Post-Fanfest Thoughts on Female EVE Players

Editor’s Note: We don’t tend to syndicate blogs here on CZ. While syndication is a great and totally valid way to get good writing to a wider audience, we strive towards high quality original content here. But this piece proved the exception that was needed to break the rule. I hung out with Lili at Fanfest and was directed to her blog where I stumbled upon this amazing piece. As a result of it, I’m delighted to announce that she has joined the Crossing Zebras staff and will be writing an in-depth follow-up to this piece in the coming days! -Xander While recovering from my Iceland trip (thank you VERY MUCH for a mean virus Iceland, really appreciated), there are some thoughts on my mind that I wanted to share about girls in EVE. I took part in the Ladies with Laz0rs roundtable and went there with my heart on my sleeve as I am terrified by modern internet feminists, Social Justice Warriors and all that Tumblr crap. Ladies (and gentlemen) in EVE surprised me once again. At the beginning I could hear some SJW-y voices from gals in the panel, but those were quickly dropped and really constructive discussion followed. What was the consensus? Glad you asked. Ladies in EVE do not want to be seen as women, but as gamers, pilots, genderless machines of mass destruction. And that is great – I agree with that point of view, but there is another side to this coin. While there are more women in the world than men, there are significantly less female players* in EVE Online than male. Gals are as little as 3.8% of all Eve subscriptions. And while we are a bunch of great individuals (aren’t we?), there is concern about getting more ladies to play the game. To get to the root of the problem, this will be a summary of my thoughts after the Ladies with Laz0rs panel and the part of CCP Quant‘s presentation that spoke about EVE player types. I won’t get into details (the whole presentation is available here) but this was the most interesting graph, showing how active people are in described areas, dividing them by type of play: segmentation_vars The first thought that came to my mind was “oh hey, I’m social, probably more girls are!” but this is utterly untrue! I asked CCP Quant for insight on that matter and got my response: caxyb8fvaaavgyb-large On first glance it may appear that “oh look, there ARE significantly more social type female players and there are significantly less female aggressors” but a more in-depth study of the totals reveals (and this graph is by me, sorry it’s not as pimped as CCP Quant’s ones): 2015-03-23-14_10_34-aaaaaaaaaa The trends for both genders are the same. We do not differ much in play type, so yeah, we are all genderless weapons of mass destruction. Two questions remain unanswered – why are there so few female EVE players and how do we get more of the titty carriers to play? What made me chuckle was the response of the community at the panel, when on one hand we don’t want to be seen as girls, but as pilots, and on the other hand we would like something girly in game. Something which would show us we’re special without damaging our reputation as badass space warriors. Something which would make more ladies try EVE and stay. Something that would cause the next This is EVE video to have 50% female voices, instead of one in the background. What that would be? I have no clue and neither has CCP. But we can think about it together. I’d like to open discussion on this topic. Thoughts? Leave me a comment down below or tweet me. *Yes, I am using binary genders. If you are SJW and want to argue on that – just don’t.
Tags: fanfest, gamergate, women, women of EVE

About the author

Lililiari Aaken

Pro ship spinner and Jita scammers’ troll, The New Eden Store fashion critic, all-around good girl. Vividly interested in phenomenons like the #boombitch effect. Founder of graph pr0n addicts support group. Gamer, nerd, wife. Occassional rebel.

  • Purity the Kitty

    I think we also need to realize that female gamers are still a minority, and that the nature of Eve does not fit the culture most women in the western world subscribe to. Entitlement does not get you very far here, whereas it is encouraged and even enforced outside of the game world for many women. Eve teaches self-reliance, and being a woman in North America flat out teaches the opposite.

    • I cannot speak for North America, because I have never been there, but here in Europe:
      1. yes, we are a minority, but not a minority we think we are. Once you start exploring and getting to know female gamers community, you learn that there are many of us.
      2. I think, to some point, EVE has a potential (some games do) of developing some traits in players. For example self-reliance.
      3. I seriously think that what you wrote in the end is some kind of mantra that we are used to repeat over and over again, but this is changing, and because we are so udes to saying this, we cannot see the change.

