Williams leads research in gender and gaming

Communication professor Dmitri Williams recently published new results of online game-user research in “Looking for gender (LFG): Gender roles and behaviors among online gamers” in the Journal of Communication.

Williams, who previously published a broader overview of age and gender among online game players in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,  focused specifically on gender issues in the latest research. Along with three colleagues, Williams found that previously held gender-based stereotypes of what gamers are imagined to look like have been seriously challenged.

“We were surprised by how intensely the female players played compared to the men,” Williams said. “It turns out that the true 'hard core' gamer might be older women.”

The research, which was also covered by a BBC article, showed that although more men than women played the featured game – Everquest II –  the women spent the most time playing. Williams said this shift would have interesting consequences for future designers of such games.

“Seeing how much people played versus how much they said they did will have a big impact on games research,” Williams said. “Now that we know how much they underestimated, we have to rethink older research findings.”

Some results – especially those involving gaming pairs – were even more unexpected, Williams said.

“The players who played together in couples had very different outcomes,” he said. “The men tended to be less happy and the women more happy. Apparently what's good for the goose isn't as good for the gander.”

BBC article
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