janarius - Thanks for the ref. What's interesting is that the reference date pre-dates the data here. So even though T.L.'s book came out in 2006, she's citing data from 2001, which is earlier than the 2003 data here.

But the other thing is that in the article itself, the way they came up with the 20-30% is via informal estimation by the game companies. They didn't do any surveys or even ask any players. It was just their guess.

Actual surveys of MMO players have consistently shown a much lower percentage of female players. For example, in Ted Castronova's book, "Synthetic Worlds", his survey showed only a 7.8% of female players in EQ. See also surveys from Project Massive and Mark Griffiths, which have tended to reflect a female percentage that is around the 12-16% range.

Posted by: Nick Yee on February 21, 2007 10:56 AM

As a woman 35+ I have to say it's more the fact that I've always been a gamer. I didn't do it for a guy, or a fad, I did it because I truly love to game. And now it's ok for me to game. Back in the 70s and 80s I was never told that I couldn't game but it was implied. I think more "gamer girls" are coming out of the closet in their later years and telling their daughters it's ok to game too. My daughter and I like to kill stuff together all the time. It's a real bonding experience for us.

Posted by: Kiarakaye on April 24, 2007 3:39 PM

I'm one of those "younger female" MMORPG gamers and practically all of my other "younger female" friend play these sort of games.
I think it's more of the type of game it is that attracts players of different genders. Say for example a game like Maple Story which goes for more of a "cute" game would attract more female players than a game like World of Warcraft.
It's all a matter of preferance (and peer pressure)

Posted by: sekishi on May 15, 2007 8:47 AM

you have to consider that online gaming is a relatively new pastime, and that as it moves more into the mainstream and loses more of the negative stereotypes (all gamers are geeks; gamer girls are all fat and ugly; there are no real girls on the internet), then so too will more people take to this as a viable hobby.

and as things become more mainstream, then so too do the groups that choose to be part of this subculture ...first starting with the stereotypes (geeks) then through to general population (non-geek males first), and THEN to females - who have a notoriously bad time on the internet proving that they are a) indeed a female and b) if they truly are female they are then not fat and ugly.

it takes time for a culture to grow into being comfortable with new things.

Posted by: angela on July 21, 2007 10:21 PM

I am a female gamer, though I mainly play World of Warcraft. I believe a lot of the theories here are right on, and some not so much. It is not that women have more to do at the younger ages, it is that women before were not the target customer for video game developers.

For example: Many girls who grow up with older brothers become more interested in video games because that is what the ones they look up to are interested in. Those games were designed for boys to play. I am one who went through this scenario, I grew up on Mario Kart and the Super Nintendo.

I found this topic because I am working on a research paper that is meant to persuade more women to play video games.

I believe that it is incorrect to think that women do not play video games because they see it "beneath them." I think it has a lot to do with the views of society and our older generations. I know that I get a lot of grief from my grandmother for playing video games. Older folks tend to believe that computers and video games are a waste of time because they "went without them and turned out all right." The truth is, they are becoming part of our lives and the more we are discouraged by older folks to use them, the harder it is for us to accept that it's okay.

From my point of view, being in the younger range of girls, I think that women tend to believe video games are for men and not something we should be interested in. This is why the gaming market is so eager to hire female designers. They want women in on the action, all ages and all types. I know for a fact that I love it when there are other women playing WoW with me since there seems to be only one female for every 100 males that play the game.

Posted by: Kristen on August 16, 2007 1:13 AM

his is a contrast I noticed when I was playing rpg's via irc chat. The male players tended to be late teens/early 20s while the female players tended to be in their 30s and 40s. I have a theory about why this is, but it's hard to tell if it would stand up to testing. My theory simplified for quick statement is this: idealized males (for mating purposes) are the ones in their 30s and 40s while idealized females are in their late teens and twenties.

Posted by: ihh on September 9, 2007 1:35 PM

I seem to recall reading that females tend to be brought into gaming by a significant other: mainly boyfriend and husband. Most people do not form significant relationships, where it is important to get the other party into your hobby, until they are older. Therefore, men are bringing their girlfriends and wives into online gaming. Females do not generally tend to come into gaming in their teens, but in their twenties and even 30s, when their boyfriend or husband introduces them to the game.

I am a bit different. My son brought me into online gaming when he was 15 and I was 45. Having a child bring you into the game makes one skew even older.

I believe what you are seeing is the result of a different mode of introduction and a reflection of the fact that gaming companies are doing a very poor job of appealing to females directly. Gaming companies are not making games appealing enough to draw women in directly. They instead are brought in by a BF or husband who wants to get his gf/wife involved so she won't resent his gaming.

Look at what a poor job World of Warcraft has done in incorporating features that tend to appeal to women. You cannot change your appearance. Random armor drops tend to make a low level toon look ludicrous. There is no housing and no hint of housing on the horizon. There are no creative outlets like one found in UO or SWG to create interesting items out of ordinary items (a grand piano out of black shirts and chess boards for example). At every turn where they could have added a feature that would have a bit of appeal to women, they chose not to. Think how successful they could be if the game which appeals so broadly to males incorporated features designed to aid harried males in bringing their significant other into the game.

Posted by: Niamb on September 24, 2007 9:55 AM

I was introduced to mmorpgs by my son who was living in another state. He was in his late 20s and I was in my early 50's.

Gaming was a way for me to stay in touch with him on a regular basis and gave us something to do together.

Today I am 60 and my son is in his mid 30s. He lives across town from me, but we still play together, almost nightly along with his live-in girlfriend. We even plan our character's classes to complement each other.

