So much so that I carefully researched and wrote a piece about female gamers for my upcoming book Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning that specifically addresses that issue. Here is an excerpt:
Unfortunately, female involvement in video games tends to go unnoticed—even among themselves. As Kirsten Kearney, a video game industry journalist puts it, “I started off playing Pong 25 years ago, then I had a GameBoy and played SuperMario. There are plenty of girls who did this but when you ask if they are gamers they say no," Nikki Douglas, founder of www.grrlgamer.com, a site dedicated to girl gamers adds, “We know that women do play games…we have played hundreds upon hundreds of [video] games.”So, we as designers of educational or training games for learning need to remember that females like video games as much as males, they just tend to like different game play and different content. When designing instructional games, we need to keep this in mind and overcome the large mis-perception about females and video games.__
While not being as visible as their male counterparts, females are no strangers to the video game world. Seventy percent of the players of the social interaction game, The Sims, are women under 25. The computer game that held the number one position in the Children’s PC chart from May 2004 until July 2006 was designed specifically for girls age six to eleven. In that popular game, Princess Fashion Boutique, a player chooses her favorite fairytale princess and dresses the princess in a variety of outfits mixing and matching colors and textures until everything is just right.
A game that has been a hit with older females is Nintendo’s Nintendogs. This game allows players to “pick out a puppy, name it and then watch it interact with other dogs." Forty-two percent of Nintendogs purchasers are women, with over 700,000 copies of the game sold over the first two months in Japan. When the game hit the United States, it sold 250,000 copies the first week and sold out of two major computer game store chains within a month.
Increasingly, females are playing first person shooter games as well. In fact, there are several female-only game tournaments started by women for women. Web sites such as www.womengamers.com, www.ladygamers.com,and www.grrlgamer.com have sprung up to eliminate the stereotype of girls not playing video games.
Females are active participants in video games; they are learning the same traits, concepts and behaviors as their male counterparts when it comes to the influence of video games. While females tend to gravitate toward different types of games, the lessons learned; problem-solving, the benefits of exploration, the advantages of multiple attempts are all the same. When discussing the traits of gamers, the traits cut across genders because young girls play video games and are growing up in a culture influenced by those games.
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