Yes, you read the summary right, bringing women BACK to videogaming. Women did videogames once? Yes they did! What women would be flabbergast at something like Pong? Or Breakout? Not many. The truth be told, in the 70's and 80's, videogames were actually very gender-neutral in their depictions and themes. Yes, Super Mario Bros. was about a guy saving the girl, but the game served so much humor and just pure fun that also women played it. Or how about the most successful arcade game in the US: Ms. Pacman, who's on second place? Well Mr. Pacman offcourse, both games that were designed to also appeal to women.
Where did this go wrong? The starting point can be put at the launch of Space Invaders but the actual dominating trend of women avoiding videogames can be undoubtedly be locked to the 90's. I won't indulge the what's, why's, processes and so forth for there is reason for much rejoicing: they're back!
As a result, I believe that the videogames that made women flock back to our favorite hobby should be considered among the most important videogames of the last decade. So let's get this list going!
1) The Sims.
Why? The best-selling game series on PC (supposed to be dieing too) to this date, 'nough said.
Did Will Wright knew what he created? Maybe, maybe not, the result isn't less for it. What the game did was almost undeniable the big starting point of getting women back to videogames and it did this by digitizing the puppet house. Too old for dollies? How about these digital ones who can have babies, fights, homosexual relationships, fights and many other stuff. Can have careers you can't have or do many many thing you can't...and you control it all! Moehahahahaaaa!!!
Why? It is present on anything with a LCD-screen, even inside other programs.
Colours, gems, addictive gameplay and a very low accessibility threshold: all what a game needs to attract women. Do mind, the very low accessibility threshold is not about "dumbing down" games hat some elitists keep trowing around. It's about the game being playable on so many platforms and being so easy to learn (but hard to master). It's hard not to find some site or even game that doesn't have bejeweled trown on it.
3) Animal Crossing DS
Why? One the titles that has boosted the DS to mass acceptance by selling way above 10 million copies worldwide.
Simply put: The Sims made by Nintendo. Bit more complicated: part The Sims, but with added social communication, time and exploration parts making it a unique game on its own. And women love it!
Why? 22 million + copies sold (half of them sold in Europe, proving that Europeans love puppies the most, making us the superior human beings, Ha! Infallible logic! ) and one of the reasons why the DS is such a juggernaut now, especially in Europe.
Also one of the first games that Shigeru Miyamoto used his Wife-o-meter for. Special fact: you know how "real" gamers say these games are for girls but then research shows that indeed 50% of the people who play it are women (high percentage of women for any kindof game)...it still means the other half is male...And did I say puppies yet? Very wel animated puppies in a game that probably had more then three years of development behind it (going from initial showing to actual release) by one of Nintendo's top EAD-teams. And third parties wonder why they're puppiegames aren't selling the same amount...I wonder I wonder.
5) Super Mario Kart DS and Wii.
Special Note: Yes, the number of Nintendo games is getting suspiciously high. But really, this is why the DS and the Wii are so hot and are far more sociably accepted then any other gameplatform before: both are actually also interesting for women. Doubles sales potential, who knew!
Why? Again the 20 million + sales for both games who still appear in the Top 20's all over the world.
Is there anything more fun then driving around in funny go-karts with funny characters on funny tracks shooting funny things at your spouse without the whole thing turning in some Multi-Killing blood-fest? Yeah... It's almost as if Nintendo managed to liquefy FUN and inject it into both games with syringes. Wait, wasn't Mario in something else too? Ah yes!
6) New Super Mario Bros. DS and Wii
Why? Well, let's take a look at Febrauri's NPD Top 20 chart. Wii-version is on number 2 with half a million and the DS one is number 13 when it was released in 2006...talk about having legs! Something doesn't sell like this and kees selling like this without being able to tap in some kind of unknown reservoir of gamers and I claim them to be women for about 45-50% for the same reason why women also like the first Super Mario Bros.: Gender-neutral fun for everyone! With even fun chaotic multiplayer options in both. What more could the guy and a girl want? Maybe a game to get in shape with all this sitting down, why...
Why? Well it sold so much that it's competing with the PS3 as a platform. And my mother bought it...my mother only plays 2D-zelda's and nothing else and suddenly "I want that WiiFit game, looks fun". It may be hardly a game for some, shittyfying videogames in general (sorry, Halo beat it to that) for others or just uninteresting for a lot of gamers. But in reality, WiiFit probably did a lot more in making videogames a social acceptable medium then any other game out there.
8) World of Warcraft
Why? Well I needed to stop this Nintendomination at some point, and it has 11.5 million users, many of them women.
Blizzard's MMORPG did a lot of things, pissing Everquest players of for being "too easy" or "not enough work to get something" is one. Making the MMORPG a huge thing in the world is another. The key aspect here was that it also appealed to women, I mean...pets, 'nough said. And a non-threathening art-style, addictive social-based gameplay, simple to understand mechanics and the ability to run it on quite a lot of hardware, laptops being a important set of this.
Why? Accessible on anything (laptops, netbooks and iPhones), easy to play, in most cases free and improving in a steady rate. Getting combined with Facebook ups the ante even more with social-based gaming.
Manifold offcourse, the most obvious ones is that of acceptance. By bringing more women into the videogaming fold, videogames get more accepted in a broader sense, giving us more ammo to shoot at the viollence-mongerers. A second one is the doubling of the potential user-base. Yes, half the world populance is female, Surprise!!! And they like to play games as well, Double Surprise!!! A third effect is more on the developer-side: developers suddenly have to become "creative" and "original". Not capable of re-hasing the sci-fi, phantasy, grizzled men theme, developers have to come up with new themes (puppies!! fitness!!) to not only lure the women back but to keep them there. Good news though, more women are also getting involved with game-development. This off course can create a beneficial upward spiral: new themes for videogames => attracts women => more interest in making new themes for videogames => more women join, you get the point.
A resulting effect is that videogames becomes more "complete" or "well-rounded" as a medium, breaking away from stereotypes and adding in flavour. Also, it's a lot more fun if you can share your hobby with your wife/girlfriend isn't it?