Are games aimed at girls real games?

Over here in the Netherlands, it’s still holiday for the school kids. When my daughter was much younger the school holidays meant having to find a suitable place her to spend the day while I was out to work. It never posed a problem though, with loving grandparents and sisters-in-laws who had the same challenge. So when my daughter spent a day at her aunts, I had her daughter over when I had the day off from work. Worked perfectly.

Gaming Aunt

In those days the DS was launched, along with Nintendogs. What a marvel that was, two screens to play on, no button mashing but ticking with your stylus and real interaction: the dog really recognized you! While my daughter and all but one of her cousins never where into gaming before, the barrier to dive in was lifted with the arrival of the DS.

It was around that time that I started my gaming life with Animal Crossing, and before long I had the girls just as enthusiastic as I was. That was the start of our gaming-days: one day in the school holidays that I had all the girls over, and we would spend the day gaming together around our large kitchen table. And to top it off, I would make pancakes for lunch. We would visit each other’s towns, give gifts, walk with our Nintendogs, trade Pokémon and ship Piñata’s back and forth. I got the honorary nick-name of Gaming Aunt!

Gaming afternoon, girls gaming, gaming aunt10 years later now, and a lot has changed.
No more gaming days. I was reminded of them when one of my nieces texted me two weeks ago that she had bought Pokémon ORAS on holiday. She hardly has time to game anymore, but with lots of free time on her hands these weeks, she was happy to dive right back in. Where her sister never upgraded from the DS Phat, and my daughter and my other niece hardly touch games anymore, she is still enthusiastic.

Why do girls abandon gaming?

I wondered why, why is it that most girls abandon gaming, while lots of boys stay with it and keep on gaming, whether on a Nintendo device or any other console. Why don’t girls keep gaming, just for the fun of it? The writer of this article has an interesting theory, and although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I agree with her on all accounts, she does have a point in writing that the games that appeal to younger girls are automatically disqualified by the gamer community. Because they are colorful and sweet, or are because the game represents a happy world, or maybe even just because girls like them?

If you read my blogs on a regular basis you won’t be surprised that I consider all these games real and good games, I even played a lot of them myself. Maybe it’s just that I had no notion starting on my gaming adventure that some games are supposed to be inferior. As if games like Style Savvy, Nintendogs, Cooking Mama and Animal Crossing aren’t real games! And as if girls that play them aren’t real gamers.

To me all games are playable, they are all worthy of being played if anyone wants to, and those who play them are all gamers in my book! And I urge any girl playing those games, to just keep doing that and enjoy the experience. A lady friend of mine remarked the other day that her daughter was so caught up in Minecraft, making the most beautiful things in creative mode. And I can only say: keep on gaming, use your imagination. And most of all, enjoy the experience without a single thought of what others might think of girls gaming!


  1. Thank you for this article. It helped me to start a new board on Pinterest.
    I like this article a lot. Now I know I am a gamer thanks to you.

  2. Great article. I do have to add that one of the good things I have observed from mobile gaming is seeing more girls and women play them, since the sense of “this gaming genre is superior to this one” doesn’t seem to be there too much yet. So playing a fun puzzle game or a cute game is as good as playing clash of titans and other games, it’s just a matter of which you prefer to kill a few minutes of your day.

    I also wonder if which gaming era you grew up in also influences you. When I began gaming on my own and not with my sister, it was the very early playstation days, where platformer games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro were the thing at the time, even if they were easy and rather cute. Everyone could play those games and be a real gamer. Fastfoward to, say, the late 2000’s where gritty and copy pasted FPS where the only thing AAA games seemed to care about, and anyone who’s not into that is automatically called a casual noob, and I can see girls not wanting to put up with that and then miss out on finding something else they could have liked.

    It also might have helped that I grew up with a tomboy-ish older sister that got me into gaming when I was 3 so she could have someone to play fighting games with 😛 So as a result I got exposed to a lot of games, from cutesy ones like a Tom & Jerry game to serious ones like Tomb Raider, so to me everything that is functional and fun is a game like any other.

    Funnily enough (sorry for the tangent), I grew up to play harder games like Demon Souls and 80 hours long RPGs, while my sister now likes lighter games like little big planet and the occasional Ratchet and Clank. Doesn’t matter to me, she’s as much of a gamer as I am, and I still love to get together with her and play Soul Calibur 🙂

  3. It’s an interesting topic and I bet everyone has their own story.
    When growing up I didn’t have much gaming, only what my cousins passed down to me. It was only when I got my first job at 20 that I went out and bought a psp with my first paycheck, that’s when I started to truly game regularly.
    For many years the only gamers I knew were girls so I’ve never really felt like “girls don’t game”

    1. So you were first and foremost a PSP gamer? To me it was Nintendo in the beginning, but for no other reason then that it was my daughters device of choice with Nintendogs!
      I never felt either, that I was strange to game, and at first, in the AnimalCrossing Community, the majority of players were women!

