Female Gamers: A closer look a the 'non-traditional' gamer


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Video games are big business, but can they be much bigger businesses? To do so requires the retention of existing players and the expansion of the player population beyond its historically core constituency of young men. Getting other demographics to engage the console experience may require modifying the product to fit the needs, interests, and issues of non-traditional players. The success of the Wii is an indicator of this shift away from technical superiority to more inclusive play experience. In this talk I will review our research conducted in the homes of a number of video playing households. These visits highlighted several important aspects about the use and conflicts that emerge around the console. Complementary research drawn from data generated by an online game discussion board offers additional insight into the challenges non-traditional gamers (such as women) face when engaging with male-centric content.

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  • Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me today. I’m going to talk about a topic that’s not only very interesting to me, but very important to me as a gamer.
  • Female Gamers: A closer look a the 'non-traditional' gamer

    1. 1. A closer look at the ‘non-traditional’ gamer Tracy Kennedy Microsoft Research - Community & Technologies Group Redmond, Washington
    2. 3. How many female gamers? <ul><li>ESA Stats 2005 </li></ul>
    3. 4. Overview <ul><li>Expanding the Gaming Market </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we get women interested in gaming and purchasing games? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Case Study: Home visits of families who game </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancing Game & Gamer Retention </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we keep women interested in playing a game & gaming in general? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Case Study: GamerchiX – an online gaming community of women </li></ul>
    4. 5. Expanding the Gaming Market <ul><li>Case Study: </li></ul><ul><li>Observations & Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Five home visits to local families </li></ul><ul><li>Parents early-mid 40s </li></ul><ul><li>Kids ages 9-14 </li></ul><ul><li>4 families had PS2, Xbox & Wii; 1 family only had Wii </li></ul><ul><li>Observe family gaming </li></ul><ul><li>Interview family members </li></ul>
    5. 6. Gaming Households
    6. 7. Parental perceptions of gaming
    7. 8. Parental Perceptions of Next Gen-Consoles <ul><ul><li>Xbox 360 ‘mature audience’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Nintendo Wii ‘great for kids’ </li></ul><ul><li>Sony PS3 ‘too expensive’ </li></ul>
    8. 9. How to appeal to different ages?
    9. 10. What motivates Moms to game? <ul><li>Spending time with kids is important! </li></ul><ul><li>*Picture from Xbox Forums – Community Events </li></ul>
    10. 11. Motivators for new Mom gamers <ul><li>Passive/Active Play </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sit and watch kids game (passive) as well as gaming with them (active) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Games that are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Short (time is always an issue) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to play (low learning curve) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More physical (such as Wii Sports) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fun! (laughing is important) </li></ul></ul>
    11. 12. Enhancing Game & Gamer Retention <ul><li>How do we keep women interested in playing a </li></ul><ul><li>game & gaming in general? </li></ul>
    12. 14. Case Study <ul><li>Xbox Live Forum </li></ul><ul><li>Started June 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>3000 Female Gamers </li></ul><ul><li>Private/Public </li></ul><ul><li>Membership Only </li></ul><ul><li>Moderated </li></ul>
    13. 15. XGX Manifesto
    14. 16. Gamer Glue <ul><li>June 19th 2007 ‘snapshot’ </li></ul><ul><li>410 topics posted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>11301 replies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>124686 views </li></ul></ul>
    15. 17. Game Glue <ul><li>Gaming Support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>48% of topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>200 topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6072 replies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hardware, good/bad games, game play suggestions (strategies), glitches, other gaming consoles (Wii, PlayStation etc) </li></ul>
    16. 18. Social Glue <ul><li>Relationship Building </li></ul><ul><ul><li>44% of posts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>179 topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4600 replies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>F2F Meetings, Interactive posts, Looking for friends, Introductions </li></ul>
