'Women are the new core,' says Microsoft narrative designer

"The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it," says Tom Abernathy.

A narrative writer for Microsoft Studios has said that "women are the new core" and that creating more diverse stories, including more female characters and ethnicities, will make for better games.

Speaking as part of a presentation at GDC 2013 (written up by GamesIndustry and Polygon), Tom Abernathy--who has worked on Halo: Reach, The Saboteur, and Destroy All Humans--said the games industry hasn't kept up with today's social culture and that the market for video games is changing at a pace that developers and publishers aren't keeping up with.

"Our audience is leaving us behind," Abernathy said. "The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it."

Abernathy pointed to various studies that show the diverse makeup of modern gamers, including research by the Entertainment Software Association and casual game developer PopCap which states that adult women now make up 30 per cent of US gamers.

"Women are not a small special market on the fringe of the core," Abernathy said. "Women are the new core."

Abernathy also said that more diverse games would be good for the business of the games industry, because more diversity would bring in a wider audience and therefore generate more money. "But you need to persuade people that it's OK, and won't hurt sales but might help them," he said.

"Nobody in the room admits to being against making characters female or nonwhite," he added. "But they're scared because they don't know how to defend that choice to their bosses."

"Our industry, our art, and our business stand to gain in every sense simply by holding a mirror up to our audience and reflecting their diversity in what we produce," Abernathy said.



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Last updated September 19, 2018 Views 15 Applies to:

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I haved know from some time that women are not minor group now. It now the GLBT are the minor group of gamers in the whole world.

Women have been playing games for a long time, it's nothing new. I grew up with no brothers or sisters and just a few male cousins, the female cousins all were avid gamers who could beat Mario or dish out butt whoopins in Mortal Kombat. When I joined the Army I met quite a few women who loved playing games as well. I see nothing wrong with women being on the frontlines in battle or the leads in video games. Both are long overdue.

What is the point of this thread?

[quote user="Rogstah Junior"]

What is the point of this thread?

[/quote]Something to think about.

It is something to think about. Just look at the people in this forum who still think that female gamers only make up less than 20 percent of gamers. In reality its closer to 40 percent.

it's no where near 40%. all these studies consider random girl who played mario kart that one time a "gamer"; and that is the why there is such a weird skew in the data. to say otherwise is naive at best. i'm not saying all main characters should be men or anything, i think we should have options.


but saying women are the new core?  gamers are the core, gender has nothing to do with it, i doubt any guy or girl gamer would avoid a game based on the gender of the main character.


when figuring out who is a gamer and who isn't they need to ask on average how many hours do they play a week not counting mobile or facebook games to get the data. if we go by mobile data my sister is a gamer, even though she hasn't played much besides silly iphone games in the last year.


I know it's not the best , but at Pax bioware had a statistics thing, and it said in mass effect something like 80% of the shepards played were men, i know for a fact many guys play as girl characters as well and i'd imagine the vice versa cancels it out, but taking that as it is 20% of the people who played ME were women compared to the other being men.

I do hear you on that and another PopCap survey says 44% of people (not just gamers) are in fact playing mobile games. My girlfriend would fall into this catagory and while she plays Facebook slots from her iPhone and gas a monthly subscription to Big Fish Games where she plays Hidden Object games on the PC, I really couldn't call her a gamer. I'm pretty sure she would fall into that catagory though even though she absoutely despises my gaming habits.

But even with all that aside, actual gaming is much more popular among the female audience than it used to be. Could I call it 40%? Doubtful since a female voice is a rare find in Xbox Live and PSN games. But the userbase is definitely growing. Especially since female characters are appearing in games as more than big breasted bimbos. Even Laura Croft has seen a change from her old image which was marketed for a male audience.

But now here lies the question. Do you think Microsoft is willing to make AAA games with more female options or will it be limited to the causal consumer while shutting out females who would like a choice in their lead characters gender? And of course this doesn't only apply to Microsoft since I was in a pretty big thread on another board about women wanting female character options for a game like Battlefield now that females are allowed to fight along side of men in real life. This I think could work as long as they wouldn't take the lazy route and stick a female skin on a player with male movements.

US, you need to actually look up studies and not just spew out what you believe based on little to no knowledge.

Actually the studies don't consider some girl who played Mario kart one time, they consider people who own gaming devices.

And why wouldn't you consider mobile gaming? mobile gaming is huge. Not to mention the majority of mobile users are male. So you really think that Vita and 3DS shouldn't be included? give me a break.

Going off stats from one game, even as popular as mass effect is ridiculous. youd have to be assuming 100 percent of female gamers bought ME and they all used female characters.....That's far , far from the truth.Just a ridiculous argument.

I know you for some reason hate to see it, but female gamer numbers are higher than ever and continue to rise. Developers now have to make games appeal to not only men but also the large and growing number of female gamers.

Look at gears of war. no females in multiplayer until gears 3. Do you think that was to get young boys to buy the game so they could use and drool over Anya, or maybe it was so female gamers had some representation in the game as well?

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