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According to data collected by Quantic Foundry in 2016, the primary motivations why people play video games differ, on average, by gender.

While men frequently want most to compete with others and destroy things, women often want most to complete challenges and immerse themselves in other worlds: Although commercial hits such as Myst and The Sims appealed to women, these were nonetheless seen by some as being outside the gaming mainstream.

The incorrect conclusion that could be drawn from this result—that men dislike violent games—may also be comparable to incorrect conclusions drawn from some female-oriented gaming studies.

This has begun to change, however, with the expansion of entrepreneurial feminism and the concept of "games by girls for girls" that has been embraced by companies such as Her Interactive, Silicon Sisters and Purple Moon—all video gaming start ups that are female owned and largely female staffed.

The term "girl gamer" has been used as a reappropriated term for female players to describe themselves, but it has also been criticized as counterproductive or offensive.

In 2008, a Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that among teens, 65% of men and 35% of women describe themselves as daily gamers.

According to a 2017 report by the video game analytics company Quantic Foundry, based on surveys of about 270,000 gamers, the following proportions of gamers within a genre are women or men, respectively: In-game activities may also differ between the sexes in games with less linear plots such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

contributes to a feeling that they should edit their femininity in order to maintain credibility as a gamer, and that they must fit into the caricatured role of the "girl gamer" in order to be accepted.

After making a bad game that targets those areas suggested by the marketing research, the game's lack of popularity among both genders is often attributed to the incorrect prejudice that "girls don't play games" rather than the true underlying problems such as poor quality and playability of the game.

Whereas market data and research are important to reveal that markets exist, argues Kelly, they shouldn't be the guiding factor in how to make a game that appeals to girls.

In Japan the rise of cute culture and its associated marketing has made gaming accessible for girls, and this trend has also carried over to Taiwan and recently China (both countries previously having focused mostly on MMOs and where parents usually place harsher restrictions on daughters than on sons).

An aspect of game design that has been identified as negatively impacting female interest is the degree of expertise with gaming conventions and familiarity with game controls required to play the game.

The argument has also been advanced that emphasis on market research is often skewed by the participants in the study.

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