Women Play Video Games

Hello! I've come here today to explain something that apparently still needs explaining: Women play video games.

Photo Illustration by Elena Scotti/Kotaku/GMG, photos via Shutterstock

I know, it's a radical concept. (As plenty of you are doubtless aware, it is not a radical concept.) Yet here in the year 2017, it's apparently still really easy to assume that despite the fact that A) video games are awesome and B) video games have been a huge part of mainstream popular culture for decades, women do not play video games. But they do.

I know that many of you reading this are on the same page. If so, cool. Keep doing what you're doing. But you may be surprised how many people still think that women, as a general rule, do not play video games. Ask any woman you know — who, again, probably plays video games — and she will likely have a story about someone assuming that she, a woman, does not play video games. Despite the fact that she does.

Basically every woman I know who works in games or plays a lot of games regularly has people assume she doesn't. A quick survey today of several of the women I work alongside at Kotaku confirmed that, yes, this is a frequent occurrence. In fact, for women at game conferences such as E3, it often gets a lot worse than having someone assume you don't play games. The basic truth of the matter still bears repeating, however, so I'm going to repeat it now: Women play video games.

The assumption I'm talking about is rarely made with the intention of hurting someone's feelings. Like most assumptions, it doesn't require much thought at all. But if you have ever assumed that maybe women don't play video games, take this opportunity to remind yourself that in fact, they do.

If you are a man (or if you're not!) out at a social gathering, talking with some friends about video games, and a woman comes up and joins the conversation, do yourself a favour: Assume she plays video games. Don't ask, "Do you play video games?" Instead, ask, "What kind of games do you play?"

If she says, "Oh, I don't really play games," no big deal. Change the subject to TV, or music, or the weather. (Some people may argue that the weather is not an interesting subject of conversation; I say there's a reason it's a conversational default.) But if she does play video games, chances are she will have repeatedly dealt with people who assume that she doesn't. Which is stupid, because women play video games. They just do.


    Women who work with kotaku play video games?

      Kotaku has a zombie workforce?

      Gamers are dead.

      No wonder Bethesda blacklisted them.

      (Necromancy is outlawed in Cyrodiil)

      Of course the people at Kotaku play video games. It's Polygon's staff that don't play them. Remember their attempt at playing Doom? :P

    Am surprised an article like this even needs to exist in this day and age. Isnt only 12 yr old boys that still believe GIRL in a game means Guy In Real Life?

      I'm guessing Kirk just needed some easy clicks from people like us?

        Yeah I had a little voice shouting as I opened the page, "Oh dude it's just trying to get your cli...aww man you clicked it."

    What a pointless article, I still feel like most of the people I interact with male or female don't care about video games. Even working in IT most of my colleagues aren't gamer's.

    I would wager 99% of the people that read Kotaku know that women play games.

      Not to mention how condescending it all sounded.

        I'd refer everyone to my previous comment. Hopefully the context of it all helps. It's not targeted at you guys, who are awesome, it's highlighting something in the industry that most people don't see.

      You'd think that with all these women gamers Kotaku could find a stock image of one that actually looks like they're playing a game...

    Don't ask, "Do you play video games?" Instead, ask, "What kind of games do you play?"
    If someone starts talking about games, then it seems daft to ask them if they play games - male or female. If someone stays in a conversation without saying anything it's reasonable to assume they have an interest, though "do you play games?" is not an unreasonable question to ask a person.
    I don't assume anyone plays video games, reads books, rides bikes or rabidly watches Game of Thrones.

    Microsoft opened their Xbox press conference with a girl holding a controller. That's it, folks, the Gender Wars are over, move along.

    I was wondering when I was going to get my daily dose of clickbait...

    I'm beginning to wonder if any of the people there are actually playing bloody video games...

    In my personal experience - being a woman who plays video games is rarely an issue in Australia. I've worked on a team of all guys (except for me), all gamers, and no one was weird or condescending about me being a gamer. I haven't had any negative experiences going to PAX Aus. The only vaguely negative experience I've had is that EB staff have a tendency to assume that I'm buying games for my (non-existent) kids rather than for myself. I can deal with that.

    However, I'm not the only woman gamer in Australia, so my experience shouldn't be taken as standard. I also think that being a woman gamer seems to be more problematic in the US, where the sexist douchebag ratio seems to be a bit higher the gaming world. I've seen way too many women gamers share some very concerning stories - it's not pretty.

      But do you play video games? Oh crap I mean, what kind of video games do you pl...actually these questions are stupid.

      Can I borrow some games?

