Los Angeles Times

Monday, May 25, 1998

Few Makers of Video Games Are Playing to Women
Trends: Most marketing and design is still aimed at teenage boys. But a few firms are beginning to alter their strategies.
By JENNIFER OLDHAM, Times Staff Writer


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Although the market for video games is rapidly expanding into new niches, gaming companies have yet to capture the attention and the enormous spending power of adult women.
One of the themes of the fourth annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which opens Thursday in Atlanta, is sure to be the video game market's movement away from its dependence on teenage boys and toward a wider audience.
The popularity of sub-$1,000 PCs has prompted developers to attempt to appeal to nontraditional players by creating games such as WizardWorks' smash hit "Deer Hunter" and numerous titles for younger girls.
Even though the time is ripe to broaden the $5.1-billion video game software market, few companies are making an effort to design games that appeal to women or to aggressively target women through advertising.
"The market is there, the desire of women is there, but today's titles don't appeal to them," said Walter Miao, a senior vice president at New York-based market research firm Access Media International.
Research shows women prefer puzzle games, such as "Tetris" or "Myst," and find violent video games boring. But video game firms say designing and marketing games strictly for women isn't cost-effective.
"We don't like to talk about gender as much as we like to talk about genre, like racing, sports, adventure, fighting and puzzle games," said Lee McEnany Caraher, vice president of communications at Sega. "Depending on the person, they will seek the game that's good for them."
This approach illustrates how the market for women's games is unlikely to break open without a strong woman-oriented title, analysts say.


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