You Are What You Play? A Quantitative Study into Game Design Preferences across Gender and Their Interaction with Gaming Habits

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DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play
DiGRA/Utrecht School of the Arts, January, 2011
Volume: 6
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666


Digital games, like 먹튀검증업체, have a history of being seen as boys’ toys (Heeter & Winn, 2008; Bulley, 2009). As an explanation for the gender bias of gaming as a pastime, previous research has pointed to the male dominance in the game industry (Flanagan, 2005; Herrling, 2006; Fullerton et al., 2008), the gender bias of game spaces and culture (Bryce, Rutter & Sullivan, 2006; Taylor et al., 2009), and digital exclusion (Bertozzi, 2008, Linn, 2008). Other studies point to the fact that game content all too often highlights male themes and sexual representations of females in games (Gorriz & Medina, 2000; Ogletree & Drake, 2007; Down & Smith, 2009). Nonetheless, gaming is now rapidly gaining popularity as a pastime among women (Bryce & Rutter, 2002; PIP, 2008; ESA, 2008; Vosmeer, 2010). Moreover, there is a growing interest of the game industry in the female demographic with more and more ‘girl game’ releases (ESA, 2008). This could point to intrinsic differences in game design preferences between female and male gamers. Yet previous research has shown that gender differences in gaming habits and preferences are to a large extent due to issues of access and previous experience (Jenson et al., 2007). The purpose of this study is to shed light on the differences in game design preferences between female and male gamers and their relation to previous game experience. Thus we aim to gain insight into the relationship between gender and type of player as interacting factors. Our hypothesis thereby is that gender differences in game design preferences diminish among core genre players because of more similar interests and experience. For testing this hypothesis we distinguish between ’core’ genre players (CP) and ‘non-core’ genre players (NCP), and between male and female gamers. Respondents who play shooters, fighting, action-adventure, sports, racing, strategy or MMO games at least once a week are considered to be core genre players. Our goal thereby is not to define absolute categories but rather to make an ad hoc distinction between those gamers with extensive experience with core genres and those without for the purpose of this inquiry. By means of a 2*2 between-subjects ANOVA design using an online survey (N=983), we examine the main effects of gender, core genre players (CP/NCP) and the interaction effects between both independent variables. The results show that the game preferences of male CP, female CP and male NCP are often in line with one another, while those of female NCP are different, which confirms our hypothesis. We find that gender differences in the items “I like interaction between virtual characters”, “A good storyline is important to me” and “I love sideline activities” depend on whether the respondents are CP or not. While female NCP are less attracted to those features, male CP like them the most. Women are generally more annoyed by (realistic) violence than men. However, this effect interacts with being a CP, suggesting that female NCP are more exasperated by in-game violence than other players. Although the effect size of gender is largest for elements of violence, there are no gender differences found for whether a player wants to ‘solve a problem’ instead of ‘conquering something’. Only NCP are more interested in solving than in defeating an opponent. Concerning the complexity of games (e.g. easy to handle, manageable controls, logical in-game principles), main effects are found for women and NCP, indicating that they prefer less complicated game play. Moreover, the two independent variables interact indicating that gender differences depend on being a CP or NCP. Furthermore, when exploring the effect of sexual representations of female characters in games, women and NCP have a stronger aversion to stereotypical images than men and CP. There is no interaction effect, however, which indicates that the same gender differences would be seen for both CP and NCP. Nonetheless, more women than men choose to play with an attractive character of the same gender, with no exceptions between NCP and CP. This is not the case for customizing the game character as this depends on the interaction between gender and CP/NCP and indicates that particularly female CP appreciate this. Whereas there is no main effect of gender on preference of imaginative game settings, CP seem to favor this. Remarkably, there is an interaction effect between gender and being a CP/NCP, indicating that female CP prefer fantasy settings the most while female NCP are the least enthusiastic. A similar result is found for the preference of humoristic games, in which female NCP are interested the most and female CP the least.