3 Million Years of Being Scared of Things

I highly recommend that everybody check out this very interesting article about women in gaming by Chris Crawford. It’s not directly related to horror, but I think Crawford’s line of reasoning may help explain why horror games seem to be more adept than other genres at reaching casual female gamers. His premise is pretty interesting, and though he is careful to point out that he’s speaking in terms of generalizations, I think his conclusions are fairly convincing. The game industry is shooting itself in the foot by not courting the female audience, and as Crawford points out, most attempts at marketing games at women seem to simply consist of making everything pink.

Update: A long time has passed since I posted this article, and since then I’ve met a lot of people, including several women, who found Crawford’s ideas and conclusions sexist and offensive. I didn’t take his article that way–I thought that he was calling for more understanding of women as a target audience of game players so that the industry might make better games for them. A lot of other people, however, believe him to be saying that women like specific things thanks to evolution and that is that. Upon re-reading the article, I can see where they are coming from: he jumps too quickly from some interesting ideas on evolutionary psychology to some theory of his own about how that might apply to games. I think it’s fair to say that he sounds as narrow-minded as the people he complains about earlier in the article.

So if you are just reading this for the first time, I’d like to reword my recommendation of his article. I think that the idea that women and men might enjoy different things in video games is worthy of discussion, and I think that the evolutionary psychology approach is an interesting perspective. I’m not sure that it proves that the industry should all go out and make games about social manipulation, and frankly, the research he presents is much more interesting than his conclusions. I do think that he has a point about the industry not “getting it” when it comes to targeting women gamers, but I think that he may also have a bit to learn himself.

2 thoughts on “3 Million Years of Being Scared of Things

  1. Well that answers my Yukki Onna questions. The
    first article was excellent. The second was good
    but went way long. My social reasoning broke down
    and I started skipped over the last text to
    find the “point”. 😉 I’m gonna find me a rock
    throwin’ game! Rocks are cool!

  2. http://spooky.ms11.net/index.html
    I am a female gamer, and I like scary games. I think a lot of people (i.e. game makers) assume that female gamers are, or will be, turned off by violence, by bloodshed. I think that is true of many females, but obviously not all.

    Blood shed, violence in video games doesn’t bother me too much. I’m not keen on real-life violence.

    The article you linked to mentioned that males tend to prefer First Person Shooters while females don’t tend to get much out of them.

    Killing zombies, all the violence, etc., in such games doesn’t disturb me, but I will say that First Person Shooters, even if they are all about shooting zombies – usually tend to bore me. I don’t know why that is.

    I love shooting zombies or zombie-like monsters in Resident Evil and Cold Fear, etc., don’t get me wrong, but in *those* games, you tend to have a backing story which makes me enjoy the game a bit more.

    With games such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill, it’s not *just* (or *only*) ‘shoot, shoot, shoot,’ like in “House of the Dead” for the X-box. (The House of the Dead game actually managed to make shooting zombies boring.)

    Maybe it’s also because I just prefer the 3rd person view, I like being able to see the character I’m playing on the screen, and not just his or her hand holding a fire arm.

    Because with ‘Hunter the Reckoning,’ a game series which I used to like quite a bit, you’re in the 3rd person mode, and basically all you’re doing is shooting, shooting and more shooting. For a long time that didn’t bother me.

    However, when I recently re-played parts of the original Hunter the Reckoning, after a couple of levels, I got bored. It seemed so pointless and repetitive. It’s still a good game, but the repetitive nature wears thin after awhile.

    I think atmosphere matters, at least to me. I love visuals that look very gothic… you know, in Resident Evil, you’re usually in a dreary, run down old creepy mansion, stuff like that. I think that Fatal Frame does an excellent job at setting creepy atmosphere.

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