      It's also like about wherever it's coming from. Some women probably have a bad time and have nothing to say about it and some women probably have a good time and nothing to say about that either. We then get an article when someone definitely has something to say, whether it's correlating or not.

      I'm a male in my late 40s, EB staff also assume I am buying games for my kids...

        When I purchased a Switch and BotW from EB earlier this year, the sales person asked if it was for my son or daughter.

        At least they included the daughter option.

          At least they included the daughter option.

          Doing better than Nintendo did! :P

        Just start talking about games they've probably never heard of. That usually works with me. There's only one dude I've encountered that is a massive JRPG fan (like me). Everyone else scratches their heads and smiles politely when I talk about God Wars: Future Past or Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.

        Yes, I definitely think age is a factor here too (I'm 39).

    I'm sorry, but when you have journalists making videos like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3pQ0oO_cDE getting asked if they play videogames is pretty reasonable.

    Also, the complaint that this article is in response to doesn't mention gender. It was her who made that assumption.

      In that Polygon video the guy is playing with a Playstation controller. Putting anything else about the reviewer aside (like him supposedly not even liking video games), I know I'm about as uncoordinated as that with a controller in FPS games too, even though I have 20 years gaming experience and can play just fine with mouse/keyboard.

    I always neglect to remember that, thank you for reminding me.

    If it's not too much, remind me again in two weeks, I might forget.

    'What games do you play?' ... what a strange thing to ask someone who has just come into a conversation.

    Seriously, how is it offensive to ask someone if they take part in a particular hobby if you've never met them before?

      Will there somehow be an insinuated "you play Farmville, don't you" in the question "what games do you play?"

        Kotaku says Farmville is a game, so insinuating that should be fine.

      Apparently it's quite offensive, if you listen to articles like this.

      Agree. I've used the "Do you play games?" line many times before. To me it seems like a great opener to see if we share a hobby. Doesn't matter if they're male or female, I use the line.
      It's also a good line to branch off from. "Do you play games?" "You do? Awesome! Video, board, or both?" "Both huh? Do you have a favourite board game?" "Oh, I haven't heard of that one. What's it about?"

    Yet in this day and age they are still reqiored to use a wired dual shock? I cannot believe people.

      Gotta keep them safely tethered so you don't lose 'em?

        Of course! It also means they are on-hand to tell you that you misspelled "required".

    I truly wonder how many stereotypes are kept alive SOLELY by people doing things like, oh I don't know, writing articles about how the stereotype still exists.

    Basically every woman I know who works in games or plays a lot of games regularly has people assume she doesn't.

    I don't understand this sentence. So these women pretend that they don't play games? Are they ashamed?

      In conversations, they're assumed to not play games. I.e. treated with surprise when saying they play games or excluded because it's assumed they don't play games or treated as a "fake gamer" when they say they play games.

      People can also get quite hostile when their assumptions are challenged (regardless of the manner in which they are challenged), which I imagine would lead to some awkward conversations.

    How about if I said I wished more women played games.

    Is that bad?

      Yes, it means you're either a pervert or a misandrist.


    Ah good old Kotaku, always here to help us with our natural conversing and social encounters. Hell without this article I might possibly offend a female by asking her if she plays video games, the horror!

    Was this low effort article written just to fill space?

    Why would I assume that anyone plays games, male OR female? People who identify themselves as gamers are largely in the minority.

    On top of that, if I were to choose EITHER sex to make an assumption about identifying as a gamer, I'd choose the sex that had a higher representation (ie. males).

    Lastly, if you are the type of person who is offended by somebody assuming you don't play video games (male OR female), you need professional help. There are bigger problems in the world.

    I'd say the lady holding the controller in the image wouldn't be playing for long..... locking your elbows in like that all straight armed yikes!!!!

    Nah, I'll be fine thanks. I ask males if they play games so I see no reason to discriminate women and assume they play them when I offer more courtesy to men.

    Believe it or not - if you don't work in the games industry then you interact with a lot of people who don't play games and don't care about games. I'm in an office with around 100 scientists and engineers, male and female and out of all those people there's maybe 5 who play games, and there's two or three of us that play them more than once every week or two.

    Even the younger graduates that have only just come out of uni don't play games, crazy right?

      What's even crazier is that in a games company there are people who don't necessarily play games either.

        True. My point was more just pointing out that the attitude of this article comes from a "bubble" that is outside the experience of the majority of the population. Most people don't work in a gaming related industry so women being asked whether they play games or not is perfectly acceptable, the same as when I ask men.

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