There was a report done a few years back that said over 60% of Americans are gamers of some kind (Monopoly and Sorry are games and do count). Of this percentage, over 50% were women. But you wouldn’t know that from walking into most of your local game stores.
Ten years ago if you walked down the game aisle at Target you would see Checkers, Monolopy, Game of Life, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, etc. But today you will see such geeky games as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride Europe, Fluxx, and Smash Up (among others), games you normal do not find unless you visit your local game store.
Most people buy a game, take it home, and only play with family, or friends who come to visit. This is the way I grew up. As an adult with children, though, I have discovered the joys of my local game store. Did you know, you can bring your board games to a store and play with people there? You don’t have to listen to your kids whine because they are being forced to play with you again. You don’t have to wait until your friends are available to come over.
My game store, Abubika, is wonderful. It has a community for almost anything game related you could possibly be interested in playing. Miniature games, dice games, living card games, collectible card games, and board games. In fact, you will find a huge selection of board games available to play for free (which is pretty standard in most game stores I have visited). There are even RPG groups you can join.
But, walk into any game store in the country and you will see mostly men and boys. If you walk in the gaming area of a Con you will see the same. Yet this study indicates that over half of all gamers are women. Where are we?!
I suffer from pretty severe social anxiety. I had to down medication before heading to my game store for the first few months. I have gone into stores ready to play and been completely ignored in the past, so this was expectation going to my game store the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to find a warm and welcoming crowd which welcomed me and my geeky interests with open arms.
We have been playing here for over a year now. Some days we even being both of the littles (aged 7 and 9 years old). Our 9yo even plays WarmaHordes with other adults in the store. She also loves to play Magic with us at home.
We are seeing more women come into the game store lately and I am loving the change. But the question in the forefront of my mind is, what can game stores do to bring more females into their stores and keep them? How can we promote a community of social female gamers?