We Won't Be Taken Seriously As An Industry If We Can't Behave Seriously

Is it games or gamer behaviour that stops video games from being considered a serious entertainment industry?

There’s no denying it: video games are the entertainment industry of the 2010s. You can try to deny it and say that films and TV still reign supreme, but all the evidence proves the contrary. 2013 saw Grand Theft Auto V become the fastest selling piece of entertainment property of all time: measured by the amount of time it takes to amass $1 billion in profit. But even back in 2003, Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare had already beaten the then fastest selling film of all time, Avatar, reaching $1 billion a full day ahead of the blue extraterrestrials. 

So why are video games still poo-pooed and looked down noses at, despite both huge financial and artistic successes and advancements? Maybe it’s not so much the games, but the gamers. 

Act Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size

"If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have?" 

Research has shown that the average age of a gamer is in the mid-30s. Gaming is no longer the exclusive pastime of lonesome teenagers locked inside their bedrooms. It is now a fully fledged method of entertainment enjoyed by young professionals and their families.

So why do so many gamers insist on acting like children? There are far to many gamers, especially on multiplayer games like Halo, Call of Duty, and even Little Big Planet, that call each other “motherf*cking f*ggots/c*nts/wh*res” down their headsets, along with a whole host of other insults that sadly include racist ones. This is not how a mature audience should behave. If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have? 

Less Sex and Sexism Please, We’re Adults 

Another thing that mars us is the grossly base and insulting levels some developers and video games marketers stoop to make their product sell. Free-to-play MMOs, like Wartune, are particularly bad at doing this. The result is that it really degrades the gamers and the industry. 

Research has shown that the gaming community consists of almost equal amounts of men and women, yet for some reason we’re still pitched at as if we’re 14 year-old boys with rampant hormones and sore wrists. 

Sexism, too, is still rife. You only need to look at the skimpy and ineffectual armour of female characters in fantasy games, and generally how male-orientated gaming narratives are, to see that a female audience might as well be considered non-existent. 

Ease Off On The Excess 

http://vvv-gaming.com/The mania around some games is ridiculous too. You just need to look as far as Flappy Bird to see how depressing the games industry is at times. As the game went viral, people seemed to become more stupid. The astronomical prices mobile devices with the now removed game being listed and selling for on Ebay is just embarrassing. The price tag of collectors’ edition copies of games like Saints Row IV are also just as silly. 

eSports is also a place where excess is rife. The prizes being offered to good gamers rise to thousands of pounds/dollars in cash, all for just sitting at a computer and clicking a mouse and/or mashing a few buttons. Not to mention the amount of money and advertising that’s poured into tournaments all just to watch a group of people sit in front of their monitors for an hour or two. 

Why All Of The Above Is Unfair 

It is incredibly easy to rebuke all the above as very shallow and generalised statements, because they’re just that. We could pick countless examples that show that the above are simply not as endemic as stated.

Is the mania, hyperbole, and behaviour of gamers really worse than that of Beliebers or One Directioners? How can eSports be deemed excessive when the wages of professional football and soccer players could collectively wipe out most of the developing world’s debt? Have Bioware not done more to challenge the “Straight White Guy Industry” than Hollywood in making LGBT characters more visible and prominent than in the latest films? 

But this is still how many people see the video games industry: juvenile, uncultured, and overblown. Yet, sometimes stereotypes but hold small amounts of truth. Whilst generalisation like those above are unfair, they’re not untrue.

We, for one, celebrate that we can have these discussions and counter these points of view. As well as challenging “mainstream” entertainment industries, we’re also starting to challenge ourselves which means we can only but grow as both an industry and an audience. 

"Perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property - like theatre, film, and TV - because that’s exactly what we are and do."

Video games is a very young industry compared to that of theatre, film, and TV, and it will take some time for those stuck in the mud to accept the clout and cultural impacts games are having and have already had. Yet, perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property - like theatre, film, and TV - because that’s exactly what we are and do.