      • Diana Olympos

        “. I seriously think that what you wrote in the end is some kind of mantra that we are used to repeat over and over again, but this is changing, and because we are so used to saying this, we cannot see the change.”
        SO SO true.
        As a Player who bring several of his IRL female friend to Eve, I think EvE is pretty open to female player.
        Why don’t we get a lot of them? Many reasons, but what strike me the most is that MMO are Games with a good women representation compare to the rest of the gaming landscape.
        So what make EvE different? I think the NEED to be on comms and in corp play a big part in Eve problems. Lot of women raise the fact that they got problems in some group when they need to be on voice chat. (let’s be clear, not all corps are like that. In PFR we got a strong “Don’t be a dick” policy.
        Another food for tought is that Eve is marketed as a niche game. The thing is, niche game tend to evolve slowly than the general landscape, cause they need people to got a bit of vet in games. So if the general gaming landscape tend to a better 50/50 ration type, Eve will tend to that but with far more inertia. Just like High responsabilities position take more time to ghange to a 50/50 ratio : it’s a looong journey.
        (Man here)

      • Nami Kumamato

        Well for one I’m a female gamer from EU and I play EVE!
        Amazing I know…
        However I disagree with Lililiari – women don’t need a special wink from CCP so they can attract more in their game (women don’t need a special wink or nod from anyone for that matter).
        EVE is never been advertised as a male-heavy game and thee are no signs of it either. To say that we are badly represented ad that’s why there aren’t more of us is utterly shiet (as I said I DO play EVE).
        EVE doesn’t attract more females because EVE as a game attracts a different persona than the usual panda-infested theme-park.

        It all boils down to genes and character profiles as women generally invest more time in games that are appealing to traits that are generally associated with females (like nurturing, growing, aesthetics and all that jazz).
        Highly competitive and warfare-themed games don’t particularly attract females because they are highly competitive and warfare-themed.
        Somebody mentioned LoL – all girls I know that play LoL usually main Support as their in-game role. As most girls I know who play WoW main healers. See a pattern ?
        EVE doesn’t attract females because it’s not a particularly attractive game FOR females. It’s about blowing shit up, back-stabbing and general douche-baggery.
        I personally like EVE because I’m a mechanical design artist and I’m passionate about all things sci-fi, spaceships, hydraulics, etc etc but if I probably wouldn’t have played it if I wasn’t in this field.

        • I didn’t say we NEED a wink 🙂 I say we would not mind. I am pretty sure most of us wouldn’t. I may be wrong however. I am just a human.
          Not all areas of activity in EVE are #boombitch, “back-stabbing and general douche-baggery”. This is what is mostly shown, for example in This is EVE video. Women might not know that they can become a rockefeller not undocking once. There are so many opportunities.

          • Diana Olympos

            Just so nobody forget : This is EVE SHOW industry, hauling, etc. It’s just what strike our personnal imagination less, but it is there.

          • I said “mostly”, not “only”. Please, I am trying to be precise and I would expect the same in return. 🙂

          • Diana Olympos

            Yeah sorry for that, i wanted to answer to the previous post.
            And i don’t think that industry and things like that are what bring the more people into Eve.
            There are other great game for that around the internet.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Nice, I always wanted to see that particular graph.

    It is interesting to see that the distribution of male and female players in the different categories is very similar. That there are more male “Professionals” is easily explained. Most of the people in that category will be old players with lots of alts. Female online gaming is still a rather recent trend and has increased significantly only in the last 5-10 years. Considering that, their high proportional representation is quite impressive.

  • Vogon

    I loathe the term ‘Social justice warrior’, not because there aren’t people who fit the stereotypes, but because it is more commonly used as a way of dismissing valid concerns.

    Part of the issue with asking present female eve players how to make the game more attractive to women is the same as the problem with asking eve players generally how to make the game more attractive generally: you’re asking people who already tolerate the status quo.

    • If you feel I am dismissing valid issues, please let me know and I will look into that. And I call it SJW beacuse it’s the best name there is, and I am from Tumblr. 😉

      It is not an issue, it’s one way to start learning. The question is not “how to attract more female players”, but “what dragged you to EVE and what made you stay?”.

    • Angus Adalwin

      Your second point is very valid. I can’t remember the name for the idea, but here’s the textbook example of the problem:

  • 290x

    I am glad to see those graphs. As per CCP Rise’s NPE presentation, it’s important to verify your assumptions before making any changes to the game. “Social and relatable” have been the buzzwords for how to attract more female players to the game. Walking in stations, for example, was expected to increase the appeal of Eve among women. I am glad to see this debunked.

    Along those same lines, though new players in general are great for the health of the game, I have not been convinced that attracting more women specifically is a desirable thing. To be completely clear; I don’t think it’s a bad thing, either. I think that before we start advocating one way or the other, we need to have an objective and some evidence that our proposed solution will achieve that objective.

