Women gamers are beginning to outnumber their male counterparts

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More women than men now play video games in the UK, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), a trade association. Some 52% of the 33.5 million Britons who have played a video game in the past six months were women.

And Britain is no outlier. Statistics compiled (pdf) earlier this year by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), an American industry body, show that the gap between male gamers and female gamers in the United States is also narrow—and the balance could soon switch. More women are playing games than ever before.

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The popularity of gaming among women is driven in large part by smartphones. They are the favored platform of more UK gamers (54%) than computers (51%), consoles (45%) and tablets (44%).

And the sorts of games that are popular reflect the devices on which they are played. A third of all respondents in IAB’s survey said they prefer trivia and puzzle games (like Candy Crush Saga), to action games and first-person shooters (FPSs), which are favored by fewer than 20% of gamers.

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Split that by gender, and the difference is more stark. The single most popular genre among young women is puzzle games, and the most popular genre among young men is shooters.

Gamers are skewing older, too: IAB’s study finds that while a smaller percentage of Britons aged 45 or older have played a game in the past six months, in total they account for a larger share of gamers than any other cohort.

The ESA’s study of gamers in the US also offered a challenge to the idea of teenage boys dominating gaming. The number of women gamers over 50 increased by a third from 2012 to 2013. And twice as many adult American women play games as boys aged 18 or younger.

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