Featured Columnist

Bearded British game-bear. Likes his JRPGs accompanied with a G&T. Lives in London, UK. Also writes a lot about theatre and film. *jazz hands*

Published Feb. 15th 2014
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    Just found a blunder, you put Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare. It's 4. First paragraph near the bottom.
    I think with being taken seriously there has to be over inflated price money. Everything else does it and people are accepting for doing it, but I also do not think it should be the case.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    Male gardeners aside, I think you wrote a great piece overall with a lot of great points. The industry as a whole needs to grow up.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I think this is a wonderful article and not enough women are acknowledged for their contribution in the industry that I love. My example of numbers... out of 100 gamers that I know, 60% are women... women! In public online matches I almost always try not to talk because of all the deplorable statements that come my way. YES I stand at midnight launches but only because I know the people that work at the place so I know I'm "safe". I'm friends with amazing writers in all different forms and it's 50/50 split, same for photographers. Do we need for female gamers? HELL YEAH but the immaturity level of gaming behavior needs to get under control. It's disgusting. GameSkinny is a prime example of the significant amount of women in this industry but there needs to be more. It's still considered a "Boys Club" and more women need to vote female so all our voices are heard, then maybe then we'll see some changes. Gaming behaviors need to change significantly as well for ALL of our sakes.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I wanted to comment, had a few things brewing and then saw all these comments. I just can't keep up haha, what a can of worms this is.

    People outside our gaming community just have no idea what they are looking at and change is just too much for people so obviously it's going to be dismissed. We just have to wait until the next thing that people can't accept to dismiss and we'll finally be left alone. That's all it comes down to.

    There will be a next thing, I'm thinking something like... revolutionary thoughts on education? Which I personally can't wait for. It'll suck to look back and think, god I went through that crappy education system and now my kid makes me look dumb.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Media gets very entrenched in their ways. Advertising people can easily sell space in a paper, on radio or TV, etc. But, trying to gaming media to make money from ads or promotion is still really new.

    A lot of the old guard don't understand it.

    I'm sure a lot of Hollywood suits didn't take it well that many game franchises outsell their big tent pole junk movies. So, until they better understand the video game business and how to exploit it, they will try and dismiss it.
  • [[Deleted]]
    It's funny I've been thinking of a post about this topic that I haven't gotten to writing.

    But here's the run down of my perspective.

    The video game industry has just such a wide scope that really doesn't seem to have limits so they can tell stories and present their works in ways other media just can't do.

    Take a look at the Mass Effect Series... its immersive, its a great storyline, with excellent character development, its thought engaging and deals for the most part very maturely with sensitive issues like racism. It has comedy, drama, romance, action, and just about everything in-between. I mean seriously where would we be without Joker's quips?

    However then something like Lightning Returns happens and it sets the industry back. Don't get me wrong, I like the games story, and I'm still a fan of the lightster but the devs basically increased her bust size a full cup "because I wanted them bigger"(The lead dev actually said something like that), and made the schemata system which had the potential to be a very engaging and customizable battle system and ruined it by making it simply a way to see Lightning cosplay in multiple scantly clad outfits. Which in turn makes it seem like the industry hasn't made any progression towards wanting to be taken seriously.

    However as a whole we (as in devs and gamers alike) are moving forward, gamers are showing a little bit of maturity (online interactions aside), and devs are listening, case in point - Divinity Original sin, I actually just finished reading a post on how they changed the main female character artwork to a fully clothed female vs the previous "metal bikini" look she had previously.

    In the end though... as with anything, the more and more people get interested in something the rate of jackhole's seems to raise exponentially.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    I absolutely agree with you. I think this is an incredibly exciting time for games, as we're really seeing some radical changes in what has been the norm for decades.

    But, sometimes we don't do ourselves (gamers and devs alike) any favours. We're not going to stop jackholes anytime soon, but at least we can know spot them and challenge them!
  • GameSkinny Staff
    I think the biggest issue is right there, it's still a young industry. There have been plenty of comparisons of the VG industry and the Film industry. A ton of similarities in the development of how both criticism and reception mirror each other in both. I think that gaming just needs time - we are still going through growing pains, and we will be for a bit yet.

    If I had to guess, I think it'll still be a decade or two before there are any major changes. And even then, if we take cues from the film industry, we'll most likely still see a lot of juvenile content with rare nuggets of more developed mature content. It's all demographics. The most play time and disposable income is still going to come from teenagers.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Great post!

    One thing, though- "Research has shown that the gaming community consists of almost equal amounts of men and women, yet for some reason we’re still pitched at as if we’re 14 year-old boys with rampant hormones and sore wrists. "

    It has never been true that the CORE gaming community is split 50/50 between men and women. Standing in a GameStop for an hour will show you that in fact, it's still basically a 10:1 ratio favoring males. The research in question, conducted by the ESA, merely asked if someone plays any sort of video game, and that can include everything from Bejeweled to Solitaire to Angry Birds. Well, basically everyone plays those games, but they're not necessarily the same people who buy the latest Assassin's Creed.

