I remember when I first heard about Ubisoft and their Frag Dolls venture, and thought it was a great way to promote women and gaming. Sure, they were all smoking hot girls but they also did something no other company promotes – showing girls as hardcore terrorist-shooting gamers. These were girls with a serious love – and serious skills – for first person shooters, long considered the cream of the crop when it comes to gaming sales. Need to think of a video game title off the top of your head? Chances are good that regardless of whether you are male or female, something like Barbie Horse Adventures won’t be the first title to roll of your tongue. Nope, something like Halo, Gears of War or Call of Duty will likely be the game you think of first.

But recently, there has been a push in the media to target female gamers in order to bump up their sales, because women account for 40% of the gaming market. But what kind of games are they peddling to us girls? Well, anything that has to do with fitness or weight loss, as well as anything that is somehow revolving around pets (Littlest Pet Shop, Petz), puzzles (Sudoku, Bejeweled, etc) or other girly pursuits (Cooking Mama, Princess-y games, pretty much any Imagine DS title).

But have you ever seen marketing of any game that would be classed as non-girl-centric actually targeting girl gamers, particularly girl gamers of the hardcore variety? I didn’t think so. Even while the Frag Dolls are all women and are arguably a good role model for other girl gamers to look up to, you know that they are also there to look good for the guys interested in buying those Ubisoft FPS titles the Frag Dolls play.

Looking at some of the recent gaming advertisements, I see plenty of eye-candy advertisements featuring women characters with their chests bursting out of barely-there leather (heck, who am I kidding, it is more likely latex!) outfits. Eye candy for girls? Not so much unless you think Marcus from GOW is swoon-worthy with all his gear on… okay, maybe some of you do, but that ad was definitely not created to make women think about how hot Marcus is, it was to make guys want to buy the game so they could be just as badass as Marcus while rocking the lancer.

Now 40% is a huge chunk of the gaming market that women now control, so companies are trying to tap into those gaming spending dollars. But they are making the mistake of excluding hardcore girl gamers in their marketing efforts. I know I spend way more than the average consumer on buying XBox games, as well as downloadable content (Hello COD XBox console with the 250GB HG). So why aren’t they targeting me, and my (eek!) probably 30+ video games I purchase a year? I have nary a Barbie Horse Adventures in sight, but instead its all Halo, Rainbow, COD, L4D, Fallout, Rock Band, Gears of War, etc. But instead they are targeting the women who might buy 2-3 games a year. Now, I am not a rocket scientist, but I have a feeling that gaming companies will make a heck of a lot more money off me than they would off of someone like my sister who buys a couple DS games a year. Yet, my sister is the exact market they are targeting.

Even when I attended PAX this year, the marketing was all to men, despite a ton of women attending. I got at least a dozen swag t-shirts for all kind of video games, such as Left 4 Dead, BRINK and Beatles Rock Band. But not a single one of those companies had girly shirts, because trust me, I asked them! I only came away with one single shirt that was actually made for women… and ironically it was an “I Play with Dolls” t-shirt the Frag Dolls were giving away to the winners of the Just Dance competitions. And if any of those companies had women’s shirts, I would have been proudly wearing them around PAX and given those companies even more free advertising, not to mention wearing them when I got back home.

So when will gaming companies stop assuming that females only want to play games that will either help us to lose weight or immerse us in a pink-themed pet world? Well, this hardcore girl gamer isn’t holding her breath that things will change anytime soon.bake