    • I think attracting more women to the game may be important for health of female community. Some girls feel uncomfortable in male dominated space, if you will. To attract more women we have to attract more women, if that makes sense. But I will always be against attracting girls just for the sake of showing numbers.

      • 290x

        How would you attract women to Eve?

        I would suggest doing it by just making the game better, but the female population within Eve has remained stagnant over the 5 years I’ve been here despite huge leaps forward in the gameplay. This suggests to me that any changes made with the purpose of attracting women would not align with the general goal of improving Eve, as none of that improving has attracted significantly more women thus far.

        Should we make changes to Eve that don’t improve the core experience?

        • What is the core experience for you? Remember that this is sandbox, what you see as core might not be as core for anyone else.

          • 290x

            To answer your questions:
            1) The core experience is spaceships.
            2) Hi-res textures make the spaceships look better.

            Years of changes made toward improving the core spaceship component of the game since the events of Incarna have not resulted in a dramatically larger female population suggesting to me that improving spacehip gameplay is not the route to increasing the female playerbase.

            So, should we make changes to Eve that do not focus on the core spaceship experience? If not, what changes would you make to attract women to Eve?

  • Anonymous

    Titty carriers. Must be a highslot module to replace triage.

  • Hasenfefer

    I have a hard time taking any woman seriously who tries to distance herself from feminism while claiming she doesn’t want to be treated like a woman in game but just another gamer. If you don’t want to be treated differently you should be embracing feminism.

    • Which wave of feminism Dear? And what does it mean “treated like a woman in game”?

      • Hasenfefer

        I don’t know, which wave are you opposed to exactly? Last time I checked feminism was simply a movement to establish equal political/economic/social rights for women.

        Your article said “Ladies in EVE do not want to be seen as women, but as gamers, pilots, genderless machines of mass destruction.” To me this reads as if you want to be treated equally to men in game. You don’t want people to look at your interest in the game differently, or make assumptions about you based purely on your gender…or am I misunderstanding your position here?

        • *sigh*

          Ok, 1st of all “modern internet feminist” is a whole term, I am not against all feminism or distancing myself from it. I do not want to be seen as the Sarkeesian type of “feminist”. That is all.
          And while feminism is a great idea, it lacks in execution, especially on the internet and in gaming. And this is, unfortunately, partially so called feminists’ fault. I never want to be seen as part of that movement.

          I am trying to show dualism of female nature, when on one hand we want to be treated as badass space killaz, on the other hand we would not mind a little wink towards the female community which would make the game more comfortable and fun for women, but would not damage the badass part.

          • Hasenfefer

            Is there really that much of a difference between a “modern internet feminist” and your regular old garden variety feminist?

            At the end of the day I don’t think you can say you want to be treated like a genderless machine of mass destruction and then say you want a special girly wink specifically aimed at your gender. I mean sure everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too but how realistic is that? The minute you get that wink from CCP is the minute you stop being genderless machines of mass destruction. You can’t have it both ways.

          • Yes, there is a difference. 🙂 While feminists fight the good fight, internet feminists blow the trumpet basing on unchecked “facts”, spreading misandry and such. Here’ have some examples. 🙂

          • Kamar Raimo

            If you do not know it, I recommend this video. This woman has very good points:

    • Tseehn

      You should have shot yourself in the foot when it was in your mouth.

      • Hasenfefer

        Snappy rebuttal.

    • Kamar Raimo

      Maybe it is just about general mutual respect regardless of background, race or gender. One does not have to be a feminist to think it it beneficial to not exclude 50% of humanity from whatever you are doing.

  • progodlegend

    I’m sure we all recently saw that graphic that was in r/gaming and also on r/eve that showed the male to female ratios of many popular games. Some had female majorities, some had 60-40 m/f ratios, WOW had like 70/30, etc. etc.

    (someone please find the picture and post it for me)

    Of course EVE was at the bottom, with a 96-4 ratio. But there was something I noticed about the other games at the bottom that was very interesting, and told me everything I needed to know about the problem. First off, the bottom rounded out with Lineage II having like a 90-10 ratio, and then surprisingly, DOTA 2 actually tied EVE, also having a 96-4 ratio.

    I was at first surprised that a game as popular as DOTA 2 was tied with EVE with it’s male to female ratio. Until I saw League of Legends. League of Legends had a much better ratio, something like 80-20 (maybe higher can’t remember). Now that’s not great, but considering that most games have more males than females, this isn’t that bad.

