Building Confidence Through Connection

How intersectionality impacts female mobile gamers in the United States.
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With 47% of mobile players in the United States being female, the industry has a responsibility to understand the diversity of this player base if we truly want to make gaming more inclusive. To understand how intersectionality impacts female mobile game players, Change The Game took a deep-dive into the lives of teens and women 13 - 35 years old.

These were players that played several hours of gaming daily... and weekly, playing mostly mobile games across different titles and genres. Additionally, with intersectional women in the United States spending four more dollars per month on mobile gaming that non-intersectional women, this group of women deserve to be heard and understood by the industry. Not only for the monetary gain that comes with catering to this segment of gamer, but also the altrusitc value of truly making gaming for all.

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Intersectional women are women with identities consisting of a range of protected characteristics, women in the LGBTQAI+ community, women living with disabilities, and women of color. Women without any of these additional protected characteristics are referred to as ‘non-intersectional’ women.

Setting the scene

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Desk-based cultural context analysis and trend identification within the gaming category.

Interviews with four experts to give insights to the category and priorities.

Amira Virgil
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Mobile ethnography: 25 participants over 5 days

3 2-hour player groups

10 x 90 minute player 1 on 1’s

Recruitment of women players with a mix of Black women, LGBTQ+ women, and women with living disabilities.

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15 min online survey speaking to 2,451 participants aged 13-65

Recruited women with intersectional identities for varying viewpoints:

590 Women living with disabilities

476 LGBTQAI+ women

323 Black women

Amira Virgil
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After synthesizing our findings, we were presented with a wealth of insights pertaining to what intersectional women players value, where they feel the industry needs improvement, and actionable opportunities on how the industry can serve these players. Overall, our findings can be categorized into two topics:

Building Confidence & The Power of Community

Key Learnings



Mobile gaming builds fundamental confidence for women players. 69% feel more confident as a person or in their abilities as a result of playing mobile games.


Women players receive real-world benefits from the games they play (e.g. improved problem solving skills and creativity).

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43% of intersectional women agree that they feel more accepted for who they are when playing mobile games than they do in everyday life.

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Communities are key to building confidence, with those who engage in communities being 77% more likely to feel more confident from playing mobile games.



Community and connection is especially important for intersectional women - 42% of whom say they don’t have friends in their everyday life to talk to about mobile games

Building Confidence

Building Confidence

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7 in 10 Women agree playing mobile games helps them feel more confident as a person in their skills and abilities.1

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Download the Building Confidence Through Connection Report to learn more.


“I decided to play Candy Crush today because I had a really long day at school. It was just really hard for me today. I genuinely struggled with all my assignments and all my classes. I wasn't feeling very confident. This game, however, works my mind and if I can pass this level it will allow me to gain some confidence back.”

Mia, 16, Latinx

Top 3 games: Candy Crush, Call Of Duty: Mobile, Block Puzzle

Mobile gaming is a platform that helps women players build fundamental confidence in themselves and empowers them to feel like they can be their true selves. 43% of intersectional women say they feel more accepted for who they are when playing mobile games that they do in their everyday lives, compared to 35% of Women with no additional protected characteristics.




Black Women2


Women living with disabilities2


Feel mobile gaming improves their problem-solving skills.3


Feel mobile gaming helps them be more creative.3


Feel that playing mobile games enables them to try something new, even if they might fail.3

For intersectional women, mobile games can also foster a more welcoming and accepting environment than what they experience in real life. Having a space where they are able to express themselves and connect with players who are like them creates a feeling of safety and acceptance, which they often struggle to find in their everyday life.

Additionally, this welcoming environment assists women in receiving ... tangible real-world benefits from playing mobile games. The games they play enable them to develop, enhance, and showcase a range of skills that they can be proud of, without the fear of public failure.

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An Expert POV

“I love that video games create a nice and safe space for girls to fail. In life it is really hard to fail publicly. Failing, making mistakes or dying is part of the game and really important to learn at a young age".

Among intersectional women who play each genre:

And among intersectional women, there are a few genres that provide the biggest confidence boost.


Feel more confident in their skills and abilities when playing battle royale games.


Agree sandbox games help them be more creative.


Agree playing Role-playing games makes them feel more comfortable in expressing themselves.


Agree playing action games makes them feel comfortable expressing themselves.

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However, similar to their experiences on other platforms, women still experience forms of negativity or abuse when playing mobile games, and these experiences can neutralize the confidence that mobile gaming instills.

While Battle Royale, Sandbox and Action games can provide the biggest confidence boosts, those who play these games are among the most likely to say they have experienced abuse or negativity when playing. These games are more open and social, meaning women are more easily exposed to negativity from other players.

"People have trolled me because I’m a girl. They’ll say I can’t play right because I’m a girl or ‘You can’t do this because you’re a girl’...

...gender doesn’t matter. If we can play, we can plan. No one wants negativity, that’s why we play - to get away from the negativity."

