Of all the woman I know, one played some stupid game called farmville or something, where every guy I know plays video games, so, let's be honest, who's the target audience of a company that want's to be successful?
If some woman wants to start a game company to make a product that I would think wouldn't have a hope in hell of competing with one designed for men as the target audience, all the power to her. I would wonder how many men were on that payroll though. But, if I was designing a game, I would have a direction in place and hire to fill the rolls of the work needing to get that goal accomplished. The last thing I would want on my team is someone trying to inject their ideology and then play the victim when I toss them out on their ass. I don't care if it is religion, gender ideology's, or whatever else is supposedly 'politically incorrect'.
To many times I have seen uproars on the webs about people changing the general direction a game has had for a long time and build up many followers.
1. Farmville isn't a game I would like but it has been massively inarguably successful. It is declining in membership now but still being updated from what I have read. Your friend may be playing Farmville 2 these days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmville_2 At its peak Farmville had more players than WoW and they were making a fortune on in game purchases. The thing was such a big deal that when Steve Jobs was still alive and demoing stuff he demoed Farmville, in case people might worry they wouldn't be able to play it on Apple gear. http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/05/even-with-half-the-users-zyngas-farmville-made-more-money-than-ever-before-in-q1/
2. What you are saying about women in games is really different from the experiences I have had, but I believe you that you only know one woman who plays video games. I know a lot of them, but that doesn't mean you do. I am guessing you aren't much of an MMO player if you have only known one woman who plays computer and video games in general. There are several MMOs which have in the past been reported to have over 50% female players. UO was reported to have about 51% at the peak of that game. It wouldn't surprise me if LotRO is majority female these days but here is what data I can give you at the moment about computer and videogame demographics in the last 5 years. This is from 2009: http://blog.rjmetrics.com/2009/06/24/who-plays-mmos-an-analysis-of-mmorpg-player-demographics-and-mmorpg-player-stereotypes/
Fantastic and more recent data here, but warning, slow-loading pdf file: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2013.pdf
And a non-pdf summary also from esa that loads a lot faster but leaves a lot out:
Announcements from Microsoft and Nintendo here:
There's some argument about precise figures as to the percent of gamers that are female, but the general agreement that it is somewhere in the 40-50% range sounds about right to me on the games I play most. Right now that would be a terraformer MMO, an MMORPG, and an MMORTS for the online ones.
3. A woman starting a game company might not necessarily aim a game at women. I wouldn't. Not because it's impossible to succeed. It's not, as the Farmville example demonstrates. I just don't happen to believe that men and women have entirely different interests. There are plenty of games which appeal to both. I also feel men are perfectly capable of making games that appeal to girls. In fact, they already do. We will have to agree to disagree on this point. That's my opinion, and it's different from yours. We're both entitled to them. Why do you think a woman wouldn't hire men, or am I not understanding your payroll remark? Were you saying that, or are you saying she would have to hire mostly or all men, or neither of those things?
4. I do agree with you that changing the direction of a game or game series does often upset players. A game I really loved once did that, and 90% of the players quit within 1 month. It took them a long time to get players back, and if you went on an MMORPG today and announced in chat that you were a player there when that happened, you would get immediate pms from people who are *still* angry about it. I might be one of them.
If you ever want to see an online game where women are common, try a terraformer or an MMORTS right now. Pretty much any game with sandbox tendencies would work too.
note: edited to correct two typos