    But I thought to myself, DOTA 2 and League of Legends are pretty similar games, why the disparity? But then I quickly figured it out.

    There is a major similarity between DOTA 2 and EVE online, and to some extent Lineage 2 as well, and these are the 3 games at the bottom of the Male to female ratio statistics. Now I personally don’t know why females don’t play EVE, as I’m not one. But I find it difficult to ignore the statistics. I know what trait those 3 games share, all 3 of them occupy a niche in the gaming market as being the most harshest most ruthless competitive games on the market. I’ve always heard of Lineage 2 as a game for hardcore gamers. I’ve always heard of DOTA 2 as being more hardcore than League of Legends. And we are all obviously aware of EVE online’s hardcore reputation.

    Personally I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve always been a practical person that looks at data, and I’ve never heard any good argument for why female players don’t play EVE based off of anecdotes.

    • progodlegend

      So my theory is that EVE online is really fucking competitive, and for whatever reason that doesn’t appeal to females as much as other games do. I don’t know why, because I know some super fucking competitive females, but I just can’t look past the fact that those 3 games, DOTA 2, Lineage II, and EVE online, all have the worst male to female ratio in the industry.

      • Pepizaur
        • Kamar Raimo

          That goes very well with a survey quoted in a book by Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender

          In that study they gave students on a university science faculty math problems to solve. In one part of the survey they asked the students to fill in their gender, on the control group they didn’t.

          In the part where the women had to identify themselves as such they performed lower than the women in the control group. Of course that experiment was repeated several times with mixed populations.

          In many cases it appears that being made aware of their gender influences how women perform.

          Funny enough reverse results were shown in other competetive studies. In those men behaved far less competetive if they did not have to declare themselves as male.

          Bottom line: We often (subconsciously) act in ways that are expected of us once we are being pushed into our respective roles.

      • anti

        Mh, personally I find EVE not competitive at all, it basically supports a vast variety of play styles. I think it is kind of out of place in this graph.

        My theory is similar (except that eve is out of place): Games favored by females (e.g. Skyrim) give the player choices about the stress and action. You’re not forced to fight.

        Assassins Creed or Mass Effect are below 20% (even though I always thought they are enjoyable games for women (I totally like them))! But they DO have scenes where the player is forced into stress situation like annoying chases. I was biting my controller. I guess most women go like “argh, i dont need this, bye”.

        And then at the bottom there are pure action stress competition games like Dota 2… And Eve… except Eve is not stressful unless you seek action… *shrug*

        I just blame it on prejudices 😛

  • Max

    Nice article The null alliance that I am currently in, which is part of the hated cfc. Has quite a few female eve players. A couple of those are great Fc’s and part of the leadership. so I think it starts with the group you play with and finding that openness and acceptance from your fellow players. Eve is a sandbox game and I would say give the players the tools to find other players like themselves easier and it would slowly balance itself some. Sorry for the craptastic grammar. Hard for a monkey to type on a smartphone. o7

  • Angus Adalwin

    Great article, can’t wait to see the follow-up. I agree that EVE should try to get a more balanced player base. (Seriously? 96% male?) Unfortunately, I haven’t studied the topic enough to be able to suggest how we can go about doing that.

    I do think that at least part of the problem is an often-encountered problem with males on the internet – they either give women lots of special attention or, well, are the “tits or gtfo” type. In my experience, that seems to diminish based on familiarity As guys get used to the idea of a woman in corp/on comms, she becomes less of a novelty and just another player.

    • Kamar Raimo

      It’s a critical mass thing and it will pass. Women have broken into other male dominated domains and not all of them were so generally welcoming of their presence as the EVE community is for all it’s flaws.

  • Druik Arbosa

    The attitude of other players can be and is an issue at times for any new person looking to start playing the game, male, female, non-binary doesn’t matter who.

    I don’t know what keeps individual players staying, I do know what helps most players though, finding a crew you are comfortable with.

    Not easy if the content on comms is not to everyone’s taste.

    • Kamar Raimo

      The best thing you can do against that is to go look for a group that is not so toxic and contribute.

  • Erik Kalkoken

    Great article and interesting topic. Here is a recent graph on the gender gap in games including Eve. I especially find it interesting to compare the graph of Eve and WoW. This might be a stereotype, but I am guessing it has a lot to do with the fact that in Eve you don’t see a lot of people on screen, its all spaceships.

