Girls game less because they have less free time, study

Jul 24, 2009
Girls game less because they have less free time, study
Carrie Heeter is a professor of telecommunication, information studies and media. She is co-author of a newly published paper on gaming and gender. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Michigan State University study finds that girls spend less time playing digital games than boys because they have less leisure time, a finding that could have long-term implications on the technology gender gap.

The study of 276 MSU undergraduate students, published in a recent issue of the journal Sex Roles, found that female undergraduates spent significantly more time - about 16 hours per week - on jobs, homework and other activities than did male undergraduates.

“Our findings suggest that one reason women play fewer games than men is because they are required to fulfill more obligatory activities, leaving them less available leisure time,” said Jillian Winn of MSU’s Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media, and one of the co-authors of the study.

According to the study, male college undergraduates reported having nearly twice as much free time per week than female college undergraduates - about nine hours per week for men compared to about four hours for women.

The study, which asked the respondents to estimate how many hours they spent gaming not only as a college student but also in middle and high schools, found that students - both male and female - that gamed more at an early age continued to do so later in life.

“Frequent gamers in college,” Winn said, “also tended to be heavier gamers in high school and middle school.”

Overall, the study found that males played significantly more than females at all three stages of life - an average of 266 more hours per year each year of middle school, 305 more hours per year each year of high school and 225 more hours per year in college.

While gaming is associated with less time spent doing homework, it does not seem to have an impact on a student’s GPA.

In addition to , another possible contributor to girls’ lack of interest in gaming is the lack of females working in the game-design industry. A side effect is games that are better adapted to male needs and interests, said Carrie Heeter, study co-author and a professor of telecommunication, information studies and media.

“Game career studies have shown that 88 percent of game developers are male,” Heeter said.

“Researchers have proposed a ‘virtuous cycle’: If more women were involved in creating games, games would appeal more to women, and they would be attracted to the game industry.”

Additionally, more learning games are entering the classroom as alternative teaching tools, which are thought to be more “fun” and interactive than traditional instruction.

“Games for learning may actually appeal to girls’ interest in multitasking leisure with work,” Heeter said. “Learning games may also turn girls off, if they are created in genres strongly preferred by males. It’s a delicate balancing act to engage both sexes.”

The research also has implications for designers who are interested in reaching a wide audience. Women, Heeter said, use the same technologies as men, but studies show that biologically their brains may respond in different ways.

“Games designed to optimally appeal to women might minimize in-game performance pressure, provide real-world benefits such as stress relief, brain exercise or more quality time with family and friends, and be playable in short chunks of time,” she said.

More information: To view a copy of the study, go here.

Provided by Michigan State University (news : web)

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User comments : 23

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docknowledge
3.9 / 5 (7) Jul 24, 2009
Uh, wait a minute. "spent more time on other activities"? What other activities? Couldn't this just mean that girls prefer to spend time on other activities besides games?
superhuman
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2009
Women are after qualities which are much harder to implement in games. For example women are more after in-game socializing and less after achieving in-game goals then men.
earls
4 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2009
Sounds like WoW would be perfect for them. Consider the popularity of the Sims or Spore among females. I disagree the qualities are harder to implement, only that it's done less so. Games today are primarily destructive and competitive versus constructive and/or cooperative.
defunctdiety
4.5 / 5 (2) Jul 24, 2009
Sounds like WoW would be perfect for them. Consider the popularity of the Sims or Spore among females. I disagree the qualities are harder to implement, only that it's done less so.


C'mon, WoW is grinding (if you want anything "cool") and if you just want to socialize, why pay $15 per month to chat... I don't see how WoW appeals to anyone truely but, meh. The social interaction would be more on the level of the Sims as you said or even RP, which WoW is devoid of...

And I disagree that it's done less so, there's lots of social games out there, it's just that many are free to play (glorified chat rooms, 2nd Life) and it is therefore less profitable and not a very good business model (pay to chat? no.), not to mention the significant IRL social stigma attached. :P
earls
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2009
"why pay $15 per month to chat"

I don't know? Why do they? "Chat" seems to be the core aspect of the game to me. We need more Leroy Jenkins.

Good catch with Second Life, consider the success of that "game" among females.

There ARE a lot of social games out there, but I still think they're the minority. You disagree and then give two great reason why they would be less popular and plentiful?
defunctdiety
5 / 5 (2) Jul 24, 2009
You disagree and then give two great reason why they would be less popular and plentiful?


I guess my logic upended itself. There's lot's of online social "forums" out there, they're just not "games" really in the classical sense... So yeah, actual games with a social focus are done less so, sure.
Nydoc
2.4 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2009
These comments are retarded. The problem isn't that the games aren't appealing to girls. The problem is that boys spend too much time playing them.
dbob
4.3 / 5 (7) Jul 24, 2009
Why was this published? The conclusion was "girls spend less time playing digital games than boys because they have less leisure time", but this is a (dubious) statement about college students. The authors note that game playing habits are established during grade and high school, however, where there are no differences between leisure time. This completely invalidates the authors' thesis, which should have been that females play less than males at all ages.