      1. Yeah, I had a psp and then a little while later got a PS3. I have a PSVita now which I still like to play but the majority of my favourite games are on PS3/4.
        I never knew there was a “girls don’t game” assumption going around until the Internet started to talk about it, lol.

  4. Thankfully I never experienced any peer pressure from my classmates about games, not from the guys who liked shooters and not from the girls who didn’t play any games. Also, my family was always very supportive of it, always buying me games and the new consoles. I guess because it was always easy to give me a gift and they thought it was better to game than staying out late like other teens. Also my mom also played games when she had time, mainly space invaders with my sister when that game first came out on console and now tons of puzzle games on mobile and my handhelds.

    It was only when I came into the online community that I started to feel excluded. Fan service ridden games rarely faze me, but I have never gamed online, even with the fighting games I enjoy. Thankfully, talking about the games in forums and blogs has been a positive experience. The RPG and niche (mostly-handheld) games communities seem much more interested about having a fun experience with the game than to put down others.

    But things have been getting better. We now have many more games with gender options and when a big AAA game drops that support (like Assassin’s Creed) there’s enough outrage for a company to notice. There are many discussions about making things better for women in gaming and I feel that people do mean it. Sure, there will always be jerks, but things in the community are slowly getting better.

    1. I agree, things are getting better. I didn’t feel as happy in the Vita forums as I did on Nintendo themed forums, but overall I’ve never got any negative reaction to my being there.

      How cool that your mother plays too. Did you infect her with the gaming bug, or not?

  5. My mother had the gaming bug long before I was born, since there is almost a decade of age difference between me and my sister :p I did help help her get back into it though, since after she began working she abandoned gaming because she felt an adult woman like her should spend her time on other things, even though I know she always liked the gameboy games I picked out and they would be perfect for her, since she hates waiting at places like the doctor. I guess she thought it’d be embarrassing to play by herself. But I encouraged her little by little, and now she knows that she really enjoys it and has no hesitation to ask for my handhelds or help finding a new mobile game. Now she doesn’t mind waiting at the doctor’s office any more. Now that I think about it, it’s kinda sad that she felt she got too old for it, I know a lot of people who think like that. But I’m glad she managed to get into it again, and I’m glad you are able to enjoy your journey into gaming long after childhood too.

    1. You are lucky, to grow up with a mom who plays games. There’s nothing better then to be able to play games with someone. And with your mom, how cool is that! It’s a great way to spend otherwise lost time at the doctors and such, so if she wants to combine useful with fun, it’s real gaming on the go!

      1. Yes, I know I’m incredibly lucky 🙂 The only real challenge is to find games that she doesn’t need to read to understand, since so few games are translated in our language. Hmm, I have a question for you, does minecraft need a lot of reading?

  6. Great article I really enjoy reading them, I think the issue there isn’t a follow on from nintendogs or animals crossing.. Where are the ‘adult’ games aimed at girls, there aren’t any really (I know that girls do play GTA, COD extra). I guess that would be my thoughts of why there is such a drop off. Though when I think of it I can’t really think what a good ‘adult’ girl game would be, not a Japaneses dating sim hopefully.

    1. Lol, no dating Sim. But what then? Most of my lady gamer friends enjoy Animal Crossing very much. Maybe the Sims, isn’t that aimed at women? Somehow the industry seems to think women are mainly interested in puzzle games, like Layton or Brain trainer. Just remember the various commercials for the DS, with a lady like Nicole Kidman playing such a game.

      1. I feel like now days the Sims is certainly aimed at woman, as its normally a 12+.

        With Animal crossing I think it’s a happy accident that children and grown up love it, I personally love there sayings think they are very funny. I hope more ladies will play games with their past time as they are very relaxing. 😀

  7. My native language is Portuguese, which is sadly not one of the languages that usually gets translations in Europe and Spanish is not as similar as some people think. Thank you for the information about minecraft, I’ll download the vita demo and see if my mom likes it.

    1. Ah, Portuguese, I can imagine that is quite a challenge at times. Same here, we never have translated games in Dutch, but English is taught at school.

      Let me know what she thinks!

