The Sims has sold over 40 million copies, and some reports say that 60-70% of players are women. Girls have frequently been said as enjoying “social” games, games with good storylines, and games that support creativity. “Pink” software titles have been produced — in some cases with great success — such as Barbie Fashion Designer, a huge seller in 1997 that outsold Quake and Myst. However, do titles that rely on traditional female stereotypes necessarily good for gender equity? Or do these games partly contribute to a self fulfilling prophecy where society perpetuates the stereotype that girl gamers are only of a certain type?
Food for thought: 39% of all gamers are women according to the Entertainment Software Association (2004). In fact, more women over 18 are now playing games than young boys between the ages 6 and 17 (26% compared to 21%). Games like World of Warcraft, with many elements that can be characterized as male (e.g. fighting), have an estimated 30% female players. Maybe game designers and researchers shouldn’t be so quick to decide how girls will play games.