Fear of discrimination or harrassment is a more significant barrier for intersectional women, while a lack of confidence and being generally unsure of the benefits of connecting can also limit them.

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1 in 2 Intersectional women players have experience some form of harassment or negativity from other players.

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1 in 3 Intersectional women players have felt discriminated against when playing mobile games.

The power of community

The industry and developers can take steps to establish a level playing field for all players, empowering women players to feel comfortable and safe. Increasing the levels of customization are important, but this only scratches the surface of what needs to change. Stronger roles and storylines for female characters, increased accessibility features, and stricter enforcement and rules for harassment are key to improving the playing experience for women players.

Outside of changes to the in-game experience, we found a key factor to creating this change involves supportive and welcoming gaming communities.


Women who participate in gaming communities are 77% more likely to agree that playing mobile games makes them feel more confident as a person, compared to everyday life.

While women join gaming communities that are associated with the titles or genres they are interested in, women also look to online communities built around other personal identifiers.

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1 in 2 women players like to connect with other mobile players who are like them.


“The biggest need is connection and community - as a Woman and a disabled Woman, I definitely have found myself searching to connect with other people, with the same type of injury, or similar issues, we can connect over this shared experience.”

Jessica, 35, Asian/Pacific Islander, Living With a Disability

Top 3 games: Redecor, Plants vs Zombies, Blackout Bingo

And while connections mainly form within games, external communities and social media are the best way to enable out-of-game interactions. However, even though these interactions are external, they often revolve heavily around in-game interactions such as sharing resources, sending invites, or developing a team to participate with.

NET: Player interaction
NET: Player interaction
Both in and out of game
Only in game
Only outside of the game
Never interacted

“Social media really helps with the connection between gamers. Personally I’m part of different gaming groups & communities online. Some are only women, some are women and men. I like to have a mixture to see a range of opinions & perspectives.”

Nadera, 20, African-American, Bisexual

Top 3 games: Call of Duty: Mobile, Animal Crossing, Ultimate Tennis

Top 5 games for within-game interaction4




Among Us!




Words with Friends


Call of Duty: Mobile

Top 5 games for out-of-game interaction4


Genshin Impact


Call of Duty: Mobile






Clash Royale

When women find the right community, they experience a huge boost to their everyday confidence. They who feel they belong, can authentically express themselves, feel valued, and feel supported, making them:

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53% more likely to feel more confident in their everyday life as a result of connecting with other mobile game players.


“The big thing is the support. I go through periods of frustration and feel left out or alone.
So connecting with people that are going through similar issues is really special for me. It’s nice to connect with people who understand where I’m coming from.”

Maddi, 26, Asian, Living With a Disability

Top 3 games: Chess, Angry Birds, Elevate

But the existence of a community alone is not enough. Within the communities, women need to feel valued, supported, and well-represented to experience these benefits. Being part of a community that is especially nurturing and supportive of its players provides the biggest boost to women’s confidence in everyday life.

Additionally, intersectional women are active players in these communities, being more likely to interact with others, learn about other games, and create related content.

However, intersectional women are more likely to lack people in their everyday lives who they can share their passion for gaming with. Therefore they routinely look to platforms that are game-specific or community-oriented to find like-minded players.


of intersectional women say they don’t have friends in their everyday life who they can talk to about mobile games. (vs 32% of Non-Intersectional Women)

Create Create


Of intersectional Women created their own game-related content (e.g wrote a review, streamed) 5

(vs 31% Non-intersectional Women)

Interact Interact


Of intersectional Women interacted with others (e.g. traded resources, teamed up)5

(vs 58% Non-intersectional Women)

Learn Learn


Of intersectional Women learnt about games (e.g. watching videos, reading forums) 5

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Indicates greater than average


“I definitely have a virtual community who gets it - but in-person, real life friends are limited. So when it was safe to do meet ups with other Pokémon GO players, I would do that.”

Erin, 32, Living With a Disability

Top 3 games: Candy Crush, Scrabble, Animal Crossing

What does the ideal community look like?


Supportive & inclusive

Women players prefer a more open and supportive environment in which they can connect with a diverse representation of players.

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Based around identity & interests

Women want to find players who are like them, who share aspects of their identity and interests. These types of communities can feel like safer spaces for them to be themselves, without fear of negativity.

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Beyond gaming

Women - and intersectional women especially - seek spaces in which they can form deeper connections with other players. A community needs to be a place where they can share experiences and stories that go beyond just the games they play.

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A safe space

Crucially, communities need to feel safe and welcoming, particularly for those who have previous experience or concerns around abuse or discrimination.

“I’d enjoy an African American girls gamer community where we could talk about games, but also talk about the struggles of finding ways to manage African American hair and stuff.”

Reagan, 14, African American
Top 3 games: Minecraft, Roblox, Ape Legends

“My friend invited me to a LGBTQ gaming community. It was a completely different experience. You can be real. You can feel more comfortable to share and be myself without me worrying about the reaction.”

