The Male-Centric Culture of Gaming

February 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm 2 comments

Change the verb “game” to “program,” and “gamer” to “hacker” in the quote below, and I think that this could almost be a transcript from Margolis and Fisher’s Unlocking the Clubhouse. Recall that Margolis and Fisher found that many of the factors that drove away women from CS at CMU were cultural and social, e.g. the male-dominated geek culture, and the bravado of showing-off knowledge in classroom questions.  Maybe it’s for the same reason that so few females take game design and programming classes?  Maybe it’s not about the technical content, or even about games, but about game culture?  As MMPORGs become increasingly dominant, the social aspect of games may become the most visible, especially to women.  It that culture is not welcoming to women, that would be a disincentive to take more classes in the field.

Who I am talking to are the guys in between, and there’s a whole swath of them. They’re the guys who claim they have no problem with “girls who game” but seem to have a problem with “girl gamers.” They’re the ones who probably wouldn’t seem to have an issue with women in their everyday lives but if one shows up on the game server, all rules of normal social decorum go out the window.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: stop assuming that women who game are trying to be this Girl Gamer you keep getting hung up on. There is no such thing.

First of all, when I ask guys like you what you mean by “trying to be a girl gamer,” the definitions are ambiguous and sketchy. “They talk a lot and act all cute.” “They’re too chatty, they just want attention.” “They…you know, act like girls.”

via The Glorious Grazers » Blog Archive » There Is No Such Thing As A Girl Gamer.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  February 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    There may be some boys who never grow out of the “girls are icky” stage who also gravatate to the sorts of games we associate with these boys – first person shooters and other macho violent games. I think we run into problems when we think of that as being what games are all about. We know that some 40% of online game players are female with middle aged women being a huge part of that. But of course they play very different games. And they do tend to be more social and less combative online.
    For CS education it may be a problem for us to focus, or perhaps allow some males, to drag us into creating games that do not appeal to as wide and diverse an audience. Games that focus more on mind puzzles, social good, educational topics or maybe just anything that isn’t sex and violence may help create a more open environment.

  • 2. iTec | The culture of gaming  |  February 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    […] The culture of gaming by asettle 19. February 2011 16:34 Mark Guzdial has another must-read blog entry: […]


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