Canadian Vending

Features Consumer Behaviour Trends
From the Editor: November 2005

The Forgotten Player


June 12, 2008
By Cam Wood


Topics

The gaming industry is poised for a significant boom … at least that’s what the experts overseas are predicting.

The gaming industry is poised for a significant boom … at least that’s what the experts overseas are predicting.

Many operators may not see the future as being that bright, given the past experience of no-smoking legislation, SARS, and fear-mongering over the avian flu. However, there is some movement towards enhanced profits and gaming, with the secret answer resting somewhere in half of the population.

What we’re talking about here is putting a big focus on getting more female gamers into the mix.
In North America, it’s not hard to see why the female player has been somewhat under-estimated. The top games in the market seemingly arrive on location with a healthy jolt of testosterone. Driving games, hunting games, even the golf games, all have a broader appeal to men than women.

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A recent examination of a Canadian gaming event had a male-to-female player ratio of 40:1.
Marketing on-site is tied to the North American male’s psyche, beer company tie-ins, promo girls … all of which is strategic and proven, but may leave out real money-making opportunities.

According to a recent European study, women prefer less violence, less complication and a significantly reduced learning curve. They favour role-playing, puzzles and games where their pixelized counterparts are not dressed in some pseudo-stripper gear.

Add to that – and let’s be frank here – the environments in which many games currently operate lean strongly in favour of the machismo set.

In the home game market, women account for 66 per cent of the buyers. It could be about convenience, parental control and the other factors associated with the rise of home gaming. Or could also be partly about an amusement choice that isn’t as intimidating as a coin-op facility.

However, as we see in this issue, research has shown that the male gamer demographic has been completely saturated. Future growth – both in players and the coin box – will rely strongly on birth rates for individual countries.

Which means, operators should now be looking to what will bring in better profits. And they should also be considering quite strongly, how to engage a relatively untapped player market.

In August, attendees to the Women In Games Conference heard what made the classic games classic was that they were gender-neutral. Pong, Breakout, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Frogger and Tetris each had high female player ratios.

Game developers may claim these simplistic designs, with their low-res graphics, are things of the past. But, we must explore the appeal of what can become of these offerings. If women gamers are clearly stating they don’t want complicated controls, large learning curves and difficult action games, how can our industry not pay attention.

Women want to be engaged, and they want to experience the same thrills, camaraderie and social environment as men. And where women gather, men usually follow.

If the coin-op industry wants to target ways to stem the losses over the aforementioned market challenges, one way might be to explore methods to double their returns by offering engaging games on-site for half the population not currently playing.

A leap of faith? Absolutely.

But so is any relationship involving two sexes.


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