Games for Learning: Does Gender Make a Difference?

Games for Learning: Does Gender Make a Difference?

Elizabeth A. Boyle (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland) and Thomas Connolly (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-360-9.ch017
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Developing educational computer games that will appeal to both males and females adds an additional level of complexity to an already complicated process. Schools and universities need to be inclusive and new learning methods and materials should aim to be gender neutral. Traditional computer games are more popular with males than females, although the use of some simple guidelines in developing games for learning should reduce this preference. However females have a more careful and committed approach to learning and may be more willing to try out new methods of learning including computer games. These opposing influences make it difficult to predict how gender will impact on the acceptance of games for learning. There is some evidence that both males and females enjoy the kinds of games that have most potential for learning. The impact of new computer games for learning needs to be evaluated to ensure that they facilitate learning without disadvantaging one gender over the other.
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Previous Research

Table 1 summarizes some of the findings of the literature on gender differences in playing computer games for leisure in terms of patterns of play, characteristics of games and reasons for playing.

Table 1.
Summary of gender differences in playing computer games for leisure: patterns of play, characteristics of games and reasons for playing
Amount of play and patterns of play
Males are much more enthusiastic players of computer games for leisure than females Gorriz & Medina (2002)
Connolly et al (2007)
More males than females play games for leisure Connolly et al (2007)
Males play for significantly longer periods of time per week than females Connolly et al (2007)
Hartmann and Klimmt (2006)
More males than females play for extended period of time Connolly et al (2007)
Males have higher IT skill levels and are more confident users of computers generally Lee (2003)
Males have better computer skills and more positive attitudes to computersBonnano & Kommers (2008)
Males are more interested in IT and computer science than females Pinker (2008)
Characteristics of games
Males prefer games with violent content, such as shoot-em-ups Connolly et al (2007)
Females prefer puzzle type gamesBonnano & Kommers (2005)
Females prefer board games, quizzes, puzzles and card/dice games Lucas and Sherry (2004)
Females prefer educational gamesGorriz & Medina (2000)
Female characters are under-represented in games Dietz (1998)
Representation of female sexuality in game characters is highly exaggerated Beasley & Standley (2002)
Males are better than females at the spatial awareness and visualisation skills that underlie many games Halpern (1992); Subrahmanyam & Greenfield (1994)
Reasons for playing games
Males give higher ratings to challenge as a reason for playing games than females Lucas and Sherry (2004)
Connolly et al (2007)
Males more likely than females to use games to increase physiological and emotional arousal and excitement Anderson and Bushman (2001)
Jansz (2005)
Games with a competitive structure appeal more to males than to females Hartmann and Klimmt (2006)
Connolly et al (2007)
Males are more likely to use computer games to socialise with their friends Lucas and Sherry (2004)
Females rate social interaction between characters in games as important Hartmann and Klimmt (2006)

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Table of Contents
Kurt Squire
Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Liz Boyle
Chapter 1
Stephen Tang, Martin Hanneghan, Abdennour El Rhalibi
Games-based learning takes advantage of gaming technologies to create a fun, motivating, and interactive virtual learning environment that promotes... Sample PDF
Introduction to Games-Based Learning
Chapter 2
Nicola Whitton
This chapter examines the rationale for the use of computer games in learning, teaching, and assessment in Higher Education. It considers their... Sample PDF
Learning and Teaching with Computer Games in Higher Education
Chapter 3
Daniel Livingstone, Jeremy Kemp, Edmund Edgar, Chris Surridge, Peter Bloomfield
Alongside the growth of interest in Games-Based Learning, there has been a notable explosion of interest in the use of 3D graphical multi-user... Sample PDF
Multi-User Virtual Environments for Learning Meet Learning Management
Chapter 4
Jean-Charles Marty, Thibault Carron, Jean-Mathias Heraud
In this chapter, the authors propose a Game-Based LMS called the pedagogical dungeon equipped with cooperation abilities for particular activities.... Sample PDF
Observation as a Requisite for Game-Based Learning Environments
Chapter 5
Marco A. Gómez-Martín, Pedro P. Gómez-Martín, Pedro A. González-Calero
A key challenge to move forward the state of the art in games-based learning systems is to facilitate instructional content creation by the domain... Sample PDF
Content Integration in Games-Based Learning Systems
Chapter 6
Matt Seeney, Helen Routledge
One of the most important differentiators between Commercial Games and Serious Games is content; delivered in a way that is successfully integrated... Sample PDF
Drawing Circles in the Sand: Integrating Content into Serious Games
Chapter 7
Mark McMahon
This chapter proposes a document-oriented instructional design model to inform the development of serious games. The model has key features in that... Sample PDF
The DODDEL Model: A Flexible Document-Oriented Model for the Design of Serious Games
Chapter 8
Daniel Burgos, Christof van Nimwegen
Serious games are suitable for learning. They are a good environment for improving the learning experience. As a key part of this setting, feedback... Sample PDF
Games-Based Learning, Destination Feedback and Adaptation: A Case Study of an Educational Planning Simulation
Chapter 9
Patrick Felicia, Ian Pitt
For a long time, users’ emotions and behaviours have been considered to obstruct rather than to help the cognitive process. Educational systems have... Sample PDF
Profiling Users in Educational Games
Chapter 10
Marco Greco
The use of Role-Playing is becoming prominent in Serious Games due to its positive effects on learning. In this chapter the author will provide a... Sample PDF
The Use of Role–Playing in Learning
Chapter 11
Sanna-Mari Tikka, Marja Kankaanranta, Tuula Nousiainen, Mari Hankala
In the context of computer games, learning is an inherent feature of computer game playing. Computer games can be seen as multimodal texts that... Sample PDF
Telling Stories with Digital Board Games: Narrative Game Worlds in Literacies Learning
Chapter 12
Colin Price
The power of computer game technology is currently being harnessed to produce “serious games”. These “games” are targeted at the education and... Sample PDF
The Path between Pedagogy and Technology: Establishing a Theoretical Basis for the Development of Educational Game Environments
Chapter 13
Sara de Freitas, Steve Jarvis
This chapter reviews some of the key research supporting the use of serious games for training in work contexts. The review indicates why serious... Sample PDF
Towards a Development Approach to Serious Games
Chapter 14
Pieter Wouters, Erik D. van der Spek, Herre van Oostendorp
Despite scant empirical substantiation, serious games are in widespread use. The authors review 28 studies with empirical data from a learning... Sample PDF
Current Practices in Serious Game Research: A Review from a Learning Outcomes Perspective
Chapter 15
Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Thomas Hainey
The field of games-based learning (GBL) has a dearth of empirical evidence supporting the validity of the approach (Connolly, Stansfield, & Hainey... Sample PDF
Towards the Development of a Games-Based Learning Evaluation Framework
Chapter 16
Helen Routledge
Based on real-world experiences using a variety of digital games, this chapter presents a guide for teachers on how to use games-based learning in... Sample PDF
Games-Based Learning in the Classroom and How it can Work!
Chapter 17
Elizabeth A. Boyle, Thomas Connolly
Developing educational computer games that will appeal to both males and females adds an additional level of complexity to an already complicated... Sample PDF
Games for Learning: Does Gender Make a Difference?
Chapter 18
Maria Saridaki, Dimitris Gouscos, Michael G. Meimaris
Students with Intellectual Disability (ID) are often described as “slow learners” and cannot easily integrate to the normal curriculum. Still, the... Sample PDF
Digital Games-Based Learning for Students with Intellectual Disability
About the Contributors