I've seen a lot of studies talking about how much women play games. I always come away thinking the results are 15-20% too delusional. For example, some studies show that females are 40% of the current gaming audience. 40% seems extremely high to me. Casual gaming surveys for the sort of games you get off Yahoo show a MAJORITY of women. Surveys always make me nervous, because they are crap. No survey can EVER get an accurate result. Maybe women are twice as likely to take surveys as men.
It's not that I have anything against women: I just haven't seen very many women gamers.
But today I went to GameWerks, a large arcade here in downtown Seattle. Friday, lunchtime. And I was surprised!
I would say that at minimum, a third of the children there were girls. We're talking the 13 and under crowd. Also, very few of the people, male or female, were of the physically repugnant stereotype most people think when they think "gamer".
It was a curiously bizarre experience, like going back to a shitty bar you stopped drinking at and finding it full of new-age art and well-dressed doctors. Even the adults in this place were not of the socially worthless kind of person you might expect.
The girls were still in the minority, and notably geeky people still in the majority, but when I was a kid, there was no minority or majority. It was universally male, and universally geeky.
I did notice that the girls were almost always accompanied by family, whereas with the boys of the same age it seemed common, but not universal. Which is interesting.
I also have to point out that this was at the nooning hour on a Friday, which means there is almost certainly a biased audience weighting. But even if it turns out that only 20% of the youth audience is generally female, that's still 10% higher than I thought yesterday.
By the way, it should be noted that 1:10 is about the right ratio for the "over 13" crowd there today.