Games for girls - really different from men?
Opinion: Game developers could be trying to fill a niche that isn't there, reckons Emma Boyes...
European PlayStation boss Jim Ryan thinks that girls are the "the untapped holy grail" of games and he's revealed that Sony wants to appeal to more women with its new handheld, the Vita.
But will women even want to play the Vita? Various companies over the years have tried to muscle into the lucrative 'girl gamers' market, but do girls really play different games to blokes? Or are they trying to fill a niche where there isn't one and, in fact, women are just as happy to play Gears of War or Call of Duty as their male counterparts?
Scientific research on the subject is a little thin on the ground. An interesting study by Stanford University found that the part of the brain that generates rewarding feelings appeared to be activated more in men than in women while they played video games. It seemed to show that women just don't get the same enjoyment out of conquering territory as men, perhaps explaining different tastes in play. That esteemed scientific establishment, Doritos, found in a survey in July that women were more likely to enjoy games with social elements, like Facebook games, or ones that test their brain power, like Doctor Kawashima's Brain Training. Men were more likely to kick back and relax by blasting the hell out of each other in online war games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or indulge in online gambling games. Other more reliable opinion polls, including one from Nielsen had previously found much the same thing.
Trade show manager and casual gamer Stacy Sterling thinks that there definitely are gender lines in games. She says, "Men and women do seem to gravitate toward different games. Based on me being a casual observer, first-person shooter type games definitely seem to be more popular among males, puzzle games seem to be attractive to females, however RPGs seem to have an attraction to both sexes." It may be politically incorrect to say it, but there's no doubt she's right. If you walk into a LAN event, it's a sausage party, and if you look at the stats for online games, women are actually playing them more than men.
It's absolutely true that some women DO prefer Facebook and casual games to first-person shooters, just as there are probably men who secretly do, too. Likewise I know plenty of women who find those kinds of games boring and prefer the adrenalin rush of a good shooter instead. Everyone has their own personal preferences, but it doesn't mean that ALL women have zero interest in competitive games.
Maria Douglas, a pro gamer with the UK arm of all female clan PMS, thinks that it's rubbish that men and women are somehow genetically predisposed to like certain games, and thinks that it's got more to do with people behaving in a way that is considered socially acceptable. She explains, "I compete in FPS games, Counter-Strike: Source to be precise - widely considered to be a quality game. "There are VERY few women play this game, and that has nothing much to do with the quality of it. There is a culture, a consensus that women who play more 'hardcore' games are weird, particularly at the level I play at." So, similar to how it's unlikely that girls and boys are born instinctively preferring powder pink or navy blue, it's probable that society 'pushes' them to an acceptable choice of gaming. Nice girls aren't aggressive or competitive, and to properly enjoy war games you really need to be both.
I think there are myriad reasons why many women prefer games like FarmVille to Battlefield. Not being able to play as a female character, having to put up with sexist comments playing online, sexist treatment of women in the games (or a complete absence of women in the games) and the catch-22 of a lack of other women playing are probably all reasons why women are turned off.
Teacher Dionne Winch explains why she dislikes titles like Call of Duty: "I can't stand the tense music and the sound of gunfire. When my husband plays them I have to leave the room as it stresses me out. I play games to relax and take my mind off things. Also, at school I teach many boys who want to join the army as a result of the war games they have played but have no REAL idea of what it involves."
One of the things about women who game is that they often don't think of themselves as gamers. I remember talking to one of my older friends as she obsessively played Snake on her mobile about video games, and she told me, absolutely without irony, that she'd never played a video game.
Dionne plays games for several hours every week, both on her iPhone and Wii, but says she doesn't consider herself to be a 'gamer'. She says, "In my view, real gamers are the type of people who are happy to lose a day to gaming or stay up all night as they are not in a position to stop game play. The quick five minute game that I play here and there on my phone and can put down at any time is different." One of the reasons that the Wii was so popular with women was that it was easy to pick up and play and didn't feel like a standard console, in the same way as, say, the PlayStation 3 does. The DS was a hit with women for the same reason - it felt like having a portable puzzle library in your bag, not a gaming device. The Vita, however, definitely looks like a mini games console.
Women and other people who don't identify themselves as gamers don't buy stuff that looks like it is for gamers. Besides, when there's so much fun to be had on Facebook, iPhones, iPads and PCs, why would they buy another device? No matter how pretty and easy to use its interface is going to be for our poor simple female brains, I doubt Ryan is going to be finding that Holy Grail any time soon.
If my sister gets her own System for playing, I'd be obliged then again, am not ok with her using my system cause she has no damn idea what she is doing.
lol i have a female cousin who plays ipod games all the time plus it doesnt mean that she's all that young. she's in 4th year at barisal medical college.
when i was little i remember playing a lot of arcade action game with my cousin on SEGA megadrive and she used to liked them.
but some how after some time she lost interest in gaming.but still now she admires games but doesn't like to play them.
Amar class 5 e pora younger sis o prochur game khele. Study teo onek valo. She usually plays those which require some brain work, like Trine. O to Battlefield dekhtei parena, BFBC2 dekhle naki or matha ghure. Black Ops baade baki COD o temon akta like korena. RPG er birat fan o, New Vegas o akai shesh korse. Skyrim koto tuko khelse janina. Osthir game gular moddhe Assassins Creed, POP 2008, Dead Space, DMC ar Shank oi khub like kore.
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