Girl video gamers should be seen as equals

By Dr. Melissa Terlecki
March 15, 2007

I would like to comment in response to your “Girls play games too, video games that is” by Ashley Randazzo.

I have been studying girls and videogaming for nearly a decade now, and agree that times are changing with increasing numbers of girls and women getting involved in videogaming. What research shows is that women are more likely to be “casual” gamers; playing online rather than buying consoles and hardware/games. Numbers of women gamers are skewed by this.

Second, “pink” versions of consoles may look like a good idea to attract females on the surface, but if you talk to women in the videogame industry, as I have, they will tell you they don’t want pink videogames. They want to be viewed and treated just like everybody else. They want to play games like men, but not be viewed as something special, or different from men who play videogames.

Younger female audiences may be attracted by this (something “pink”), but industry creators shouldn’t be focused on the package – they should be focused on the content. It’s the games themselves that are important to women; those that have some social content sell best among women (i.e., Sims). The problem is that videogames in general tend to have little of what women like (they contain fewer female heroines, etc.). This is what I do my research on; women’s videogame preferences. My results, from over 1,000 research subjects (college students), should be out sometime near the end of the year.

Also, please keep in mind that many theories try to place “hardwired” causes in line for the gender difference in videogaming.

What is more likely the cause, and what my research shows, is that experience probably plays a bigger role. The way girls and boys are socialized, the types of toys they play with and the types of activities that they get involved with, all reinforce the differential between males and females in spatial ability and activity (including videogaming).

We need to first begin by understanding the “whys” and “hows” by looking at male and female activities and preferences in relation to videogaming order to start leveling the playing field.

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Dr. Melissa Terlecki

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