Where are all the Women Gamers & Female Lead Protagonists?

Christina Macedo
Mar 8, 2019 · 7 min read
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Women,
If you swam everyday for 20 minutes a day…wouldn’t you say “Yes, I’m a swimmer?”
If you painted everyday for 20 minutes a day…wouldn’t you say “Yes, I’m a painter?”
If you ran everyday for 20 minutes a day…wouldn’t you say “ Yes, I’m a runner?”
If you gamed everyday for 20 minutes a day…well you wouldn’t say anything….

Why is that?

You’ll never catch me running for pleasure, I swim only at pool parties and that’s after a couple mojitos, I occasionally paint…. but I do play my favorite video games probably everyday…
So aren’t I a gamer?

My fondest memories are playing Donkey Kong (every version imaginable), Uncharted is definitely my favorite console game — as a player or as a viewer, I’m obsessed with Monument Valley, volume 1 & 2 — I’ve played it at least 4 times, Florence has completely changed my views on what a video game can actually be, I think Stack is one of the most addicting mini games there is, I dominate Candy Crush, and every morning while drinking my coffee, you’ll catch me playing one of Ready Game’s 130+ mini game, a game for every mood….
So aren’t I a gamer?

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There is this stereotype looming around that women aren’t interested in gaming and are only considered “gamers” if they are part of a “credible” esports league — yet the numbers show something else.

60% of daily gamers are Women (Jun Group) and 30% of U.S. gamers are women between ages 18–35 years old (Newgroup). So — women are gaming more than men daily and a large group set are women 18–35 years old — one of the biggest most powerful consumer demographics — so why aren’t more companies taking notice?

Another misconception is women are not interested in the “gaming” community. Actually Women WANT to be connected to the gaming community. 66% of female YouTube gamers watch gaming videos on YouTube when they want to hear from people they can relate to — Google/Ipso Connect Stats.

So why the stereotype?

As Vice-President of Operations of The Ready Games, a gaming studio revolutionizing mobile gaming for the casual gamer — obviously “ the business of it all” — is sort of important. So do we need more female characters? Is it actually a good business move to take into consideration the “female” consumer?

Women drive 70–90% of all consumer purchasing through their buying influence and power. I mean on a business level — that’s sort of whom you want to attract.

Let’s talk about power for a second — and the new changes to the movie industry by finally releasing blockbuster movies with female leads. And the result — Movies starring women earn more money than movies starring men.

“There’s a lot of conventional wisdom that women led films make less money. But our data doesn’t support that,” Megan Smith, Creative Arts Agency (CAA), Shift7 and former U.S. chief technology officer. Shift also conducted another analyses that demonstrated that films who passed the Bechdel test, a method which measures the way a film portrays women in which a movie needs to show two female characters having conversations about something other than a man, unanimously outperform those that didn’t.

So why aren’t there more female character leads in video games? Is this the same misconception that lead female characters won’t bring in the same revenue?

Many women characters are still portrayed as romantic conquests, submissive, or usually when a female protagonist is strong, she is sexualized, think earlier versions of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft or even Wonder Woman. In the last few years, female leads, including Lara Croft, have expanded to reflect more realistic female portrayals.

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It does seem that change is coming to the gaming industry.

Take Monument Valley 2, a blockbuster success in which a mother and daughter are lead protagonists. A great depiction of Motherhood that is rarely ever seen in video games, and yet 3.5 million copies sold in its first year.

Or Ken Wong’s breakout Florence, where storytelling and mobile gaming are combined in such a beautifully designed way. This game really took into consideration what women wanted to experience in gaming, that wasn’t necessarily available. “A lot of people think of games as things you can win — things that involve luck or skill. But…in video games — or, largely, the digital interactive space — there’s so much that you can do,” Ken Wong.

Two beautifully designed games, that are women-centered, and BIG blockbuster hits that have won countless awards.

We also see a strong protagonist in Ellie in The Last of Us — Where at first she was the female character that was aided by the lead Joel, but through popularity, players were able to become and control Ellie in the prequel campaign — and now, Ellie will be the protagonist in the Last of Us Part II. This is a perfect example of a game studio who gave a chance to a strong realistic female character and the result — the female character actually becomes the breakout star of the game series.

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Another interesting shift is with the widely popular Uncharted series — it seems we may have another strong young female protagonist in Nathan Drake’s daughter Cassie with Uncharted 5, another interesting move by a very popular franchise.

Progress is worth noting, however, at E3 in 2018 — only 8% of video games had a female protagonist, compared to 24% men. So there is still much to be done.

At the Ready Game Studio we’ve embraced diversity be it Grandmas, SuperHeroines, and Elf Princess Warriors. The idea is that characters should be as diverse as we are. Grandmas are pretty tough — why shouldn’t they have their place in video games?

Meet some Kick-ass Female Ready Characters:

Cosmic Cat is a super smart tween kitty, who’s aces at anything high tech — she’s Lead Programmer in the Ready Universe. She can fly spaceships, control robots- she can build them too. She feels like she doesn’t need anyone’s help and is the smartest person in the room. And usually, that’s true! Her dream is to get out of the fake space on the phone, and get to the real outer space she dreams of exploring.

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Emilia Egghart is our adventurous chicken. This lady bird has a bit of a bird brain- she’s into crazy escape schemes. Like suiting up in Cosmic Cat’s flight suit, and jumping over molten pools of lava. What a crazy idea! She’s also a little… chicken. She’s easily spooked. But quick to forget, and ready to jump back in for another try.

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Grandma is the toughest character in Ready. She’s a former world lightweight champion in the ladies’ boxing league. She’s persistent, and tenacious, with a salty sense of humor- she’ll shock you with some of her words! Grandma’s been fighting to get out for a long long time. And she won’t give up. She’s not one for clever tricks, like Cosmic Cat, but more into brute force.

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Zadriel Elf Princess is part of our Ready Royalty. Although she could easily be eating cake and bonbons in her castle, she would rather be chasing treasures and adventure. She can solve the most complexe puzzles and riddles & is the best sword fighter in the Ready Universe. Zadriel could keep all her jewels and baubles for herself, but instead always donates them to her favorite charities — in particular the Ready Dog Shelter!

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Captain Marvelous is the leader of our Ready superhero squad. She’s the strongest and quickest there is — and has psychic ability. She’s ambitious, tenacious and doesn’t like to waste any time — there is a world to save, after all! We are pretty glad Captain Marvelous is around — keeping all the villains behind bars, however, on her days off — you’ll find Captain Marvelous food hopping across town — trying to look for the best fish taco in the Ready Universe.

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Diversity makes everything just that much more interesting. The challenge is really up to us all to break the mold we are so used to. So I challenge ALL YOU WOMEN to say proudly “Yes, I’m a Gamer” and to ALL YOU MEN, I challenge you to ask for more lead female protagonists.

Change will come when we all learn to embrace it.

Christina Macedo
VP of Operations @ The Ready Games
Gamer
Wife
Foodie

PS — Download all these awesome Ready female protagonists @ The Ready Games’s giphy account or from your phone’s giphy keyboard- Share them, Text them, Tweet them, Love them!

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