Women Gamers on the Increase

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

An Entertainment Software Association report states that there are more women gamers than there are boys 17 years and younger who game play in the US.

That will come as a surprise to many at the E3 conference in Los Angeles where there are few female lead characters to be seen in the latest games, and many of the stands still employ booth babes to grab attention.

The face of gaming 2013.

Female gamers are to be seen at E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. But they are few and far between.

Nyko develops and makes products for the digital market, specializing in interactive entertainment and consumer electronics plus online and wireless technologies.

Their brand here stands out - with booth babes enticing customers, clad in high heeled boots and skimpy outfits.

For Jess Sylvia, a Product Specialist at Nyko, there is a plus side to the lack of women at this year's show:

"The line to the bathroom's pretty short compared to the men's bathroomm, which is great for us as product demonstrators here. However, I think the thing is E3 is not a consumer event. It's a trade event, it's an industry event. And as much women love to game and are buying 45% of the market, the industry is still men primarily."

The Entertainment Software Association has released a report to coincide with the Electronic Entertainment Expo that says women are a bigger segment of the game-playing population than boys 17-years-old and younger.

Lara Da Costa and Deann Hinajosa, both avid gamers and "Legend of Zelda" fans say they would like more shooter games targeted at women.

Nintendo's Legend of Zelda is an action packed adventure game that centres around the character 'Link' who often has to rescue Princess Zelda.

EA's Battlefield 4 is a multiplayer, hands on game that involves assault choppers, tanks, gunships and military manoeuvres.

Game developers say they get requests from fans to allow players to choose a female avatar or to create female characters, as Lars Gustavsson, the Creative Director for Electronic Arts' "Battlefield 4" explains: "It's a feature request that keeps coming up. In 'Battlefield 4' you're playing male soldiers. We haven't added female soldiers."

Ubisoft's Watch Dogs is an action adventure game based on a lead male character, Aiden Pearce. He can hack into various city operating systems in an alternative reality to Chicago, Illinois.

The trailer, seen here at E3, depicts a seedy underbelly of crime, smoke filled clubs and naked women.

At the other end of the scale, Disney Infinity, which will be released in August, is based around characters from movies primarily aimed at children.

Sega provided a glitzy launch for its Turbo HD remix which comes with a complete graphic overhaul.

On the red carpet, actress Michelle Rodriguez, explains why she's tired of some fighter games:

"I'm all about first-man shooters. I got tired of pressing the buttons. It was like the fighter games just turned into who could press the buttons faster? I win! And then my fingers would get sore and I was like, this sucks! This is like wack."

EA's Mirror's Edge is another urban themed game in which runners transport sensitive data . As a player you are a runner called Faith. When Faith's sister is framed for a murder she didn't commit Faith finds herself on the wrong side of the law.

Peter Moore, from Electronic Arts, says Faith comes from a long line of strong female character leads:

"It's not that I've never thought of Faith as a woman. Faith is the strong lead character in that game, who happens to be a woman. We can go back to Lara Croft and wherever you want to go with feminine lead characters here."

"It's not making some political statement that women need to be in there and she's a token chick. It's Faith - that's what she does and she's great at doing it."

But anyone at E3 this year couldn't fail to notice the booth babes lined up - although some, like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park" claim not to have noticed them: "Did not see them. Did not look at them. They were there but I did not look at them. There is a lot of booth babes here but we walked right by them and we're like, we're married and we're not looking at them and so we didn't. Hehehe."

The 17th E3 has been shaped by the battle between the next-generation consoles.

Organizers say 48,200 video game industry professionals, analysts, journalists and retailers attended the show.

How many of them will be women in 2014 remains to be seen.

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