I don't have to tell any of you, but our industry is finally learning that Women Get in the Game
At CES this year, Microsoft Windows XP joined as a title sponsor of the Cyber X Games to support competitive gaming on the Windows platform and increase female gamer opportunities at the championships. Women will take part in the regular gaming tournaments, and can also enter the first ever Windows XP Female Pro Gaming Quake 3 Competition and the Windows XP Female Counter-Strike Team Event. US$20,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the top female gamer and female gaming team – the largest amount ever up for grabs.
"While Microsoft is excited about the many innovative game competitions that are flourishing on Windows XP, we also recognize that female gamers are a growing segment of the gaming market,” said Susan Kittleson, Windows Gaming product manager. "By signing on as a title sponsor, we’re showing our support for the growing number of women gaming on Windows -- and the substantial prizes for these new categories should help bring more contestants to Las Vegas."
According to a recent poll by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), women 18 years and older make up over a quarter (26 percent) of the overall gaming population – a bigger piece of the pie than boys aged 6 to 17, who represent 21 percent of all computer and video gamers. Looking specifically at gamers on the Windows platform, women make up 41.9 percent of the total audience, showing that Windows is a favorite platform for women gamers.
In an October 2003 Wall Street Journal article headlined “Where the Girls Are,” the newspaper noted that more and more dollars are being spent to target the female gamer with marketing pitches, advertising, online services and software. Microsoft, together with the rest of the gaming industry, is recognizing this changing demographic, and the company is actively looking for ways to get more women into gaming. Supporting such events as female-focused gaming competitions and continuously looking for qualified women to work in the Windows Graphics and Gaming Division are just a few movements within Microsoft focusing on women. Female gamers were also featured in three out of the four TV advertisements running this past holiday season for the Xbox video game system.
As the gaming industry grows, more women are getting exposure to games, and, in turn, more are getting serious about gaming. Case feels that as gaming technology advances, women find gaming much more accessible. “Games like ‘The Sims’ and ‘Zoo Tycoon’ are just the beginning in attracting women to more serious, large-scale games,” says Case.
“It’s also so encouraging to see girls growing up with technology as they are now,” she adds. “Surely we’ll see an increasing number of women (and a more diverse group overall) designing and creating games, which can only improve the gaming for all of us. We are finally ready to move out of the infancy of women as novelty in gaming to a much more exciting era of mainstream interactive entertainment.”