Meredith Worrilow, Global Business Marketing, Measurement, and Insights Director at Activision Blizzard Media, looks at the results of a study showing that, contrary to popular belief, women are avid gamers.
The numbers in gaming are staggering: a global audience of over two billion and an industry worth more than $160bn (£127bn). But contrary to popular opinion, gaming is not purely dominated by young males. A significant portion of the audience is made up of women with children, a segment that until now has remained largely unstudied.
Historically, women gamers, and especially mums, have been written out of the narrative around gaming. The discourse around women and gaming has typically focused on mobile phones. This behavior, deemed casual gaming, has given the sense that women were not true "gamers". Images in the media reinforce the idea that mums are a particular kind of player, usually women playing casual games in their downtime. In these stories, their gaming was a novelty, and they certainly were not considered to be part of the broader gaming community.
However, the reality is that most mums are gamers. A research whitepaper from Activision Blizzard Media that surveyed women across the UK, US, France and Germany has revealed that gamer mums account for the majority of mums, with over two-thirds of mums gaming. But while 71 per cent of mums are playing video games, only 48 per cent of mum gamers actually describe themselves as gamers. This lack of self-identification has led to the perception of gaming as an activity enjoyed solely by men, which is both outdated and inaccurate.
The growth of mobile gaming has increased the accessibility of gaming for women, lowering the barrier to entry by removing the need to purchase additional hardware to play and making it easy to discover new titles. Over 90 per cent of gamer mums play mobile games at least weekly, and about 74 per cent play mobile games daily.
However, focusing exclusively on mobile gaming doesn’t tell the full story, as gamer mums are not only playing on their phones. The majority of gamers are playing on mobile and at least one other platform (console or PC). They’re spending many hours each week playing games, including big Triple-A action2 and MMORPG3 titles, and 61 per cent of these multi-platform mums self-identify as gamers. Except for mums in Germany, almost half of gamer mums have been playing games for 10 years or more.
Just as there is no typical ‘gamer’, there is no typical ‘gamer mum.’ The segment is made up of a rich kaleidoscope of women with different motivations and preferences for games. While some mums, particularly mobile-only mums, see gaming as a mostly solitary activity which they enjoy playing on their phone, others view it as a social activity that helps them stay close to their family and friends. Multi-platform mums are connected to other players inside and outside of their homes, which makes them an influential target for advertising partners.
Beyond their gaming passions, this content-hungry audience consumes more entertainment and engages more with social media than non-gamer mums. Among gamer mums, it’s those that play across a variety of platforms that are the biggest content consumers. Even in comparison to mobile-only mums, multi-platform mums are 10 per cent more likely to regularly binge watch content and 13 per cent more likely to want access to entertainment from anywhere.
For gamer mums, gaming is a key part of the entertainment that they love so much. They view entertainment, including gaming, as an important and positive part of their lives, more than their non-gaming mum peers. More gamer mums believe entertainment improves their mood compared to non-gamer mums. This sentiment only increases when looking at multi-platform mums, who are 28 per cent more likely to agree that "entertainment improves my mood" than mobile-only mums. For this group, entertainment is a mood booster that is solving problems and making them smarter.
When it comes to gaming specifically, multi-platform gamer mums report being entertained, happy, excited, and competitive, with some also feeling creative, smart, and powerful when they game. Gaming for these mums is more than just a hobby; it is something that enriches and adds value to their lives day-to-day.
Bringing people together
The joy that gamer mums get from entertainment goes beyond the individual experience. Gamer mums believe entertainment technology is bringing people closer together, more so than their non-gaming counterparts. This feeling of connection extends into the family. Gamer mums outpace non-gamer mums in their hopefulness for their children’s future. They are also more likely to feel they can easily relate to their children. For gamer mums, gaming is a connective tissue in their relationships with their kids – the more they game, the more they can relate to their children.
At the heart of their family, gamer mums are also at the center of their household’s decision-making. When it comes to gaming, gamer mums are making decisions for themselves, but they’re also more likely to be a primary or shared decision-maker on purchases for the family.
The stereotype that women, and especially mums, don’t enjoy playing video games couldn’t be further from the truth. Women don’t just play video games, they love them. They see gaming as an important part of their lives, one which brings them value and joy. This shift in the perception of women and gaming is becoming increasingly evident within the gaming industry. Games are being designed with women in mind, there is greater representation of women both in games themselves and gaming advertising, and more brands are starting to take notice.
The purchasing power of mums has long been recognized by brands, but reaching them hasn’t always been clear-cut. Gaming represents a unique opportunity for brands to tap into the key household decision-makers when they are highly engaged, receptive to advertising and in a positive mindset. Increasingly, brands are becoming aware of the value of the gamer mum audience and the accessibility to reach and influence this core consumer.