In 2022, 48% of all gamers in the world are female, more of a level playing field than ever before. Even in the major traditional markets of the US and Asia, female gamers make up over 40% of the market.
These figures are incredible when you take into account the traditional gaming images and gender roles they overturn. As in most environments, equality between the genders does not yet exist in gaming, but we are getting closer.
It has not been an easy path, with female gamers facing many blockages and significant discrimination from the outset. Even today, only five percent of video games offer female protagonists, while most female characters created are over-romantic interests.
Added to this, research surrounding the Gamergate controversy of 2014 showed female players were often harassed or excluded. While this is improving, it is still an ongoing issue for female gamers, as it is in most areas of society.
Still, strides in equality are being made every day, and the successes of this in gaming should be celebrated. To have reached a situation where almost half of all gamers are female is a significant achievement.
So, what is drawing female players to gaming, and is the attraction different than it is for males?
Recent studies have shown that female players are engaging in almost all genres of games, but some preferences do exist. 33% of women enjoy puzzle games, compared to 20% of men, while almost a third more men prefer open-world games.
Research has also suggested that the reason for playing is, in general, subtly different between male and female gamers.
According to Forbes, men use video games to ease stress, pass the time, and to compete against others. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be motivated by challenging themselves, or for social reasons.
A significant finding from studies into the rise of female gaming is the device of preference for women players. An estimated 94% of women play games on a mobile phone, while only 70% use PCs and 59% use consoles.
It is these final statistics that most clearly highlight the gaming niches that are proving most popular with female audiences. Puzzle games, for instance, are easy to play on mobiles, while open-world games are better experienced on PCs and consoles.
Another favorite of mobile players is an online casino, with the best providers recommended by expert guides such as Gambling.com. The transition of this type of game to online has generated a huge boom in its popularity with female players.
Despite efforts made by modern operators, many women still feel unsafe in the male-dominated environments of land-based casinos. Similarly, outdated traditions and gender roles mean amateur poker sessions are still commonly played by exclusively male parties.
Online casinos can be played almost anywhere, meaning female players can choose their own safe environment from which to join. This, combined with the option to remain anonymous online, has helped create a security female players have never experienced before.
As a result, more women are playing slots, poker, roulette, blackjack, bingo, and others than ever have before. Women have even begun to see gaming, including casinos, as a potential career opportunity, sometimes earning huge amounts.
Today, some of the most prominent professional gamers in the world are women. Innovations including streaming, eSports, and game vlogging have created new revenue streams that pioneering women have rushed to engage with.
Here are some of the most successful and famous female gamers in the world today:
- Kasumi Chan
In a career spanning two decades, the US player whose real name is Marjorie Bartell has amassed over $55,000. Chan is ranked 1558 in the world after achieving great success with the fighting game Dead or Alive 4.
- Ricki Ortiz
A female-identifying transgender player, Ortiz first found fame playing Marvel vs Capcom 2 at the Evolution Championship Series 2003. 61 tournaments later, Ortiz is ranked 1111 in the world and has earned more than $80,000.
The US gamer Katherine Gunn has only competed a few times – in 2007, 2008, and 2010. She plays a variety of games, including Dead or Alive 4 and Halo: Reach and has earned over $122,000.
With earnings of over $296,000, Sasha Hostyn is officially the highest-paid female pro gamer in the world. Scarlett plays, and wins, at the incredibly competitive game: Starcraft II – usually as the character Zerg.
- Anette Obrestad
Obrestad began playing poker online in the mid-2000s, winning almost $1 million across various sites. She then moved to offline tournaments, winning another million at the World Series of Poker Europe on her 19th birthday.
- Kirsten Bicknell
While in college, Bicknell began playing poker online, where she became known as “The Ultimate Grinder”. Between 2011 to 2013, she played an estimated total of 7.5 million poker hands.
Since 2018, she has built a reputation as one of the best female poker players in the world. Bicknell’s earnings so far today are estimated to be in the region of $5 million.
In line with opportunities as professional gamers, the gender disparity in game development is also slowly becoming more balanced. As we have said, the battle for equality in gaming is far from over, but things are looking better.
What will the next big stride in the world of female gaming be? We can’t wait to find out!