    17. 19. Social Support <ul><li>Social Support: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>33 topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>629 replies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encouragement & Help for Offline Personal Issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Depression, Weight & Diet, Problems with spouses/partners & family members </li></ul></ul>
    18. 20. Harassment <ul><li>Verbal abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Porn photos & exhibitionism on webcams </li></ul><ul><li>Team killers (only kill the chicks!) </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusionary practices (booted from games) </li></ul><ul><li>Invites for cybersex </li></ul><ul><li>Harassment occurs : </li></ul><ul><li>During game play </li></ul><ul><li>Outside of game play (Lobbies) </li></ul><ul><li>In forums outside GamerchiX </li></ul>*cafepress.com
    19. 21. “Hey Ladies! I hope you can help me on this one. I'm being harassed by two guys that used to be on my friends list. They keep sending me friend requests over and over even after I decline them. They're even doing it with their alternate accounts. Is there any way at all for me to block them from sending me friend requests??? I've searched all over and I can't find a way to block them. This is day 3 of all this and it's getting quite annoying. I can't believe how childish some people are. =”
    20. 22. “ Well me and my friend were playing split screen on <gamertag> on GOW. A guy joins the room and I boot him since I was just about to invite my friend. The guy keeps coming back – about 3 times, and he sent me messages saying curse words and more. I message him and tell him - I’m not scared of you so leave me alone - He sends me a pic message with him holdin the xbox controller in one hand and a gun that’s real and its pointing to the camera, i immediately blocked communication with him, what should i do about this person?????????”
    21. 23. Barrier to social gaming
    22. 24. How does the community respond? <ul><li>Community Roles </li></ul><ul><li>Initiator </li></ul><ul><li>Replier </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid </li></ul><ul><li>Lurker </li></ul>
    23. 25. If you post it… they will answer <ul><li>Initiator </li></ul><ul><li>starts </li></ul><ul><li>threads </li></ul>
    24. 26. …another example <ul><li>Initiator </li></ul>
    25. 27. Replier <ul><li>Responds to </li></ul><ul><li>other’s posts </li></ul>
    26. 28. Hybrid <ul><li>post & </li></ul><ul><li>reply </li></ul>
    27. 29. Lurker <ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><li>from </li></ul><ul><li>afar? </li></ul>
    28. 34. “ I feel GamerchiX has encouraged us ladies to become more vocal and active on Xbox LIVE without having to worry about being hit on, cussed out or kicked out of a game just because we are girls.” “ GamerchiX has really given me an opportunity to meet some wonderful ladies. I've been online so much more than I was before and have become much more vocal when I game because I'm not afraid of getting talked down to.” “Girls of all ages and from all backgrounds have a safe environment to chat and play without fear of negative comments and remarks.” Community Matters!
    29. 35. Why is community so important to Female Gamers? <ul><li>Meeting people with common interest (gaming) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing stories – not alone </li></ul><ul><li>Creating safe spaces to discuss sensitive topics </li></ul><ul><li>Creating safe online gaming places – gaming with friends, groups & clans </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring & learning </li></ul><ul><li>Help on how to stop abuse & harassment </li></ul>
    30. 36. Questions we can answer through Social Research <ul><li>How do we get women interested in gaming and purchasing games? </li></ul><ul><li>Learn about their needs and interests </li></ul><ul><li>Consider social contexts (such as kids & family) </li></ul><ul><li>*Xbox.com </li></ul>
    31. 37. Questions we can answer through Social Research <ul><li>How do we keep women interested in playing a game & gaming? </li></ul><ul><li>Learn about gaming experiences & the barriers that may exist </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the value of online communities as social support systems & networking hubs </li></ul>
    32. 38. …with thanks… <ul><li>… to the many people who made my internship so enjoyable… </li></ul><ul><li>Marc Smith, Daniel Pargman, Dennis Wixon, Kris Moreno, Tom Fuller, Christa Phillips, Randy Pagulayan, Elyssa Mosier, Julie Doty, Michael Berg, Dean Katsaros, Suzanne Evans, Kristen Fife, Liz Lawley, John Nordlinger, Danyel Fisher, Eric Gleave, Jonathon Grudin, Beth Kolko, Ramon Romero, Kristin Stecher, Tobin Titus, Matt Hurst…and many more. </li></ul>
    33. 39. <ul><li>Tracy L.M. Kennedy </li></ul><ul><li>PhD Candidate – Department of Sociology </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate Fellow - Knowledge Media </li></ul><ul><li>Design Institute </li></ul><ul><li>NetLab - Research Coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>University of Toronto </li></ul><ul><li>725 Spadina Ave. </li></ul><ul><li>Toronto, ON. Canada, M5S 2J4 </li></ul><ul><li>www.netwomen.ca/Blog </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>