November 04, 2009

A little something I appreciate about the RPG Industry

I was just noticing that although the RPG community would love to more consistently get female gamers, they've taken a strikingly different route than the video game community.

Let's think about this.  From what I've seen, there is no product specifically designed to attract female gamers to the RPG community.  There are games that do play around with gender, like Kagematsu.  A lot of these games play with societal gender roles.  This is entirely different from making an RPG specifically for women.  There are games that would like to appeal to more female gamers, but it's not quite the same when compared to what video games have done.

Specifically, the video game industry has tried to make games specifically for women.  And when I say women, I should really refer to the preteen to teenage market.  With games that have main characters like Barbie, Mary Kate and Ashley, and Miley Cyrus over the years, it's impossible to say that the industry has entirely neglected the girl market.  But has it actually penetrated the girl video-gamer market?

In my opinion, it hasn't.  The video game industry has been able to find out what a lot of younger girls like, but they haven't looked at why girls who already like video games like the games they play.

A lot of the games that have a fairly equal distribution or even a majority of female players in the video game market didn't try to market exclusively to girls or women in the first place.  One great example is one of my favorite game lines: the Sims.  Maxis merely went with a concept and ran with it, and without marketing to a specific gender produced a game that ended up having a majority of female players.  People can rattle on theories as to why, but it seems it was partly due to the fact that early on, there was no specific gender in mind for the players.  Well, there was the time when Will Wright decided not to call it Dollhouse because it made it more feminine, so one could even argue that the Sims market was equally targeting both genders.

The Sims model is more like what the RPG community has done: just make a good game and the players will come.  Could you imagine what would have happened if the RPG industry followed the video game model?  I don't even want to think about.

Don't think about it too much either, it might become a question of the week.


  1. Most of the computer games I have heard of doing well among women are exploration-style games. The Sims is a good example, as is Myst. What happens if you click that or give him that item? Hours of fun right there, with no maiming or killing in sight.

  2. As a person who went to school for, and worked in the video game industry I can say that the sole motivator for game companies is profit. With the budgets of many games being high companies don't want to gamble, they want a sure thing. This is why everything is pretty much a sequel or a clone of something successful that came before it.

    A lot of the smaller publishers simply cannot afford to risk everything on a game that caters primarily to a niche market. And yes, even though there are many females IN the game industry, at all levels, the predominant game buyer is still male. So that's who they have to cater to if they want to move units.
    Does this mean that there isn't room for growth, of course not.

    I guess the question to me is: How do you make an inclusive game that caters to whatever it is women want, without alienating the male playerbase?

    Who knows, maybe it's already being done successfully with MMORPG's