  8. Personally I believe every game is for both genders, most games encorperate both genders letting you choose. I personally love games where you can create yourself! Games like dragon age and dragons dogma

    1. Me too, I like it too that most games allow you to chose if you wanna play as a girl or a boy. But I don’t like it that some people tend to say games like Animal Crossing, Magicians Quest and Nintendogs aren’t real games! I haven’t heard of the games you mentioned yet, I’ll check them out.

      1. Have you ever played Life is Strange!? To me it is a game aimed at teenage girls as everything is from a girls perspective and it is a mystery thriller in 5 parts. Only part four is out yet and it’s amazng! It’s a game every gender loves!

  9. To answer the question in the post title, games are games. All games are real games. They’re certainly not fake games, they are interactive entertainment. Games. Anyone who tries to classify a game as not a real game is simply trying to exclude others from their hobby and it’s just plain wrong. Can you read a book that’s not a “real book”? Watch a movie that’s not a “real movie”? Listen to a song that’s not a “real song”?

    I think part of why girls who game can grow up to be women who don’t is because games targeted at girls are also often thought of as targeting a younger audience, targeting children. But then again there are grown women gamers who very much enjoy games that are said to cater to males. Are those women liking a thing that wasn’t meant for them?

    Sadly, I think there can be a lot of social pressures and assumptions put on us as to what is appropriate for us to like and be interested in based on a number of ridiculous conditions. My wife has often been assumed to have been buying a game for me, or picking up my comic books. And she knows that’s the assumption because it’s voiced. The truth is, she is buying our game and picking up our comic books because we are both interested in some of the same things.

    Today there are so many gaming options and truly something for every taste. And every year that becomes more and more the case. Wouldn’t it be nice one day if everyone could just like the thing that they liked without anyone else considering whether or not it was “valid”?

    1. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked whether I want to buy a game as a gift for my kid! Maybe it’s because I’ve been in this gaming world for some years now, and love connecting through the Internet to others, but I’ve found quite a lot of ladies who still game. And although most love Animal Crossing, their gaming habits aren’t stopping there. Most have multiple consoles and play a variety of games. I know the gaming industry focuses on their largest audience group, but they would do well to heed this part of the population for the future!

  10. I started gaming with a Commodore 64. My Daughter was around 5 at the time. I casually picked up a game off a bargain table in a store, purchased, took it home. It was Bubble Bobble, two player gaming. My Daughter loved it. And that was how we would spend our evenings together. It evolved into fighting games on the Super Nintendo. If you had of walked up to our door during one of those sessions, you would have thought an actual fight was happening in the house with all the yelling that was taking place. Bomberman became a Family affair. My Daughter is now 32 and still a gamer with her 3DS and PS3. Right now it is Skylanders and Infinity. So I am thinking that it does have to do with how you are influenced as you grow up. People use to look at me oddly when they found out I was a gamer due to my age. But I think that has gradually changed and I think that was due to the influence of the Wii and how it impacted the gaming community. I will never forget being in a Gamestop some years ago, in line, behind a couple of ladies that were in their 60’s plus. I found it humorous as I listened in on their conversation as they were discussing the Wii games they play.

    1. The best gaming experiences are when you can enjoy it with the family. As I wrote about the Gaming Days that I hosted with my daughter and nieces, those where the most fun times I had in my Animal Crossing Village. And I played Harry Potter on the Gamecube with my husband, night after night. Even during the day at work, we couldn’t wait to go on out adventure! Good to hear that your daughter is still gaming!
      I think you’re right that the Wii has really changed the way people look at gaming. Why, even in some elderly care centers there’s a Wii, ready to play some bowling!

  11. I remember in high school I only meet 2 girls that played video games. Others would say “Oh I think my brother plays that game”. Since college I’ve met a little bit more. I do wish the gamer community would stop obsessing with what a ‘real’ game is and what isn’t. Instead focus on the variety of games especially with more indie type of games on the rise. I think those will fill more of the niches that are missing from the mainstream games.

    1. It does seem that we are making headway, slowly but surely. We should just agree that if a person likes to play a video game, it’s just that: a video game! No discussion!

  12. I love games. I have and I play every day. If you are not familiar with Pogo, you can chat while you play. The games can be played solo or with partners depending on the game. My hubby likes the slots that are available through

    I believe the era you were brought up in has an impact on what type of games you like.

    I play them for entertainment and interaction.

    1. I don’t know Pogo, but I think I know what you mean. That’s what got me so hooked on Animal Crossing ten years ago. We had an active group of players all over the world, and Wild World was one of the first games where you could visit each other’s town. Never ceased to amaze me, when I opened my gates, my American or English friend’s character walked in, and we could chat. Such great times we had! So, socializing is a very important part of my gaming!

We love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.