The obnoxious implication that females have less time than boys due to their increased participation in jobs and study activities falls apart when it is revealed that they also spend time on "other activities". What these undisclosed activities are don't really matter; what counts is that the authors have posited a scenario where females are virtuous, hard working, good students, while the males waste their time playing games. This is sexist, offensive, and shouldn't be on PhysOrg (which seems to have a liking for male-bashing), much less a professional journal.
otto1923
5 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2009
Probably hair, nails, makeup... uh, cooking, -? I mean maybe, that's the implication you're referring to? Shopping?
gopher65
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2009
"hair, nails, makeup"

Probably, yeah. Many women also bathe more often than men, and wash their clothes more often. Smelling good and looking good takes a lot of time, unfortunately:P.
docknowledge
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2009
Nydoc (puts arm around your shoulder). Buddy. Come let me introduce you to Second Life. My impression is that "girls" like it quite well.
otto1923
not rated yet Jul 24, 2009
You sure they're girls? You're implying maybe they're not??
Mauricio
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2009
they spend their time gossiping, shopping, and watching tv.

cooking? guys, come on! where you have been in the last decades? women don't cook anymore!!!

70% of people in the US have their breakfast at a fast food restaurant. Doubt that the other 30% are eating home made meals... maybe a 5%? a 10%?
Soylent
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2009
The obnoxious implication that females have less time than boys due to their increased participation in jobs and study activities falls apart when it is revealed that they also spend time on "other activities". What these undisclosed activities are don't really matter; what counts is that the authors have posited a scenario where females are virtuous, hard working, good students, while the males waste their time playing games. This is sexist, offensive, and shouldn't be on PhysOrg (which seems to have a liking for male-bashing), much less a professional journal.


You've got that upside down. Men manage to get similar GPA scores with less time expended on studying. Unless men are just better at gaming the system, this should be seen as flattering.

Gaming is not an entirely unproductive activity. Even a humble FPS hones your skills in the infinitely recursive game of predicting what other people are going to do(they act in the game not only because of internal motivation, "get the rocket launcher", but because they know that you know that they want the rocket launcher and they can predict how you will attempt to stop them and adjust their behaviour accordingly).

If reality is sexist, researches should be applauded for noting that fact rather than taking the cowards way out and glossing over it.
g33kch1ck
5 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2009
I'm a woman and a gamer, and I'm just as apt to pick up a BFG and mow down my opponent as my boyfriend. The single biggest draw to a game for me is whether it has a compelling story line. I've been playing Bungie's games since "Marathon," because it tends to focus just as much on story as on game quality, physics, and objective. I don't lack time to game, I lack selection.
g33kch1ck
not rated yet Jul 26, 2009
Women are after qualities which are much harder to implement in games. For example women are more after in-game socializing and less after achieving in-game goals then men.

And I don't agree with this statement; I don't have the slightest interest in talking to you while on a killing spree, and I'm just as motivated by game objective as any other gamer I know.
vanderMerwe
not rated yet Jul 26, 2009
Back in the 1990's there was a concerted effort to bring girls into gaming. The startups that tried failed pretty much across the board. Mind, they were typically started by women and had females overrepresented on their staffs.

I suspect that if the gaming industry is pressured to make games "more inclusive" it is in for a rough patch of reduced sales.
vanderMerwe
not rated yet Jul 26, 2009
The other thing to remember about gaming vis a vis education is that many of the games develop skills WAY up Bloom's Taxonomy, something that conventional schooling rarely, if ever, manages. I see gaming as the new paradigm for male education now that public schools have become so opressively feminised.
Slotin
1 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2009
For example, women spend one year of their life in front of the wardrobe

http://www.javno....e_269398
Edylc
not rated yet Jul 27, 2009
Really good story driven games that have lots of parts that are like a "chick flick" actually have a lot of female players. Take for example, Mass Effect.

But all in all I would say this was a completely pointless study. Like the one " A recent study shows exercise and good diet can help overcome obesity"

iknow
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2009
Only 1 person got it right...shame on ya all...well done Slotin....."For example, women spend one year of their life in front of the wardrobe"

I have a little sister who plays games...but she also changes her clothes 3 times a day...that must take some time....

Us blokes will wear 1 set of clothes for 3 days, spending all of 5 minutes getting ready..
Velanarris
not rated yet Jul 29, 2009
This isn't a "study", it's a poll.

There's no control, no baseline, and no evidence.

The study of 276 MSU undergraduate students, published in a recent issue of the journal Sex Roles, found that female undergraduates spent significantly more time - about 16 hours per week - on jobs, homework and other activities than did male undergraduates.

This is a very general statement and implies one of several things. The few that come to mind are:

women in college have more homework than men
women in college have more time consuming jobs than men
or women prefer activities other than playing video games

I'd go with number 3. The majority of games on the market do not appeal to a large percentage of the female populace of relevant age. So rather than playing games, they'd prefer to engage in other activities.

The title "Girls game less because they have less free time" is bullshit. They have jsut as much free time and prefer to engage in other activities, thus limiting their gaming because it doesn't appeal to them on the average.

FYI, I said "average". That means there are exceptions to this, g33kch1ck being one of many.
rincewind
not rated yet Jul 29, 2009
"Free Time" is nonsensical phrase.

Think about it.