Marketing MMORPGs to Women

There is a discussion going on my Crimson Eagles message boards spawned by the article I mention in The Holy Grail regarding marketing MMORPGs to women. A fellow gamer writes:

I think the female population is left in the dust. From a marketing perspective and a financial perspective, itd be superb to get the female demographic into things like WoW, or gaming in general. [..] Advertising would help but I think it may still be a bit premature for girls to become fully integrated into the gaming society. This is more of a mentality issue than anything else.

One research paper I read found exactly what Carmella was talking about. Carmella said guys and girls both give her funny looks when she talks about WoW. This may be partly because girls seem to have the mentality that they perceive themselves to have peer approval for moderate amounts of game while boys think that it is ok to play ‘a lot’ of video games, and that the popular boys played these video games. [..]

Im digressing. On advertising to a specific demographic, I am with Carmella and think shes onto something. Research has shown that girls are more likely than boys to choose fantasy violence games as favorites (Buchman and Funk (1996)). To me that is an awesome finding that would justify advertising WoW to the female population! I think its wonderful to have this coexistence of both sexes in the game. It provides for a better environment in my opinon. The dynamic of play in all senses is defiantly improved and I think it kinda levels the playing field a bit too. [..] Actually, in my opinion i think most girls are better at playing their character than guys (this is contrary to what researchers say when comparing competency at videogames between genders (Blumberg, Sokol (2004)).

In conclusion, I suppose that as time progresses and the male and female socialization stabilizes, a larger advertising initiative would have the most impact.

Carmella, a major female gamer (that is higher level than me in WoW and much more experienced in MMORPGs) responds with the following:

From my own experience, a lot of women dont really know how to react to the game phenomena. Once we organized a [dinner for 30+ folks] in the area. Some men had brought their GF’s around, their first reflex was to come toward me so they could talk about everyday stuff. When they realized I came as a player wanting to discuss strategies, behavior totally changed. I think part of it might come from the old reflex of ‘What is unknown and undiscovered for a person can become scary’.

As we can see, MMORPGs are becoming increasingly more popular to the world at large (World of Warcraft in particular). These games are now appealing to the masses rather than the small sub-groups of geeks that have been pocketed around the country for years. When I play WoW or discuss WoW in a group setting, I find that more and more women 1) have heard of it and 2) have played it.

These games are morphing into more than simply games…but social software and communication tools. As we see them grow, what effect will they have on the female population? The Sims Online is a good example of a game that is marketed more towards the female population than the male. When will we see game companies begin marketing towards women as much as towards men? I feel the time is fast approaching….Men still out number women in the gaming scene, but those numbers are beginning to balance.

The Holy Grail

I’m a geek…I play World of Warcraft and am part of a guild. A lot of time has gone into the game. What does a lot of time mean? Well, lets just say I am nearing 1,000 hours! So that brings me to the point of this post…I was directed to this article at Tom’s Hardware that details what the true ‘Holy Grail’ is all about. Here’s the gist:

The Grail I speak of is not the cup of Christ that bestows eternal life, but rather something sought after by young men the world over. I speak of the Attractive Female Gamer. A woman who not only possesses the desirable attributes necessary to attract members of the opposite sex, but who also shares the deep love that some of us have for videogames.

Yup. So true. To a gamer geek (specifically of the mmorpg variety), a woman that has the same interests is a truly blessed thing to date/marry yet exceedingly rare! Now, as the article states, a woman that enjoys Solitaire, Bejeweled, Minesweeper, etc is NOT what we’re talking about here…its the woman that plays MMORPGs and fully understands it.

“What’s the big deal?” some of you may ask. Well, when you live with a woman, her needs can conflict with the needs of the game. We all know the game needs to be played. How else are we going to procure the “phat lewts”? So imagine a woman who not only understands the needs of the game, but is as much a slave to it as we are. She knows the reward that comes with countless hours at the keyboard. She understands that sometimes you just have to eat dinner at the computer because your party is counting on you to heal. She will burn a vacation day in order to play when the server is less crowded. In short, she gets it.

My wife (at least for a time) was the Holy Grail for a looong time. She played WoW as much as me and we often wandered around the world of Azeroth together earning m4d l00t and picking on n00bs. Sadly, her work schedule has drastically changed causing a damper on our gaming co-existence. Hopefully, given time, she will dive back in and understand my drive to play once more! So if you’re a male gamer and you find yourself dating/married to such a woman, know that she is a rare jewel to have and you should pamper and promote her gaming as much as possible! If you are a female gamer…you are a blessing to society and should be extremely vocal in your circle of friends and promote the ideas of slaying Onyxia and running Molten Core!