Women prove to be game-chang­ers

Why th­ese days, when it comes to gam­ing, it cer­tainly isn’t just a man’s (vir­tual) world

China Daily European Weekly - - BUSINESS - in Shang­hai By HE WEI hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

I’m not a games per­son — I hardly play games on elec­tronic de­vices like mo­bile phones and PCs. To me, games are, or rather were, syn­ony­mous with con­sole-gen­er­ated con­tent bristling with weaponry and drip­ping machismo.

But be­cause I needed to re­search and write a pack­age of sto­ries on the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness, I down­loaded Love and the Pro­ducer. And I got hooked im­me­di­ately.

It started with a haunt­ing mem­ory of a car ac­ci­dent. At the age of 5, the fe­male pro­tag­o­nist (me, the gamer or the player) is saved by a mys­te­ri­ous passer-by. I later be­come a TV pro­ducer who strives to bring alive a dy­ing TV show, a fam­ily legacy.

In­ter­twined into this busi­ness line is a love story. At dif­fer­ent times, I en­ter ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with as many as four pos­si­ble male suit­ors. They use their re­spec­tive su­per­pow­ers to bom­bard me with sur­prise gifts, send fes­ti­val greet­ings and re­ply to my mes­sages in sec­onds.

While play­ing the game, I can chat with the hot bods. I even pro­duce a va­ri­ety show for th­ese vir­tual “sweet­hearts”.

Slick lines are ut­tered as part of flirt­ing rit­u­als. This as­pect of the game has taken fe­male play­ers by storm. Many shared their “hot-chest” dat­ing plots on Sina Weibo, China’s dom­i­nant mi­cro-blog­ging ser­vice.

It soon be­came ev­i­dent to me why some fel­low fe­male gamers have joked: “What’s bet­ter than hav­ing a boyfriend? Hav­ing four vir­tual ones.”

Now I know why fe­male play­ers get eas­ily drawn to cer­tain games. As long as a game in­cor­po­rates cer­tain el­e­ments that ap­peal to their in­ner needs, and is easy to play, fast-paced, has a com­pelling plot and in­cludes en­gag­ing char­ac­ters, it will likely be a com­mer­cial suc­cess and the win­ner of pop­u­lar­ity con­tests.

The fact that the most pop­u­lar gam­ing de­vice today is the smart­phone un­der­pins the huge po­ten­tial of the long-un­der­es­ti­mated fe­male gam­ing mar­ket.

Stereo­types that gamers are young, nerdy males have never been fur­ther from the truth. Con­sul­tancy New­zoo says that, in China, nearly half of mo­bile gamers are women.

Yet fe­male gamers still play in a harsh fron­tier. Roughly 70 per­cent of fe­male gamers chose to play as male char­ac­ters in games rather than con­tend with sex­ual harassment, ac­cord­ing to Danielle Keats Citron, a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mary­land who re­searched cy­berspace crimes.

Peter War­man, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of New­zoo, says, “Of the women who played as men, they wanted to be treated equal on the vir­tual bat­tle­field.”

Pa­per Stu­dio, the com­pany be­hind the smash hit Love and the Pro­ducer, has reaped early gains from mostly fe­male gamers. Its im­mense tri­umph in gen­er­at­ing prof­its from Mir­a­cle

Nikki, a mo­bile ti­tle about changing out­fits, has proved that women could be a le­git­i­mate mar­ket for lu­cra­tive games.

Of course, some have cast doubt on whether the game’s pop­u­lar­ity is re­flec­tive of a flawed at­ti­tude to­ward real-life dat­ing. They be­lieve that fe­male play­ers dat­ing vir­tual men in a sim­u­lated en­vi­ron­ment smacks of con­sumerism and hypocrisy.

Some feel games ap­pear to re­in­force a view that only those women who are “cute” as de­fined by society or the games in­dus­try de­serve a “happy end­ing” to their dat­ing phase, a eu­phemism for a wealthy and pow­er­ful spouse.

Yet there’s not so much gen­der bias at play un­less you in­ter­pret it that way. Af­ter all, in a typ­i­cal ma­le­ori­ented game, you wouldn’t worry too much about be­ing a World War II war­rior who has to slaugh­ter en­e­mies all the time, would you?

“Of the women who played as men, they wanted to be treated equal on the vir­tual bat­tle­field.” PETER WAR­MAN chief ex­ec­u­tive of New­zoo

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A fe­male gamer plays on her cell­phone in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince.

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