Alex, 27, Multi-racial, Bi-sexual
Candy Crush, Call of Duty, Minecraft


Intersectional Women are 41% more likely to interact with other players about more than just the game. ( 17% of Non-Intersectional women want to chat with others about more than just the game).

But it’s important to understand that fear of abuse, discrimination, or harrassment are significant batters for intersectional women. While a lack of confidence and being uncertain of the benefits of a community can hold them back.

Compared to Non-intersectional Women, Intersectional Women Players are:


More likely to be nervous of negativity/ discrimination/ abuse directed towards them 7

(22% intersectional vs 13% non-intersectional)


More likely to be put off due to previous negative experiences with other players 7

(16% intersectional vs 9% non-intersectional)


More likely to not feel confident enough to interact with other players 7

(22% intersectional vs 14% non-intersectional)


More likely to be unsure of the benefits to interacting with other players7

(18% intersectional vs 12% non-intersectional)

Finding the ideal community for women players is easier said than done. Many players are less aware of these communities, and do not know how to find them and safely engage.

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1 in 5 women either struggle to find other players or don’t know where to connect with them. This is especially true for Intersectional Women - a quarter of whom struggle to find other players to connect with (vs 15% Non-Intersectional Women).

Developer Opportunities

Let’s commit to changing the game for all women players by capitalizing on these three opportunities.


Refine the in-game experience

Go beyond default customization options to give women more choice. Offer hair options that represent different cultures, hair textures, and ethnicities. Additional body types, gender-fluid clothing options, or ways to glam up their crutches or wheelchairs.

Avoid tokenistic representation and move away from hyper-sexualized clothing and customization features.

Develop storylines that reflect the challenges and variety in Women’s lives, with characters that grow and evolve with them as their play advances.

developer opportunity 2

Foster safe spaces

Create forums, chat rooms and discussion spaces on subjects broader than game tactics or reviews. Enable women to speak about their experience and receive emotional support from other women.

Create and invest in improved moderation strategies and tools that minimize harassment

Clearly present and enforce a strict code of conduct which demonstrates the community values

developer opportunity 3

Bring players together

Amplify groups, pages and forums on platforms where intersectional players and content creators can express themselves more freely and connect with others in a more playful environment.

Consider how community ambassadors who defy gender-norms can inspire women communities to engage in the conversation, stream and create their own content.

Establish partnerships with causes that amplify how communities virtual or in-person, could help women connect for the benefit of themselves and the community.

developer opportunity 4

Provide customization features and tools

that deliver a thoughtful and considered experience for those who feel the most underrepresented in mobile games.
Go beyond default customization options to give women more choice. For example, consider offering different braid options for Black Women, additional body types, gender-fluid clothing options, or ways for players that identify as disabled to glam up their crutches or wheelchairs.

Avoid tokenistic representation and move away from hyper-sexualized clothing and customization features.

developer opportunity 5

Create stronger, more diverse and authentic roles

and storylines for women characters in games that celebrate and empower women.
Create storylines that reflect the challenges and variety in women’s lives, with characters that grow and evolve with them as their play advances.

developer opportunity 6

Stricter enforcement to stamp out...

harassment, negativity, and discrimination when playing games. Make it easier to report negative behavior and ensure meaningful consequences. Develop and enforce strict codes of conduct tha prohibit harassment or discriminatory behaviors. Build in self regulatory measures to recognize inappropriate behavior and take responsibility for policing away from the players

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Download the Building Confidence Through Connection Report to learn more.



Source: Google Surveys: For each set of statements below, please tell us which best reflects how you feel when playing mobile games. Base: Women players (2132)


Source: Google Surveys, For each set of statements below, please tell us which best reflects how you feel when playing mobile games. (accepted for who I am). Base: Intersectional women players (1267), LGBTQIA+ Women (476), Black Women (323), Disabled Women (590)


Source: Google Surveys. Thinking about the impact playing games has on your life overall, how strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?


Source: C4. Thinking about the games you currently play, which of the following have you done in the last 6 months specifically in relation to these games? Base: Woman who connect wiht other and play Roblox (252), Amongo Us (308), PUBG (101), Words wiht Friends (386), Call of Duty (257), Geshin Impact (60), Minecraft (156), Clah Royale (124)


Source: C1. Which of the following have you done in the past 6 months in relation to mobile gaming/C3. Which, if any, of the following have you done in the last 6 months in relation to mobile gaming. Source: Intersectional Women Player (1267), Non-Intersectional Women Players (865)


Source: C2 Which, if any of these platforms do you use to learn and talk to other people about mobile games? Base: Intersectional Women Players /1267). Non-intersectional Woman Players (865)


Source: C9. Which, if any, of the following has discouraged you from connecting with other mobile players? Base: Intersectional Women Players (1267), Non-Intersectional Women Players (865)

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