The Virtual Battle of the Sexes

Views: Date: Dec 23 2008 10:01:12
KeyWord: Virtual,Battle,of,,Sexes
Summary: Picture a typical player of a massively multiplayer game such as World of Warcraft and most people will imagine an overweight, solitary male.

The Virtual Battle of the Sexes

The website of BBC News has released a very insightful article about the virtual battle of the sexes.

Picture a typical player of a massively multiplayer game such as World of Warcraft and most people will imagine an overweight, solitary male.

But this stereotype has been challenged by a study investigating gender differences among gamers.

It found that the most hard-core players are female, that gamers are healthier than average, and that game playing is an increasingly social activity.

Despite gaming being seen as a male activity, female players now make up about 40% of the gaming population.

The study looked at gender differences in more than 2,400 gamers playing EverQuest II.

"What we think might be at play is that it's not that games are good for you, it's that TV is bad for you
Dmitri Williams

The participants, who were recruited directly out of the game, completed a web-based questionnaire about their gaming habits and lifestyles. They received an in-game item as a reward for taking part - a condition which has led to some questioning of the results.

In addition Sony Online Entertainment, Everquest's creator, gave the US researchers access to information about the players' in-game behaviours.

Gender bias

The results showed that, although more of the players were male, it was the female players who were the most dedicated players, spending more time each day playing the game than their male counterparts.

Lead researcher Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware said the result demonstrated how out-of-date stereotypes can be.

"In many cases, stereotypes reflect what I would call a 'cultural time lag'," he said.

"What we think about men and women and videogames may have been true 10 or 15 years ago, when there were mainly console video games or single-player games.

Nintendo games console, BBC
Attitudes to games may date from the early years of consoles, say researchers

"But what were seeing now is that games become social, and as these online games become communities then the attraction for that kind of behaviour might increase for women," said Prof Caplan.

"I think a lot of our stereotypes are based on the way computer games have been, rather than where they're going."

The pressure to conform to traditional gender roles might mean that some women are put off activities seen as "masculine", whereas women who reject traditional gender roles might be more likely to play MMOs such as EverQuest II.

Perhaps in support of this the survey revealed an unusually high level of bisexuality among the women who took part in the study - over five times higher than the general population.

"These are not people who are following strict gender stereotypes," said Prof Caplan.

"I think that the game itself is right now a very non-traditional activity for women, and so I think what you would find in this population are going to be people who are in other ways less traditional than the majority population."

Read full article: The Virtual Battle of the Sexes

News Original From: BBC News

send to friend print top

Player Comments

Nickname:
Comment: