Male gamers dominate the virtual world, but more women are playing games too. According to an annual report from the Entertainment Software Association, adult women double the amount of men ages 18 and younger.
The annual "sales, demographic, and usage data" report found that women 18 and older make up 36 percent of gamers, compared to the 17 percent of boys 18 and younger. Male gamers still make up most of the population at 52 percent, but the numbers decreased by three percent since last year. The number of women gamers increased from 40 percent in 2010 to 48 percent this year.
The report also found that a 32 percent increase in women gamers over the age of 50, but the age of the average game player -- male and female -- is 31.
According to a survey from Nielson Holdings, a U.S. consumer research company, women are more likely to play games on their personal PCs, Nintendo Wii's and on their smartphones. Games like "Candy Crush Saga" and "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" are popular games that attract women.
"[Many] women who previously only gamed with their families are now embracing gaming as an individual leisure activity as well," Nielsen analyst Nicole Pike says.
Women spend 31 percent more money on smartphone games compared to their male counterparts. However, according to the data from The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), women and men spilt the category of "frequent game purchases."
While "casual/social game" use rose 55 percent, a lack of data makes it hard to determine just how much the spike is linked to the increase of women who play games.
"We see a big and fast increase in female players, over all genres," says Fredrik Rundqvist, a games producer.
Couples play also entices more women to play games. "We've done studies on this and, interestingly, we notice that many couples seem to be playing games like Assassin's Creed together," says Ubisoft executive Alain Corre.
Developers at Ubisoft scratched the option of gamers being able to play the upcoming Assassin's Creed Unity game as a female character. The company says developing women characters would take too much work, and instead settled on including a nonplaying Templar warrior named Elise.
Electronics Arts Inc. will release "The Sims 4" in the coming weeks, a role playing game where half the players are women. "It's a demographic that clearly loves to play games," says 'The Sims 4' executive producer Rachel Franklin. "Women make up a huge part of the available gaming audience and it's up to developers to decide whether or not to reach them out."
According to the ESA, "The Sims 3" and its expansion packs made the top-20 list of top-selling computer games.
Game developers are targeting more women and expect to generate $100 billion in sales this year.