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  • Master's Thesis: Video Play Pathways for Females: Developing Theory

    [09.06.06]
    - Meredith Aquila
  • DDR

    Abstract

    This study explores the diversity of females in the realm of video games. Previous studies have focused on the differences between males and females in order to understand the dearth of female gamers. However, these studies have failed to acknowledge that even among subjects of the same gender, great diversity can, and does, exist. For this reason, the research contained herein will focus solely on females; trying to understand what sets female gamers (for they do exist) apart from female non-gamers.

    The main question guiding this thesis is; “How do female gamers and non-gamers differ in their perceptions of and engagements with video games?” That is, how do members of each group (gamer vs. non-gamer) tend to define videogames? How and why do they interact with them (for social reasons, for the challenge, to relieve boredom, because they are conveniently available, etc.) if they interact with them at all? How do their videogame experiences relate to childhood experiences, non-game interests/skills, and social climate if there is any correlation at all?


    The project sought out women who have set themselves apart by participating in game-related activities (the Cornell Dance Dance Revolution Club and the Game Design Initiative at Cornell) and compared their experiences and opinions to those of women who neither participate in these activities nor would consider themselves “gamers” in any other way. Some of these non-gamers were found among participants in a pilot study. Others were found within COMM201—an undergraduate communication class. In-depth one-on-one interviews provided the data that helps us to see the complexity of the female game experience.


    Results of the study indicate that the dearth of female gamers may be tied to social factors more than the psychological ones some scholars have proposed. At younger ages, females seem to generally enjoy video games and other recreational technologies however, with maturity and gender socialization come a mindset that “women don’t play video games”. In order to overcome the gaming gender gap, it may be necessary to change the way we as researchers think about games in order to change the way that women think about them. Furthermore, in order to advance the field of video game research, it may be necessary to question some popular assumptions, and press for standardized definitions of the major terminology.

    "Video Play Pathways for Females: Developing Theory" by Meredith Aquila, Master's Thesis, Cornell University, 77 pages, Adobe Acrobat (319 KB).

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