EA: Women 'too big an audience to ignore'

While underlining the female demographic's importance at the Women in Games Conference, EA VP Sharon Knight said developers should avoid making games that only target women.

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NEWPORT, Wales--Electronic Arts vice president of Europe Online, Sharon Knight, believes that if game developers and publishers were to ignore the female audience, it would be "a great waste." Knight was the first speaker at this year's Women In Games Conference at the University of Wales, the fourth such annual event.

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Making games which appeal to both genders will only increase the success of the medium, she believes, and create potentially hugely successful titles. She gave the example of the film Titanic, which surpassed Star Wars as the most successful movie of all time, because "women loved it, they went to see it in droves, they went to see it multiple times."

That said, Knight thinks it's a mistake to try to create games solely for a female audience. "If you look at how other media forms have tapped into women, for example, you don't see movies and music being exclusive to men," She said. "Women enjoy all forms of entertainment. We [at EA] want to avoid making 'pink games.' Women enjoy many of the same features in gameplay as men do. The way EA sees it is there's a lot of untapped potential out there."

Knight believes a big reason the Wii has been successful is that women find it more accessible than other consoles. "The Wii levels the playing field," she said. "You don't embarrass yourself--you can grab it and right away start having fun. ... [Wii games] don't require the same investment to learn and to master how to pick up and play [as other consoles' games]."

EA's The Sims, one of the most popular franchises of all time, has a 65 percent female audience, said Knight. However, she admitted the series' success was more of a happy accident. "No, Will [Wright, the creator of the game] was definitely not targeting the game at women," she said, laughing. "It just resonated. I think it was at the brink of the whole 'who do you want to be?' trend. You can make an avatar that you play as yourself, as a character that looks a lot like you, or you can be somebody wildly different. Now you're seeing that everywhere."

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