Gaming habits of Millennials vs Gen Y: opening up new jobs?

Video games can improve hand-to-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, increase cognitive functions, spatial awareness and creativity, help to create new friendships

Today, it’s widely accepted that a moderate amount of playing video games is beneficial. Video games can improve hand-to-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, increase cognitive functions, spatial awareness and creativity, help to create new friendships, and more according to BBC. However, this wasn’t the prevailing point of view in the ’80s when video games had their major breakthrough.

Since then, and up until rather recently, the perception was that video games were entertainment for boys. Today, we know that half of the audience are girls. Zynga, the creator of FarmVille, reports that more than half of their players are women and roughly 60% of teenage girls play video games. A last-year USA Today report stated that “more women play now than teen boys do”. It seems society has reached a tipping point in gaming habits, yet the workforce in the industry does not reflect the statistics.

Women under-represented in the gaming industry workforce

This shift in gender balance among gamers has not yet had any effect on the industry workforce, in particular in Malta. It was reported in 2018 that the Maltese tech industry has the least amount of women working in it than any other country, with only some 800 female employees out of 7000. A recent article by one of the leading affiliate companies working with online casinos in Malta shows how the local iGaming companies can influence the workforce and reduce the vast gender gap.

Other companies are also taking initiative. Zynga is actively empowering women to take on jobs in the sector. More locally, Malta-based gaming provider, Play’N GO is taking measures to highlight women in gaming.

Female gamers - the numbers

PopCap Studios, a subsidiary of EA Games, made an effort to make a survey of nearly 5,000 social gamers in the US and the UK. The findings are interesting: 58% of social gamers in the UK are females aged on average 43 years old. The Entertainment and Software Association, THEESA, strengthens these statistics in its 2020 survey. 64% of adults, and 70% of people underage, play video games frequently, with the average age being between 35 and 44 years old.

Broken down and translated, this means that almost half of the entire gaming population is female! About 36% of all players are adult women, while only 17% of all players are teenage boys. The facts show that adult women play more video games than teenage boys, although boys this age are often the target group for game makers.

So, the demographics of consumers have changed vastly, but female programmers and game designers remain a rarity. The trend is representative of Maltese students. A 2016 study by Malta Chambers suggests that the fields of IT, Communication Technology, and Computer Sciences are still being dominated by males despite the fact that females have become the majority of pupils studying them at university.

Female developers - the numbers

According to the International Game Developers Association’s own statistics, 11% of game designers and only 3% of game programmers are women. However, there are examples of prominent women in gaming. Fortune features 10 powerful women in gaming production, and female-founded production companies like Her Interactive and Silicon Sisters are growing in numbers.

Because the majority of students being female, and the majority of gamers too, the gap between supply and demand is obvious. There is a demand for the creation of games suitable for a female audience. Perhaps it is solely a biological reason that the IT and Tech fields are under-represented by women like the “gender equality paradox” suggests, or perhaps the reasons are social. If it is the latter, initiatives such as the previously stated examples could be used on a larger scale.

What is certain, however, is that there is a place in gaming production for females to create games more attractive for their main audience.