Gaming as a Woman: Gender Difference Issues in Video Games and Learning

Gaming as a Woman: Gender Difference Issues in Video Games and Learning

Kristen B. Miller (Tuskegee University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2670-6.ch007


This chapter reports the findings of two surveys taken by players of the video game Rock Band. The purpose of the surveys was to determine what differences, if any, exist between the ways that males and females learn to play the game, are motivated to improve, interact with other players both online and in real life, and interact with other players in online communities for the game. This study suggests that while females do not appear to learn to play this game much differently from males, they are motivated differently and interact with other players differently, and ultimately they have a harder time than males finding a place in the affinity groups that exist for the game, and these findings provide starting points for teachers who intend to use video games and virtual worlds for educational purposes in guarding against creating a “gender gap” between males and females.
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In his 2003 work What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee makes the suggestion that video games should become a tool for improving education. Gee makes the case that playing and improving at video games is a literate practice that follows patterns similar to learning real-life skills, and that many games are designed well enough to motivate the player through many failures in order to acquire the skills necessary to succeed. Cynthia Selfe and Gail Hawisher follow up on Gee’s ideas with their 2007 collection Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century, which looks at individual gamers from many demographics “to offer historical and cultural analyses of their literacy development, practices, and values” (p. 1). Together, through their examination of gaming as a type of literacy, these works suggest two primary purposes to this vein of inquiry: modeling our teaching methods after those utilized in the design of video games and actually using games and similar virtual worlds to teach.

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