In a recent blog post by @Chris Kerr, he shows—according to certain studies—how men and womens’ gaming tastes drastically differ. Men tend to prefer FPS, RPGs, fantasy sport games, poker, building simulations, and similarly designed games. Conversely, women gamers tend to prefer match three games, social slots, and hidden objective tiles. Not surprisingly, but nonetheless somewhat disappointingly, the preferences of male and female gamers fall into categories that are often associated with their respective “gender norms.” Men prefer the more action oriented, and therefore instantaneous release (like an orgasm), of first person shooter, while women prefer the more “wait and see what appears” approach of puzzle games. Obviously, both I and the studies are generalizing to an extent. However, it is somewhat telling that the distinctions of game genres so clearly falls along the traditional binaries of typically male/female dichotomies.
The following doesn’t want to explore an already fatigued topic. Furthermore, I am not really interested in such banalities. Rather, what I found most striking about the aforementioned blog is the singular trope that connects female and male gamers. Namely, infinite runners are the predominant genre of games that is equally represented by both male and female gamers. At first one might be shocked at this. According to tradition, male gamers would either like purely violent, goal oriented, or logic based games (this, of course, is corresponding to the stereotypes that currently plague post-modernity). On the other hand, female gamers would enjoy more picture oriented based games. This, of course, can be correlated to the outdated stereotype that women enjoy fashion, while men do not. Both are wrong.
Nonetheless, the fact that both women and men enjoy endless runners reveals something about the psyche of gamers; namely, that both men and women, like all humans, look towards the future as something worth yearning for. More specifically, an infinite runner is nothing other than a metaphorical “what if.” Our every action is guided towards not now, not then, but tomorrow. Even nostalgia points towards the future. Indeed, it is impossible to yearn for something of yesterday without automatically placing it in tomorrow. Therefore, the fact that both men and women equally enjoy infinite runners reveals a commonality between the sexes. Furthermore, the simplicity of such a game reveals the commonality as human beings.
We yearn for what we don’t have, for what lies just above the horizon. And, it is this yearning for the intangible, that we as game developers, must keep in mind.