Unitarian Shootings in Knoxville
Profit & Loss

Female Players

What does the DGD2 survey data tell us about female players?

Well, first and foremost it tells us that female players consistently rate themselves lower than male players in terms of their gaming skills. This doesn’t mean that aren’t as skilled as their male counterparts – we have no way of assessing this from survey data – but it means that (depending upon your perspective) either female player underrate themselves or male players overrate themselves, when compared to the other gender. (A t-test showed that this finding was significant at the 0.01 alpha level, which means this finding is extremely significant in statistical terms).

We also found some interesting patterns in the self-assessment of emotions of play. Once again, the trend was for men to enter higher numbers into the survey, but there was a statistically significant pattern to the deviations. (The significance of the t-statistic is given in brackets in the rest of this piece).

In the case of emotions such as excitement and surprise, which we relate to the neurotransmitter epinephrine, men self-assessed higher than women (0.10), and in the case of the emotions such as anger and schadenfreude, which we relate to the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, men also self-assessed higher than women (0.16). Similarly, men self-assessed higher the importance of fiero (triumph over adversity) in their play (0.13). All of this collectively can be interpreted as meaning that female players are slightly less interested in gameplay resulting from the fight-or-flight response than male players, and that this distinction is statistically significant at the 0.05 alpha level.

One more finding in connection with emotions: female players rate lower the importance of curiosity to their play (0.0). This one is especially mysterious as it is the opposite of what might have been predicted. However, this may be a consequence of the wording of the curiosity question, which may have narrowed the meaning of the term artificially. Further investigation is recommended.

On the subjects of negative emotions (such as sadness, disgust, contempt, guilt, embarrassment), social emotions (gratitude, naches, envy, belonging) and amusement there was no discernible difference between genders, nor on the issue of obsessive play (which was the only emotions measure in on which women scored more highly than men, but the difference was extremely small and not statistically significant).

When examining the patterns of play respondents enjoyed, a similar trend was revealed: women, for the most part, gave lower numbers than men. This was true for games of fiero i.e. certain forms of agon (competition) and alea (chance) (0.13) and games of excitement i.e. ilinx (vertigo) (0.09), as well as games of escapism i.e. certain forms of mimicry (simulation), paidia (unstructured play) and social ilinx (e.g. “sandcastle stomping”) (0.00). Furthermore, male players rated ludus (structured play) higher than female players (0.02).

So what patterns of play did female players rate higher than male players? Well although they scored more highly on what we term role-play (various forms of mimicry) this finding was not statistically significant in this sample. However, women did rate higher than men the importance of sandbox-type play to their enjoyment (0.10), which was an expected result.

Overall, the main finding of this part of the statistical analysis is that which was introduced at the start of this piece: women consistently provide lower numbers to describe their game playing competences, the importance of emotions to their play, and their enjoyment of various patterns of play. However, it is also telling in which specific areas this finding proved statistically significant.

It is probably premature to make a statement of the kind that women are less interested in fiero or excitement than men, but the findings in respect of gender do suggest that men are more interested in gameplay generated by the fight-or-flight response than women, and that women would in general prefer to play in an apparently unstructured way, or in a form with few penalties for experimentation (e.g. sandbox games).

Remember, however, that these are trends that have been detected at a statistical level: you can’t reason from the general to the specific in this case, so what seems to be shown by a sample of 141 women tells you nothing about an individual you meet who also happens to be female e.g. the fact that statistically most women likes flowers doesn’t allow you to assume that every women you meet likes flowers – they might have a pollen allergy, or an anti-barbie complex, or they might simply not like flowers. You just can’t know anything about individuals without talking to them as individuals.

Also, it is worth nothing that there were more than 6 times as many male players in the DGD2 sample (891 vs 141) which in itself shows up a problem in gathering data about female players in an industry which has geared itself quite heavily towards making games for teenage boys.

More DGD2 number crunching soon.

Comments

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"It is probably premature to make a statement of the kind that women are less interested in fiero or excitement than men"

I was a little surprised by this paragraph. It seems to me that you are trying to back up statistically what you already know about the differences in gameplay preferences. I don't think it's premature to say this. I'd say it's about damn time. :)
Can't wait for more number crunching!

