New jobs arising from the gaming habits of GenY and Millennials
There is no doubt gaming is an increasingly popular pastime that is changing our culture little by little. Until recently, gaming was seen as a waste of time and parents opposed it. These days, it is widely accepted that a moderate amount of gaming can be very beneficial. Moderate gaming can improve mental functions and motorskills alike, proven to improve cognitive functioning, creativity, spatial awareness, hand-to-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and more. But the games of today do not match the requirements of the main audience. The typical customer is not intended for the typical product.
So, let’s look into how gaming habits have changed. What is different between millennials and Generation Y, and who is the typical gamer today? What effect does this have on students for their choice of field?
How gaming has changed between the generations
Games like Farmville and Angry Birds re-shaped the landscape and the target audience, seemingly without much notice from wider society. While it may still be the social assumption that the typical gamer is a teenage boy, surveys and studies show that this is no longer the case. PopCap Studios, a subsidiary of EA Games, surveyed almost 5000 gamers in the US and in the UK. The survey found that nearly 60% of social gamers are females with an average age of 43. This is further strengthened by statistics from THEESA (The Entertainment and Software Association), stating that 64% of all adults and 70% of all underage people participate in gaming, and that the average is between 35 and 44 years old.
Simply put: a substantial amount of us participate in gaming, and the average gamer is a 43 year old female instead of a 17 year old boy.
Now that we know who the average gamer is, we also see that marketing efforts are spent on the “wrong” audience. It should be a surprise to no-one that games are still predominantly marketed to teenagers. Teenage boys in particular. Since the average gaming product is not aimed at the average gamer, there is a vast gap between supply and demand. This opens up possibilities for females to enter into a highly profitable career. The gaming industry is filled with money and salaries are comparatively high in the gaming industry. Logical reasoning suggests that students ought to be more curious about this industry.
Male students are attracted to this field of study and employment, but females seem highly uninterested despite the sheer number of female gamers.
Female students uninterested in STEM fields
While consumer demographics have changed dramatically, the work force and student interest remain unaffected by this cultural change. Female developers or programmers are few according to the International Game Developers Association, only 3% of programmers and 11% of designers are female. This is also representative of North American students.
The statistics are clear: Canadian and U.S. female university students are not interested in programming and designing, both included in the STEM fields. According to statista.com, more than 70% of university students who study mathematics, computer sciences and information technology across Canada are male.
The gap between the producers of games, the gamer demographics, and the target audience of games leaves an unmet demand on the market, open for anyone to seize. Some gaming and gambling companies try to do it by making efforts to mend this gap.
Gaming companies efforts to attract female STEM students
The creator of FarmVille (Zynga Inc.) has made a commitment to helping female game developers. In Malta, a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea which is also the hot seat for the online gambling industry, a number of companies are trying to attract more female employees to take on jobs as programmers and game designers. A leading affiliate company in the online gambling industry promoting new casinos, recently produced a press release about their intentions of highlighting this gap to high school students about to make their choice of university.
Addressing students about to venture into universities could be one approach, but what if the underlying reason is not a lack of promotion? The “gender equality paradox” would suggest the reasons are social and biological.
Society is changing its values. Females take up more male-typical sports and more male-dominated jobs. Why STEM field students and the programming workforce is largely unexplored by females remains to be found out.