    The bottom line is that core gaming is still a very big boy's club. Look at pictures of customers standing in midnight launch lines for a new game or piece of gaming hardware; it's not even 10:1. Oftentimes, it's more like 100:1; you're hard-pressed to even find a female in that line. And that's because it's a line filled with core gamers, and that group remains dominated by males.

    If you could locate the percentages of purchasers of the Grand Theft Autos, Call of Dutys, Assassins Creeds, Uncharteds, Halos, or really, any huge core franchise, you would certainly not find a 50/50 split. I'd guess 95/5, in fact.

    The rest I mostly agree with. The juvenile nature of the gaming community is a big reason why I refuse to play games online.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    Absolutely untrue. You forget about the almost equal ratio of female writers at this very magazine, including our Editor in Chief, Amy!

    Survey's from Pixwoo, Xbox Live, and YouGov have found the split to be at least 60/40 men to women. Wondering around Eurogamer last year there were almost just as many girls there as there were guys.

    And I hate this lazy perception that girl gamers only play "girly" games and not games like GTA, CoD, Assassins Creed, Uncharted etc. They do. I lived in a house at university that was me and three other girls, and we all played GTA religiously, often fighting for console time. I also got my arse handed to me by a girl on the Titanfall demo at EGX last year.

    On the flip side, there are also plenty of males who play Angry Birds, Bejewelled and Solitaire. Those games are by no means exclusive female titles, making your anecdote pretty weak.

    They might not be as many ladies in the queue for console launches etc, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Maybe they're just a bit more sensible and patient when it comes to getting a new console or game!
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    No, it's not untrue.

    Go to every single video game source online and add up the number of male writers vs. female. Do everything from GameSpot to Kotaku to VideoGamer to the small and medium sites. Many have entirely male staffs; all have a staff where the huge majority is male. Just look for yourself.

    You mentioned Eurogamer; here's their staff page-


    Permanent staff: I count 21 people. 20 are male.

    GameFAQs runs a poll every year, asking "are you male or female." There has yet to be a year where it ends up being less than 92% male. What's so "male-oriented" about GameFAQs?

    Every site I've written for, including the current one, has a ratio of about 97% male and 3% female (in terms of registered users). The larger sites have a few more females but active members in the forums - again, the core gamer group - sees an overwhelming majority of males. Well over 90% for any forum of which I've been mod or administrator. Just go into one and take your own poll, if you don't believe it. Pick one; any one.

    I've been working around the PlayStation brand for over a decade; I know the PlayStation Network subscriber list - the list of ACTIVE accounts - is about 80% male. It's about the same for Xbox Live.

    No, it's not untrue. There's a very good reason why gaming seems to keep going after the teen male demographic, and it's because this 50/50 myth is exactly that: A myth. And every industry executive knows it.

    P.S. I'm not condoning any of this or saying it's "right." I'm just telling you the way it is.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    I would believe a 60/40 split in overall "hardcore" games (I hate the term, it is elitist as hell), even a 70/30 split if you looked at certain games. I can certainly tell you I've only played 3/5's of the games you listed, but that's more telling of the platform they're on.

    What I consider strange is your skew towards strictly large console titles - that evidences a lot more bias than you'd think. It feels like you're ignoring other large, industry-backbone games World of Warcraft (which I don't think anyone could argue has a 95/5 split), and the Elder Scrolls series just to prove a point.

    Also, if you're talking about midnight releases and standing in lines... you're right. I would never stand in one. The LINE is one big boy's club. I wouldn't feel safe, and heaven knows I wouldn't feel comfortable. I would be that person who preorders it off Amazon, gets it shipped right to my doorstep the morning of launch day, and skips the potential disappointment of waiting in line just to find out they've sold out.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    You can't go by what you see in public. Due to the very nature of immature boys that play most games, female gamers in the past have taken to being incognito by choosing gamertags that don't scream "I'm a girl" to avoid being treated like we're inferior. Most females who play CoD also either are members of teams they are respected by, or don't talk over the headset just so others won't treat them like crap b/c they are female.

