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Move over boys: More girls playing video games

December 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Move over guys, there are more female targeted video games than ever before.With more games focused on fashion, fitness and music, game companies are bending over backwards to meet the needs and wants of a new breed gamers... girls.

Robin Yang says she loves a good video game.

"Movies and music and books, they're much more passive. With video games you kind of have to be a part of the action," said Yang.

Once a male dominated activity, more girls are now getting into games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 40 percent of gamers are now female. That's compared to 12 percent back in 2001.

"Historically games have really been a lot about shoot 'em up, sports, these very aggressive activities. They're very competitive," said Lisa Leyba, the Senior Product Manager at Electronic Arts. "Girls really need something different in the games they're looking for."

Game developers like Leyba say game companies are, for the first time, looking at the needs and wants of female players of all ages.

"We actually play test with thousands and thousands of girls. And the things they want are dress up, they want to go on scavenger hunts, they want to have nurturing games," said Leyba

Last year alone, the gaming industry grossed $700 million in software for girls. Companies introduced games like "The Littlest Pet Shop" where players take care of their own digital pet and fashion games for teens like "Charm Girls Club." Workout games like "Wii Fit" have also been hugely popular for women.

"It would be hard to find a game company at the end of this year that doesn't really have a fitness game out," said Libe Goad, an editor of Games.com. "There's 'Wii Fit Plus,' which is brand new from Nintendo. There's 'EA Sports Active.' There's a Jillian Michaels game.

Goad is a girl gamer herself. She said the biggest difference between female and male gamers is the desire for cooperation rather than competition.

"They're really out to win, when I'm really there to hang out and have a good time. I don't care if I win or not," said Goad.

That's why many of the new games are designed with socialization in mind. They also entice the more casual player which helps draw in the busy mom crowd.

"They've put the kids to bed or they're just taking a break after work, whatever it is, and they're done for the evening," said Goad.

"You can get a great, quick 20 minute experience. It doesn't have to be sitting down and playing for four hours a day," said Leyba.

Robin Yang loves the new offerings and she's excited to have more of her female friends getting into gaming.

"I think it's great," said Yang. "The more people that play games the better."


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