Web3 games are focusing on community building, aesthetics, customization and representation to attract female users — but is this enough?
Although there is still an apparent lack of women in the Web3 sector, blockchain-based games geared toward women may help drive inclusivity. A recent report from the Entertainment Software Association found that 48% of gamers in the United States identify as female. It has also been noted that nearly half of all gamers in the world are women. The interest that women have taken in the billion-dollar gaming sector is notable. This, combined with the massive growth being projected by the GameFi industry, is a key reason why a number of Web3 games are being built specifically for female users.
Beryl Chavez Li, co-founder of Yield Guild Games — a global play-to-earn gaming community — told Cointelegraph that she believes blockchain-based games like Axie Infinity have started to see an uptick in women players. “Although statistics show that play-to-earn games appeal more to male users, we believe that more women will start to take an interest,” she said.
Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, further told Cointelegraph that finance and Web3 games are closely related, noting that over time, this will naturally attract all types of people to the space. Yet he believes that women, in particular, will be drawn in given their tendency for greater financial responsibility. “This is particularly evident in developing countries where microfinance and specifically microlending is led predominantly by women,” he remarked.
Web3 games incorporate features to attract women
A number of Web3 games are coming to fruition with the goal of appealing to a predominantly female audience. For example, Fashion League is a free, play-to-earn mobile game that allows users to develop their own fashion empire. Theresia Le Battistini, CEO and founder of Fashion League, told Cointelegraph that the game allows users to create virtual clothing lines that could eventually be sold as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, while brands can leverage the game to display digital products: “We believe that everything will be gamified in the future, as our statistics have found that the gaming market will exceed $300 billion by 2027. Web3 games need to be inclusive.”
To drive female participation, Le Battistini explained that Fashion League contains certain features that are naturally appealing to women. “The aesthetics of the game are important, along with the fact that it will first be accessible on mobile devices. Women like to play games on mobile, as there is a low barrier to entry,” she explained. Recent statistics show that 62% of people install a game on their phone within a week of owning it. Moreover, these findings note that the current mobile gaming gender split is 51% for women and 49% for men. Regarding aesthetics, a report from The Female Quotient found this to be the most important factor i attracting women to the Web3 space.
Chavez Li, who serves on Fashion League’s advisory board, further pointed out that many Web3 games focus on first- and third-person shooter games, yet lack creativity. She noted that Fashion League encourages individuals to create digital items, which can eventually evolve into sellable NFTs. “We are enabling the creator economy through a fun game. The more users play, the more points they can earn. In-game cash can then be exchanged for tokens that can be converted to fiat,” she said. Chavez Li also mentioned that players can compete and interact with each other during events like fashion shows, adding a layer of socialization to the game.
In addition to Fashion League, Mishi McDuff, founder of digital fashion brand Blueberry, told Cointelegraph that the company launched a 3D boutique shopping experience on the gaming platform Roblox. Known as “BlueberryXWorld,” McDuff explained that the Web3 game was designed to create a fun and safe environment for gamers to explore their digital identity:
“Avatars can browse Blueberry’s two-story boutique and try on clothing and accessories. The clean lines and silhouettes of the collections are juxtaposed with flints of attitude such as miniskirts, crop tops and party girl metallics, along with fun accessories such as cat backpacks. In addition, a variety of hairstyles are available for further customization.”
Like Fashion League, BlueberryXWorld was created entirely by female designers and developers. While McDuff noted that the game can be enjoyed by everyone, she believes that this element ensures female creators are able to have their perspectives heard. She elaborated: “In most traditional games, you see women represented in such an unrealistic way: no cellulite, no stretch marks, no body fat. Our avatars have love handles, stretch marks, and all the other things that make us human.”
McDuff also pointed out that community is an underlying principle of the game, which she believes will greatly appeal to women: “Players can stop by the cafe to grab a drink and chat with one another. Women have always had a knack for building strong, close-knit communities, so it will be no surprise to see this in Web3.”
Lenny Pettersson, chief operating officer of Antler Interactive — a Sweden-based mobile game studio — and acting CEO of “My Neighbor Alice,” told Cointelegraph that some of the most important features behind the Web3 game focus on player collaboration and in-game connections. Pettersson explained that the game allows users to gather resources to shape an archipelago together. Pettersson shared that player collaboration has already become apparent in the game’s Discord channel, noting that players write messages and post screenshots to the channel indicating where to find the best places to fish, for example.
Given this type of community involvement, Pettersson explained that much of the inspiration behind My Neighbor Alice has been drawn from traditional games that have been popular among a female target audience. For example, he noted that the art style plays a big part here. “A colorful and playful art style resembling a fairytale is intentional.”
While aesthetics, customization and community building are all important features for attracting women to Web3, better representation is also critical. Marcus Bläsche, CEO and co-founder of Rumble Kong League (RKL) — a game that combines basketball, play-to-earn and NFTs — told Cointelegraph that basketball and Web3, unfortunately, both share the challenge of thunderrepresentation of female users. To combat this, Bläsche explained that RKL recently partnered with Round 21, a woman-led Web3 native sports lifestyle brand with an emphasis on collaboration and community.
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According to Bläsche, this partnership has helped to launch a new NFT game collection called “The Rookies,” which creates an even split of male and female “rookies” to ensure female athletes are represented in Web3. Jasmine Maietta, founder of Round21, told Cointelegraph that the organization is specifically helping RKL create equal opportunities for anyone — no matter their gender, ethnicity or social background, adding:
“We believe that the Web3 world provides a unique opportunity to create a fair and equal ecosystem from scratch. Our Rookie collection is the first step in this direction, putting male and female athletes on the same page, and we plan to continue this narrative with anything we do in the future.”
Will games increase women’s participation in Web3?
All things considered, it’s still difficult to determine if Web3 games geared toward women will actually result in increased participation. For instance, Pettersson believes this is a tough question to answer as of now. Yet, he noted that it would be sufficient to say that high-quality Web3 games geared toward women will have an impact on bringing more women into the sector: “The first “Web2” games were specifically designed and oriented toward boys and men. Over the decades more and more games were designed for girls and women.”
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With this in mind, he believes that the Web3 sector is already aware that women like games and want to be involved, thus taking a heightened focus on this gender class. However, Pettersson added that it will be difficult to determine the real impact these games will have, noting:
“The challenge for Web3 games is also tied to the mass adoption of crypto, which is not specifically related to a gender question, but rather to a worldwide mass adoption of crypto. And there’s still a way to go when it comes to accessibility and user-friendliness for that to happen.”
Siu also commented that games are becoming less gender-dependent, while Maietta remarked that Web3 has the opportunity to base its culture on intentional inclusiveness. While notable, it’s important to recognize that the Web3 gaming space is still underway. As such, some in the industry believe that developers are currently more focused on building out the ecosystem rather than inclusivity. For example, Olga Ivanova, content and community manager at Spielworks — a blockchain gaming platform — told Cointelegraph that she believes Web3 game devs are more concerned with “creating robust in-game economies and elevating the game design to at least the AAA standard.”