I first played EQ, then migrated to EQ2 without my son, migrated to WoW and then Vanguard. My attitude has changed over the years, from leveling and hard-core raiding with the eventual burn-out, to a much more relaxed playstyle.

Posted by: Gisela on October 23, 2007 11:12 AM

I'm a 33 year old female gamer, and I made my boyfriend play wow with me, not the other way around.
I play because I live in a cold country, and it's just now that online gaming is getting really mainstream.

Posted by: mia on January 7, 2008 6:26 AM

I'm a 21 year old female and have been playing for two years. The time factor is a big thing for me as I am in uni, have a bf and play on a women's soccer team. between classes and daily happenings I can't always make coffee dates with friends, but my WoW friends are always there to talk to while i study. They are also a source of de-stress for me. I actually make time ( monday and wednesday nights)to stay in contact with my guild, because I enjoy the game and value their company. ( my bf introdueced me to the game and then quit soon after :P )

Posted by: Bree on June 24, 2008 3:59 PM

Im 25 year old gamer, female and tried of males thinking they own the gaming world. WOW is the first MMOG I have played…for about a year and a half...but computer games have been apart of my life since the good old Commodore 64 and Sega. Although, I gained greater exposure from the endless hours of watching my brother play every PC game under the sun, I generally was unable to play much due to the single computer within the house. As such, I could only really play when I could sneak in time when my brother wasn't on the computer. I begged him to get UO, but said it was a waste of time cause of all the servers being in the state (im in Australia) and the old computer we had. As I got older and went to uni, time and money was always an issue, but I managed to get into a couple of Counter Strike sessions when I could con one of the guys off their computer. Now that I finally have the dosh, I got a top end computer (much to the jealousy of my bf) and play happily away when I can.

So after my long winded spill, I just would like to agree with the comments made that there used to be a general lack of encouragement for girls to participate with computers (as it only really more recently that computers and/or internet have become a lot more affordable). Also, that as this earlier perception has now relax somewhat, there are now more girls/women 'coming out of the woodwork' as they can more freely engage with and participate in the gaming community..Without guys insinuating that the only appliances that women should be dealing with is in the kitchen. Its great to see more female participation...I got sick of being the only female in an all night Counter Strike events... :P

Posted by: Rel on September 22, 2008 7:43 PM

In response to Rel, I want to make a point about Counter-Strike and Ultima Online.

I'm just returning to Ultima Online after two years away from it (I didn't have the time or an internet connection) and I wish I could say to you that UO is one of the best examples of MMOs where women are always welcome. Unlike every-single-other fantasy MMO out there, UO doesn't use rigid and narrowly defining classes, races and levels to define your power and worth as a person. It uses percentile based skills you can train in any combination.

Want to be the mightiest dragon slaying chef gardener in Sosaria? No problem. In Sosaria, you'll soon find that people respect you for your accomplishments. Not for what's between your legs.

UO practically encourages personality as well. I knew a guy who used to play as a gay paladin scourge of the undead. (With the emphasis on gay. He used to ride into combat wearing a wedding dress and a human skull.)

Also, it uses a 2D 'paperdoll' UI to represent your character and the portraits are elegant and versatile. So no pneumatically enhanced upper torsos for all you laydeez then.

I played UO for six years from 1999 and it was like another home for me. In point of fact, I've made RL friends through it.

But.... I WISH I could recommend it to you right now. After years of corrosive abuse at the hands of EA, Ultima Online is a shadow of its former glory. I'd say give it a shot but be prepared to meet a lot of oldies moaning about 'the good old days'.

As for Counter-Strike... nine years on and not one official woman character model. Never mind the smacktalking twelve year old boys, you can't even get the developers to approve your gender.
That's why I gave up on it.

Posted by: Stiabhna on September 24, 2008 1:19 PM

Can You Please tell me what is ging to happen to
Daealus in a few years time and show show me pictures of what it was like in the early 70's.
Thanks Again Dan

Posted by: Daniel Guy on January 29, 2009 9:18 AM

I'm a 49 year old female that just started playing WoW about 3 months ago. My son played it in his high school years and still plays it some now that he is working on his PhD. I think the escapism part of the game is powerful, but I'm wondering about the neurophysiology. Perhaps women's eye-hand coordination and neuro-processing of images develops differently. Also, it's impossible here to separate the effects of biology and life stage development from culture. The marketing argument is pretty hard to beat. BTW, I play now because I am living alone in a foreign country and while I love my job it only lasts about 50 hours a week, and I could only fill up so much time reading, watching tv, volunteering, and socializing in RL. LOL. I'm definitely an immersion/exploration player. And I don't have any trouble finding men who think I'm attractive, no matter what the mass media brainwash us to believe about the aging female and her love life.

Posted by: Mikaila on February 5, 2010 12:49 PM

Well I guess thats not too surprising, teenage guys typically like video games and I guess teenage girls typically like make-up and celebrities and all that, I suppose they 'grow out' of it and find interest in other things once they get to adulthood. I'm actually just within the 12-17 bracket, hehehe, just 4% of female players!? :]

Posted by: Beth on March 30, 2010 5:04 PM

I do't understand what the N equals in he graph. It doesn't make much sense.

Posted by: Stark on May 14, 2010 8:10 AM

I am a 60 old male and I been playing this game since 2006 and my wife began a year after I started playing. I play because I have a a lot of time on hands and also I am disable veteran. My wife has disabilities too. My wife is 47 years old.

Posted by: BigBry on May 25, 2010 9:24 AM
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