Are girls game? is an article written by Leslie Farmer which offers an analysis of the role played by school libraries in providing gender equity when it comes to e-gaming (electronic gaming). The article mentions that teenage girls tend to avoid e-gaming due to the violent and mechanical nature associated with some of these games. It also suggests that girls have a higher likelihood of giving up on complicated games when compared to boys. Whats more, females who avoid technology due to e-gaming failure may limit professional options given that 85% of all employment opportunities involve technology. Another article related to this is Getting (More) Girls into (More) Games by Sara M. Grimes. This essay addresses the issues raised by the two writers as well as an analysis of the solutions they propose.
There was a time when the notion of games for learning was still new. However, a small but crucial movement emerged that was spurred by the problem of gender in gaming. This movement was led by game designers, members of the gaming community, and scholars; with its primary objective being addressing a gaming gender gap that had formed in the 1980s and early 1990s. Just like now, gaming during that time was more of a boys affair; with male characters appearing far more often in games that female characters. Also, the gaming industry had fewer females than males. This movement highlighted a growing concern about the subtle way in which girls were deterred from getting into technology design together with other engineering and Information Technology professions.
The movement had shortlisted two main objectives by the mid-90s: an emphasis on attracting more women into the gaming industry, and a push for the formation of female friendly games. Both objectives significantly fell short of expectations, although there were some crucial but important exceptions. Indistinct and often highly conceited ideas on what constitutes a female-friendly game led to a new genre of video games. Referred to as pink games, these were games that relied on stereotypes about the likes and play preferences of girls. Meanwhile, the gaming industry still remained heavily male dominated.
The issue of female gaming has re-emerged a number of times over the years. A noticeable difference is that there has been a shift in approach. In the 2000s, more and more girls and women continued to play digital video games. They have done so in a number of ways ranging from embracing mainstream games, to taking part in huge success of gender-inclusive games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Mario Kart, to upholding small but enduring market for pink games. Nowadays, most of the discussion has shifted to the importance of paying more attention to the games played by girls, and finding out more on how and why they are played. In addition, the discussion has extended to including boys and men via considering more inclusively the issues facing all players when it comes to games and gender.
All in all, the gaming gender gap initially observed in the 90s is still as wide as ever. Females are more likely to play online, casual and free games rather than computer, subscription or console games that are perceived as core within gaming culture. Girls and women are less likely to choose, own or buy their own gaming technologies. Also, there is still a shortage of women working as programmers and designers. This is a disparity observed across the IT industries, where women participation has actually reduced since the 1980s.
There was a summit held in the summer of 2010 at Chicagos Columbia College known as the 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Games and Gender. The event was graced by five leading female scholars and game designers as well as dozens of school girls from local schools. The summit lasted for four days and included dialogue, gaming and design workshops. According to Sara Grimes, a major theme of the event involved doing away with the barriers that lock out women from game design, thus upsetting the cycle of self-incriminating status quo that is observed in the mainstream gaming culture.
Participants in the event raised some great ideas on how to go about this. They encouraged both boys and girls to carve their own niche, highlighting the huge flexibility of the expanding independent games market. Grimes is of the opinion that gamers should not be afraid of realizing and re-defining their own visions of what video games can be. She feels that this time, the wakeup call has come at an ideal opportune time. She went on to cite examples of entire schools that have been built around game design, as well as the fact that entry into game design is now more fun and accessible than ever. Additionally, easy-to-use design platforms such as Scratch have emerged. Sara Grimes is optimistic that these tools will lure girls and women into game design, together with boys and men who may not be enthusiastic about game design.
Ferguson, Christopher J., et al. "Violent Video Games Dont Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls Out." Psychiatric quarterly (2015): 1-8.
Granic, Isabela, Adam Lobel, and Rutger CME Engels. "The benefits of playing video games." American Psychologist 69.1 (2014): 66.
Greenfield, Patricia M. Mind and media: The effects of television, video games, and computers. Psychology Press, 2014. Print.
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