Gender differences play factor in video games

By Brittany Such
November 17, 2006

According to gender schema theory, children and adolescents use gender as an organizing theme to classify and understand their perceptions about the world. Gender schema is influenced by society’s beliefs about the traits of females and males, and influences processing of social information and self esteem.

Dr. Melissa Terlecki, assistant psychology professor, has been conducting a study regarding gender and spatial ability. Spatial functioning is a mental process, which is associated with the brain’s attempts to interpret certain types of incoming information. This information is anything visual such as pictures, maps or plans. Terlecki started a graduate school study on the aspects of spatial ability and became very fascinated with the idea and fact that men do better on tests with spatial ability than women do.

“The development of girls versus boys is very different, and I do notice how boys are more visually oriented,” Maureen Saunders, junior elementary education major, said.

Terlecki has been conducting a further study regarding the differences between males and females and video games, which have a high use of spatial functioning. Terlecki explained how men do better with spatial functioning than women is either something biological, experiential or evolutionary. Terlecki’s study is on the experiential focus of gender differences regarding video games, and spatial functioning.

“Boys get trucks and girls get dolls. Boys get to play a lot of sports with navigation and visualization. Boys event are allowed to roam farther from the house than girls are at a young age,” Terlecki said.

“Girls are drawn to be more emotion and are very receptive, while boys are drawn to more entertainment,” Saunders said.

Terlecki has already taken a survey with young boys and girls over the previous summer and has begun evaluating student surveys at Temple University this fall. There will be 600 completed surveys this fall, and 400 student surveys this spring. The students are required to complete the surveys as a part of their introduction to psychology course. Terlecki is planning on using the results to present to the video game market, in order to help the market improve their female audience and help manipulate and boost spatial abilities within women.

“Girls do not find video games as interesting and puzzle games are more attractive to girls, and boys don’t get the excitement in it. Girls are also more attracted to cute pictures and pretty colors,” Anh Diep, freshmen biology pre-med major, said.

So far there as been huge differences in competition, aggression, and violence, which has been male oriented, and females have been found as less interested in video gaming compared to males. The practices and preferences are being examined more thoroughly to see just how the interests and needs are spatially different between each male and female gamer. “Boys are more competitive and aggressive and girls need more kindness and compassion within their video games,” Michael Mani, senior liberal art and philosophy major, said.

Brittany Such

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