WOMEN JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN – A STUDY OF ADULT FEMALE PLAYERS OF DIGITAL GAMES
In the past twenty-five years, the production of digital games has become a global media industry stretching from Japan, to the UK, France and the US. Despite this growth playing digital games, particularly computer games, is still seen by many as a boy’s pastime and part of boy’s bedroom culture. While these perceptions may serve to exclude, this paper set out to explore the experiences of women who game despite these perceptions. This paper addresses the topic of gender and games from two perspectives: the producer’s and the consumer’s. The first part of the paper explores how Sony represented the PS2 in advertisements in Ireland and how adult female game players interpreted these representations. The second part goes on to chart the gaming biographies of these women and how this leisure activity is incorporated into their adult everyday life. It also discuses their views about the gendered nature of game culture, public game spaces and game content; and how these influence their enjoyment of game playing and their views of themselves as women. These research findings are based on semi-structured interviews with two marketing professionals and ten female game players aged 18 and over. The paper concludes that the construction of both gender and digital games are highly contested and even when access is difficult, and representations in the media, in console design and in games are strongly masculine these interviewees were able to contest and appropriate the technology for their own means. Indeed ‘social networks’ were important in relation to their recruitment into, and sustained playing of, digital games. At the same time, the paper found that these interviewees were largely ‘invisible’ to the wider gaming community and producers, an issue raised by Bryce and Rutter (2002:244) in an earlier paper, which has important implications for the development of the games industry.