    • Thank you for sharing.

    • Kamar Raimo

      Great thanks.

    • anti

      Thx! WoW is very newb-friendly. My guess is they simply got lucky and many females (who maybe never played before) got “recruited” by husbands and friends. With help from already existing social groups it is also easier to get into the finer gameplay details.
      You’r probably right about the people, but environment is important too. Imagine your wife/sister looking at your screen during WoW vs EVE.
      EVE always looks the same -_- WoW? Jungle, Desert, Cities, Elven architecture, woooow!

  • anti

    Thanks for all the statistics! Veeeeery interesting! :]

    I played EVE for 5 years on-off and am female. However I am of the “explorer” gamer type and don’t care about social interaction. So from my point of view I don’t think a “rude” community really drives away females. Mainly because it usually also takes a while until a new player joins a Corp/Fleet/voice-chat.

    Actually I find it quite ironic: To me EVE isn’t competitive at all. In fact it’s one of the very few games you can play completely pacifistic. At least if you know your way around there is no need to stress out. Maybe that’s a way to attract females: show the relaxing aspects of EVE more.

    As an explorer I enjoy exploring all the game mechanics. Figuring out a perfect PI setup can be satisfying. However I miss actual exploration of stunning places, impressive architecture or just well designed objects. Sites just start to look alike quickly. Not sure if more versatile scenery could attract more (female) players…

    But in general better individualization can help. I don’t mean fitting 😉 but visible design options. Like *gasp* modular ships. Just the basic 3 modular parts from Star Trek Online made me feel a real connection with *my* own personal ship! I think ship skins is a step in this direction.

    I’m not sure if women are generally driven away by the learning curve, work and reading required by EVE. I mean The Sims can need a lot of complex micro-management, too O.o I guess it’s more the “I’m-lost-feeling” that can be demotivating. I guess seasoned hardcore gamers (that are mostly guys) are simply used to frustration in games, even motivated by it. Now for a female it may be an “easy way out” to think “I’m a girl, that game is not for me anyway”. Good thing the tutorial has already improved. mhhh maybe offering a quick tutorial video at the first game start can help, maybe with a real person/face to relate to.

    Now that I think about it, there are also no real “memorable” NPCs, with real character, even funny dialogue… I know, I know there *is* vast lore and backstory. However it barely appears ingame. I guess having a few lovable, original, individual NPCs could help to feel a connection, carry a few stories and provide motivation for newbs to know more about them (e.g. Elder Scrolls Online does this nicely).

    Weeeell that was just my opinion 🙂 You specifically asked for ideas 😉

  • Anonymous

    If Eve: Online wants to attract female gamers, it needs to look at what kinds of things girls like to play with and do. More customization, not just clothing options, but ships, furniture, accessories, and stations too, and very importantly they need to be in-depth and interactive with a lot of opportunities for unique designs. Stuff needs to be really modular, inside and out.

    Walking in stations with hangouts full of people is another. There needs to be ways of organizing communities in some fashion outside of corps – something like interest groups you can join and hang out with, but without impact on whether actual corps will take you on, and with more impact than the basic chatroom channels that presently exist.

    To bullet list it:
    – Walking in stations
    — Customizable (inside and out) and visit-able (!) player homes, stations, ships, estates, bars, etc.
    — Clothing, furniture, furnishing, accessory options.
    — Arcade minigames, cardgames

    – Hangouts and Groups
    — Better than just a chatroom, integrate into friendslists, allow privatized estates and properties for the group to hang out together in-avatar while excluding non-members

    – Puzzles, mystery games, exploration and storytelling!
    — More unique visuals, places to visit and explore outside your ship
    — Find relics, dock, explore, solve puzzles, enjoy the view; isk reward unnecessary. Doesn’t need to be complicated – think easter egg.
    — Stay away from repetitive designs, don’t try to personalize stories – this is an MMO, not a singleplayer game. Let mysteries STAY mysteries. Just make stuff really interesting to visit and explore. I can think of dozens of examples of just this sort of thing in second life. They don’t need to be important, they don’t need to generate isk. They just need to be really cool to visit and explore with other people.

    Do these things and I GUARANTEE you the game will attract more female players, and players in general. Eve has focused heavily on game mechanics, stats and analytics, but exceptionally little on story, discovery, customization, social status, and individual ownership. There’s no attachment to any places or factions. It’s extremely sterile and robotic.