Magazine article The Futurist

Closing the Gender Gap in Online Gaming: Time-Management Differences May Help Explain the Gaming Gender Gap

Magazine article The Futurist

Closing the Gender Gap in Online Gaming: Time-Management Differences May Help Explain the Gaming Gender Gap

Article excerpt

Computer games can serve as a gateway to the fields of technology and science. Technology's more entertaining aspects awaken youth interest and encourage careers in the field. If the gender gap in these predominantly male professions is going to close, then gaming may provide a solid means of boosting computer technology's appeal among females.

At present, boys spend much more time on average playing video games than girls do. There are a number of reasons for this, but a recent study by Michigan State University adds a new and unexpected explanation to the list: time-management differences.

In the study, females reported having less free time, which they budgeted in smaller increments. Males who played video games reported more leisure time overall, enjoyed over sustained periods of time, while females spent more time occupied with other activities. So, women are less likely to play time-intensive online games such as World of Warcraft not because the fantasy elements don't appeal to them, but because they don't feel they have enough free time to invest in seemingly endless quests and missions.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Researchers Jillian Winn and Carrie Heater report that the survey data also revealed gender-specific play patterns. Boys have longer attention spans when it comes to games, while girls tend to enjoy playing for shorter periods of time. Games that can be more easily postponed or played incrementally hold greater appeal for them.

This may help explain why casual games are much more popular among females. These relatively simple games can be played in bite-sized chunks of time (around 5-10 minutes) on one's iPhone while commuting on the subway or waiting in line. Interestingly, they appeal the most to women over 30--those least likely to have spent most of their youth in front of a game console, as the study points out. …

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