    I also agree with Stephanie about midnight launches. Those things sound like a huge headache and when you got a bunch of stupid idiots fighting over crap, its not exactly a place I want to be. If something I want is a midnight launch and I want it that bad, I'll send my husband while i stay home with my two girls, who are also enjoy gaming.

    As far as journalism goes, unless it is a female geared site, yes, there is more male staff than men..but that goes for any industry. Women are still being to not be as capable as our male counterparts. But that does not mean we are not here and that we will not continue to fight to make our voices heard. Women are trying to make their mark in the gaming world but what was once a "big boys club" as you called it, its hard to break into.

    Men don't have to break through a wall of thinking that they are inferior for their gender. Women still are.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Stephanie: GameSpot, IGN, Kotaku, etc. are not "large console sites." They cover all platforms and in fact, are the single biggest gaming websites in the world. Their staffs are predominantly male, their readership is predominantly male, and their forum userbase and newsletter subscriber list is predominantly male. It's certainly not 50/50 and it's not even close to 60/40.

    And I'm sure you have your reasons for not standing in "the line." As do I. I never go to midnight launches because I don't want to deal with the crap, just like you and others. As I'm a male, however, that doesn't really prove anything, does it?

    Mary: I'm not going by what I see in public, although I fail to see how that's invalid. I'm going by numbers. I get the need to be anonymous, but what's stopping a female from, for instance, voting "I'm female" on GameFAQ's annual poll? That's entirely anonymous and if I were a female, I'd quickly click that option so I could be counted. It's still always 90%+ male.

    And as I said above, I don't want to stand in lines, either. Doesn't mean that every single woman on earth opts not to do it, nor does it mean no men (myself included) will pass. I'll always pass; I think that environment is just plain weird, and potentially hostile.

    In no way am I saying women aren't there. In no way am I implying women don't often hide for a variety of legitimate reasons. I'm telling you what I know from compiled numbers in the industry, and explaining to the author why the industry continues to cater to the young male demographic. Simply, it's because the vast majority of its audience are indeed young male.

    I've been covering the industry for almost 15 years. I've been a gamer for nearly 30. I review multiple games a week for most of any given year, and that almost always involves testing the online multiplayer. Let me say this- 99 out of 100 voices I hear playing online are male. That's just a fact. It changes a little depending on what I'm playing, but it has never even approached 50/50 or 60/40. I'm sure some are muting themselves. But I refuse to believe ALL of them are.

    So, either all my years and experiences are somehow in the minority, and major industry executives are incorrect in their interpretation of young males dominating the audience, or......I'm sorry, but what I'm saying is absolutely correct. I WANT more women to be involved, and I'd encourage them to be. But if we're going to make strides, we can't even begin to believe this 50/50 nonsense.

    And by the way.....even if gaming was male-centric, I'm not sure why we have to be all up in arms about it. For example, I love to read but I've never been part of a book club that wasn't dominated by females. According to book sale numbers, more women read than men. That's just a fact, and I accept it. I wish more men would read, I wish I'd see more men discussing books in groups and such, but that may never happen. And you know, I'm okay with that.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    You like the go by numbers. Your opinion here has been lambasted by several people now.

    "P.S. I'm not condoning any of this or saying it's "right." I'm just telling you the way it is."

    Saying that doesn't excuse you from being pig-arrogant.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    Completely with Mary on this one. Using a male:female staff ratio at one magazine to "prove" that hardly any women play video games is tantamount to using women's salaries to "prove" that men do better jobs. There are myriad reasons why women aren't as more widespread employed in all sectors of the industry. People dedicate entire PHDs and careers to explore gender inequality within careers. But all that has nothing to do with trying to "prove" that hardly any women play games.

    Why is it so hard for you to accept that there are far more female gamers than you think? This is completely the type of mind-set that mars the industry as I talk about in my article.

    And don't retort with "but I DO think there should be more female gamers," because refusing to acknowledge that there already are nullifies such sentiments.

    I really would love to leave you in a room with Amy, Katy, Ashley, Vanessa, Mary, Stephanie, Amanda et al and have this conversation. And they're not "exceptions to the rule," they are part of a wide and very real demographic of girl gamers. Dismiss them at your peril!
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Dude, you're being obtuse on purpose. You're the one who brought up Eurogamer, so I cited their staff, which YOU chose to dismiss. I mentioned every single video game website on earth. Every single one. Every staff, every newsletter subscribership, every registered userbase, etc.

