GDC 2013: Tom Abernathy Says “Women Are The New Core”
Video games lack female protagonists, with men outnumbering the women in lead roles by a staggering amount. The reason for this is often attributed to the widespread belief that games with female leads don’t sell as well as those with male leads. One developer, Tom Abernathy, does not believe this to be the case and wishes for there to be change.
Speaking at the Game Developers Conference 2013, Tom Abernathy, who works as a narrative designer at Microsoft, says (via Gameranx) that increasing diversity in games might actually be good for business—in addition to being good in moral and ethical ways.
“Women are not a small special market on the fringe of the core,” Abernathy said. “Women are the new core.”
He draws his arguments from statistics compiled by the Entertainment Software Association and research from PopCap, both of which found that 47% of those who play games are women. Abernathy draws attention to the fact that adult women make up a large percentage (30%, to be exact) of the gaming population, whereas only 18% of the gaming population fits the mold of the stereotypical adolescent gamer—male and under the age of 18. Based on these statistics alone, it would seem crucial for more developers to cater to the demographic almost double that of the stereotypically ‘core’ audience of gamers.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t room for game developers to continue catering to teenage boys, but it’s only good business sense to diversify these titles and make it so they can appeal to adult women instead of driving them away.
Abernathy says that the game industry would do well to keep up with the times, noting that America had voted in a black president and was taking steps to legalize same-sex marriages.
“Our industry, our art, and our business stand to gain in every sense simply by holding a mirror up to our audience and reflecting their diversity in what we produce,” Abernathy said.