...girls play videogames?! I call shenanigans >:O

Until today, I hadn't even known about Gosset's t-test, so until I read up more, the numbers will remain opaque to me.

The overriding message to me though is that men are more likely to overrate EVERYTHING - perhaps a reason for the ridiculous scores handed out by certain magazines, where a 'dull', 'boring' game will still get 60%+

A statistically insignificant number of people also showed that females use lower numbers when self-rating appearance. I wonder if any statistically-relevant research has been done on this.

Sirc: :)

dj i/o: My feeling is that one statistical study of a self-assessment survey is far from compelling scientific proof of anything. But yes, it does broadly confirm things I have been observing for a while now. ;)

it means that (depending upon your perspective) either female player underrate themselves or male players overrate themselves, when compared to the other gender

I call foul. You have no way of knowing this from your information unless you have objective ratings for the males and females responding to your survey - as you acknowledge earlier in the paragraph. Do you have this information?

Bezman: I hire a statistician for this stuff - it's magic as far as I'm concerned! :D

It's an interesting claim you are (nearly) making here - men overrate, women underrate. Would love to see this followed up, and also explored cross culturally. It could be a cultural and not a biological artefact.

Ah, so many pointless things to investigate and so little time. ;)

Peter: "I call foul. You have no way of knowing this from your information unless you have objective ratings for the males and females responding to your survey - as you acknowledge earlier in the paragraph. Do you have this information?"

You know I don't - how could I? ;) But I thought I'd already covered myself with half a dozen disclaimers here. What exactly is the foul? That I'm claiming that one interpretation of the data is that men overrate/women underrate with respect to each other's values? Even without an objective measure to refer to (which of course I can't get from a survey) the point still stands that across all measures men give higher values and women give lower values - that's all I mean by overrate and underrate in this instance.

It's statistically significant that the women's values on all measures are lower than the mens (or, that the men's are higher than the women's). That's the finding here. So perhaps your objection relates to your interpretation of the words "overrate" and "underrate" in that you feel this claims reference to an objective secondary measure. Because that's not what I meant. I just meant "rate higher than" and "rate lower than", which is the precisely the finding.

Please clarify. :)

Thanks!

the point still stands that across all measures men give higher values and women give lower values - that's all I mean by overrate and underrate in this instance

Ah, OK. We're playing two different language games - thanks for clarifying. To me, your phrasing in that paragraph (only!) read like they were overrating or underrating "themselves" = "their gaming skills". I really shouldn't read your posts when up to my ears in work... sorry.

Chris, a few comments on this:

Emotions in play: One particular thing here is that "simulated" emotions are not the same as the emotions of real people. My experience in MMOs that girls are much more sensitive for the mood of other players, but they do not care at all about what NPCs "feel", because that is not "real". Obviously, this is not something I can scientifically prove, and I may be wrong, but this is definitely something that would worth considering.

Also, when you say "sandbox like", what does that exactly mean? Games where you can control a lot of your environment, build, craft, etc? (like Wurm). Or simply games that are not linear, like Oblivion?

I'd like to make the next step here, and - based on your findings - just think about an mmo game targeted mainly for the female audience.

(I've checked the Open World article on wikipedia, which is basically what I think about sandbox game, but I am curious whether we mean the same thing by it)

Wow, where did this come into the discussion? Did I link back to this or did you just unearth it independently? :) [Edit: I see! I linked to it in a comment for Fe/Male. That makes a lot more sense...]

As far as I can tell, you are bang on about female players and NPCs. Behaviour towards other players and behaviour towards NPCs are two different matters entirely (for many but not all female players). Male players have similar distinctions, but are more likely to engage in "hostile" play against other humans. There's some work to be done here, which alas I haven't done yet.

Sandbox-like means games that are open worlds *and* have lots of different toys in them. Just being a big open space isn't enough for me to qualify as a sandbox. I don't personally prefer this term - I like "playground world", which I've used elsewhere. I use "sandbox" precisely because it is supposed to be well known what is implied by this. :)

I've just been writing up this research for a paper which should see print later this year - I'll try and link to it at ihobo when it's available. If this piece interests you, you should check the finished paper.

Cheers!

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