    I speak from experience because I've been with several, and I speak from experience, because I've seen numbers you haven't. I provided you with several numbers that I'm aware of. You have provided none. I also never once said "hardly any women play games;" that's you putting words in my mouth.

    I told you it's not 50/50 among the core gamer base. I explained why that's obviously a fact, and what I want to do is put YOU in a room with every industry executive who understands this, who works at companies that produce products that keep catering to the young male demographic (and which, in your piece, you wonder why they're doing it), and have you just rant and rave because you so desperately want it to be 50/50.

    Exactly how do you expect to "prove" anything on your side just by yelling at people and telling them they're "pig-arrogant" when you didn't even bother to do the necessary research? You tell me Eurogamer has women everywhere, basically; I tell you who runs their staff, and you get all mad and pissy. Is there any particular reason you can't just accept what's right in front of you?

    At no place did I even imply there are zero female gamers. That's just a childish response to my response. I also said your post was great; all I did was answer your question, which is why the industry keeps targeting a young male audience when the gaming audience is 50/50. It isn't. The core one definitely isn't. ...but so what? You can admit it, you know. Doesn't make you insensitive; it makes you correct.

    THEN maybe we can do something about it. We should, too. Women need more of a role, and because it's still so lopsided, we should acknowledge that. Saying, "oh, it's 50/50" means there's no problem and everything's even...right?" As the women above said, it certainly isn't that way, and they shouldn't have to feel like outcasts.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    I could say the same about you. You're blissfully trying to shoot down every comment that's against you in this thread, who are from the majority of GIRL GAMERS.

    You're research is shallow and scrapes the surface. It's all circumstantial and anecdotal. Pixwoo, Xbox Live, and YouGov are all wide-spread surveys. They're actually an insight that pierces through the fact that men have the lion's share in video games jobs, because it actually looks at who PLAYS them. Yes, they're not perfect or absolutely comprehensive, but they give probably the most solid idea of gaming demographic.

    I've already cited that whole women in game journalism jobs v women who play games is a poor example, and others have backed me up with reasons why women aren't as visible at events and launches.

    I'm getting "p*ssy" (even I've given you the courtesy to abstain from low-grade language) because you're winding me up with your acrimonious and bullish insistence that you and no-one else but you is right.

    I don't WANT it to be 50/50 (I never said it was, I said "almost equal" and cited 60/40 elsewhere) it IS! You just keep coming around with "evidence" that you keep contriving to suit your point of view.

    But we might as well end here because you seem hell-bent on making a stand and bully people into being so tired as to argue another point of view.

    I admit it. You're "RIGHT," because I really can't muster the energy to argue otherwise. I'll go and join the wealth of female gamers that I know play, and who have already attempted to counter your views here, and have a discussion with them about how female gamer visibility can be improved, because we recognise that the marketing and pitch of the games industry goes against its actual demographic. That's what should be challenged, not trying to disprove that there are more than "5%" of female gamers that don't just play Candy Crush!
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    LOL I use "anecdotal" evidence because I've actually been in the industry for a decade and a half, and you don't use anecdotal evidence because you know females who play video games. Really? Do you need to look up the word "anecdotal?"

    If you'd like to come up with the stats that refute my claims that at every major gaming site, the vast majority of staffers are male, the vast majority of registered users are male, the vast majority of forum users are male, and the vast majority of newsletter subscribers are male, go right ahead.

    Until then, stop trying to claim something is true just because you want it to be. It's just deluding yourself to the point of hilarity. Yeah, it's 50/50 because you just just "know." Me, I have no idea. You do and I don't, which is where you come out, which I find adolescent and boring.

    By all means, go lecture the industry executives who have no idea what the video game demographic is (despite the fact that it's their entire job to know) because, even though you have zero evidence to support your theory, you're just "right." Really, go tell them. I'm sure you simply know more about the industry than they do.

    And you can stop putting words in my mouth that were never there, too. I'd appreciate that.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    Recent polls in the US and AU show that it's about 30-40% female to 70-80% male gamers, so yes there are more male gamers, but there is still a high number of female gamers. If you take it game specific then yes, maybe CoD has a 90% to male, but overall, across all games it's getting close to a 50/50 split. There are also more and more female developers, or creative directors, which is also great.

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