Adam Ruins Everything - Why People Think Video Games Are Just for Boys


Published on Nov 30, 2015Adam reveals how Nintendo’s early marketing plan resulted in video games being pushed toward one gender.


I don’t buy it. Not sure how much of the burden NES era Nintendo really shoulders here though. I think that Hollywood has a lot to do with it too.

When you look at pre-NES era depictions of gamers, they all tended to be male. Look at movies like “WarGames” (1983), “Cloak & Dagger” (1984), “The Last Starfighter” (1984), or that Pac-Man episode of the TV show “Square Pegs” (1982). Gamers were typically depicted as sweaty, nerdy loner boys. Before the NES even hit shelves, Hollywood had already crafted this stereotype of what a gamer was right down to the gender.

If you ask me, Nintendo’s marketing choices in the West were dictated by the messages that they were getting from Hollywood.

I also think, if we’re being brutally realistic here, Hollywood was crafting that stereotype based on the jobs market and gender roles in the 70s and early 80s.

We sort of take for granted the sheer number of women in the workforce these days. While they had been in the workforce for many years already, many households in the 70s and early 80s were still sustained via one income, usually the husband. Women were coming into their own for sure, but not nearly as aggressively as in the late 80s or early 90s.

So, it would then make sense that Hollywood and game manufacturers of the time would follow the money, especially since women were still earning crap money (worse than today) and gaming was still a very expensive hobby (also worse than today).

By today’s standards, that sexist and close minded. In the world of 1972-1983, that was just about right though.

That video gives post-crash Nintendo far more credit than it deserves, tbh. If Nintendo deserves any credit for gender stereotyping then it’s for its PRE-NES stuff. Seriously. Look at it some of its pre-NES arcade stuff.

  • Wild Gunman
  • Battle Shark
  • Sheriff
  • Hellfire
  • Donkey Kong
  • Popeye
  • Mario Bros
  • Punch Out
  • Hogan’s Alley

Notice some patterns here? Male protagonists. Damsels in distress. Gun violence heavy antics. If Nintendo is to (share) blame for gender skewing the market and creating a stereotype then it’s certainly guilty, but FAR earlier than the NES or that marketing. Nintendo’s sins go as far back as their arcade roots.

Pre-NES Nintendo, Hollywood, and gender roles of the 70s/early-80s played a greater role in that “sweaty nerd boy” gamer stereotype than simply having to pick what shelf to sit on in the toy aisles. As far as the marketing to boys goes, SEGA, Atari, & NEC were trapped well before the hairstyles grew sky high and pastels & neon dominated fashion palettes. :smiley:

Even before the NES, consumers and non-gamers had the assumption that this guy here is what a gamer looked like.


I also wanted to point out that some of this is CLEARLY technology driven. Light gun tech was SO super simple and easy to implement even back then. It would then make sense that we’d get games that capitalized on that. Gaming would draw inspiration from Hollywood. Cowboy movies. Cops & robbers. Vigilantes. If games were all about action then early games would go out to take something from the most action filled movie sub-genres. The early light gun tech let them do that quite admirably.

Go one step further. Star Wars. That vector arcade game wasn’t just a stunner for the day. It was also a trend setter. Sci-fi became a focus of many of these early games. Apart from Ripley in “Alien” (1979), most women in pre-NES era sci-fi movies were still damsels in distress. Gender stereotyping was still plenty harsh on women back in those days.

If early gaming was going to target anybody, OF COURSE they were going to target boys. Seriously. The movie genres that they wanted to emulate already skewed male. The tech to make all of that action possible also pushed them to make more stereotypically male friendly games. Top that off with the aforementioned issues 70s/80s economics and Hollywood’s own crafting of the gamer stereotype.

Girls appreciate violent / action filled games too. No doubt about it. I’ve got a sister, a mother, and a niece that ALL dig that stuff. I’m just saying that, for those girls who WEREN’T into the violent action made so easy by early gaming, the 70s and 80s weren’t a great time. The tech wasn’t there to craft richer experiences that crossed gender borders. I’m not just talking about gameplay either. Sprites were so limited that creating a decent female protagonist wasn’t possible til at least 1986 (Metroid).

And do I REALLY have to mention how so many of the people handling the big money in the 70s and 80s were (probably) mostly guys? Not enough women in the boardrooms or signing the checks back in those days. I’m sure that there were plenty in the garage, but not enough with actual $$$ power. Sad, but true.

This video is way off base, imo.


TLDR; version…

  • Pre-NES games still focused on male gamers, protagonists, and stereotypically male skewing genres
  • Pre-NES games took cues from Hollywood.
  • Hollywood, pre-NES, had already crafted the gamer stereotype
  • Gender economics of the 70s/early-80s played a good part in deciding who these game were made for and marketed to.
  • The ones who dominated the highest positions of financial power and decision making were the guys
  • Gender roles of the day weren’t nearly as enlightened, even though feminism was already in full swing.
  • Early game tech made it easier to go for (often) male skewing raw violent action instead deeper gender neutral friendly gameplay
  • Visuals were bare bones. Making and animating a Mario was much easier and hardware friendly than, say, Pauline.
  • Were girls REALLY encouraged to make games back in the 70s/80s? Even those who did never had the benefit of today’s STEAM education. Gender roles were pretty strict back then.

Blaming post-crash Nintendo marketing is off base and overly simplified.


I guess everyone is an expert when it comes to this. :slight_smile:
I agree that certain genres still makes me feel like an outsider. I have never been as flamed as I was in the CS mod community (ended up going by a male alias to get things done.)


Sorry about that. :stuck_out_tongue: I go overboard when I’m passionate about at topic.


My answer was more of a cover my butt over what I was about to say. The gamergate flame burns strong within even this community, sadly. What matters to me is how it looks right now, and it is still a world filled with boys with big egos. There’s some few havens, I’ve worked at some truly awesome places. But online communities around modding can be vile.


Hi, I don’t think that video games are just for boys, But it’s true that teenage boys play more video games than teenage girls, but the gap between them may be smaller than you think. Actually, I am also an online gamer who played different types of online games. I also played some money-making games, Interested people can click for more info about the best online pokies games to win real money. Nowadays female is more likely to play video games than male players.