Quantic Foundry researcher and long-time MMO academic Nick Yee has an intriguing blog post out this week titled Dispelling Myths about Female Gamers in which he purports to do just that. Yee has been shuffling the data from over 300,000 submissions to the Gamer Motivation Model project to see what they reveal about female gamers. “Over and over again, we have noticed that cursory examinations of the data often support a gender-normative narrative,” he writes, “but diving deeper into the data reveals far more surprising (and interesting) relationships between gender and gameplay.”
For example, consider the lazy stereotype that women are innately averse to violence or competition in online games, a claim often used to dismiss female-dominated games as casual or not “real” games.
“At first glance, gaming motivations among men and women seem to align with gender stereotypes: Men are primarily motivated by competition and destruction, while women’s primary motivations are completion and fantasy. But this is only part of the story. For example, consider competition—the motivation that varies the most between male and female gamers – for which, it turns out, age accounts for twice the statistical variance than gender does. Or, to put it another way, the delta in the appeal of competition between younger men and older men is much bigger than the delta between men and women.”
Sorry, dudes — if anything is “ruining” gaming, it’s the fact that you’re getting old, not that games are taking the ladies’ gameplay motivations into account. (Not really, though; it’s greed that’s the problem, not gender at all.) In fact, as Yee points out, Overwatch, which overtly offers diversity in its playable heroes, boasts a significantly higher proportion of female players than other titles in its subgenre (and is making more money than god).
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Quantic published a similar piece back in January focusing on MMORPGs specifically. It noted that according to the data collected, World of Warcraft’s female playerbase is actually smaller than the overall MMORPG average, which might surprise you (or not, if you read our recent toxicity editorial). But the most intriguing revelation from January was the fact that Star Wars: The Old Republic has almost double the sci-fi MMO genre average for female player participation and is almost single-handedly propping up sci-fi against fantasy, shooting another hole in the tired old idea that women avoid MMOs like EVE Online like the plague purely out of some inherent dislike of sci-fi.