UTD study looks at girls and video games


340w ago - UTD study finds video-game market isn't reaching girls. Girls want to play video games. But boys aren't interested in making the games that girls want to play. Those are the basic findings of a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The analysts surveyed 43 mothers, along with 57 daughters between the ages of 7 and 20, in California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Utah.

The study, "Serious Games for IM Generation Girls," found that all of the girls and women surveyed had played computer or video games at some point, but only three-quarters were currently into games.

And while it sounds a little stereotypical, the researchers found that girls' "interest in computer games that allowed them immersion into the virtual worlds of horses, weddings, fashion, and cars was very high."

Gears of War, Manhunt 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4, in other words, are not on their shopping lists, but The Sims sure is.

You can read highlights of the report here.

While female-centric games could add another billion dollars in revenue for the industry, the researchers said there are some obstacles:

• "The primary reason for the lack of success in computer games for girls is that most of the computer games do not address the interests or personalities of IM generation girls, especially past the age of 11."

• "Many game programmers and artists do not want to work on 'girl' games or serious games."

• "Those who are willing to try have an extremely difficult time thinking 'girl.' "

• "[Games for girls need] to be nonviolent with lots of role playing, age appropriate adventure, a peaceful buildup and a rewarding conclusion."

Male gamers weaned on Halo, Half-Life, Soldier of Fortune and F.E.A.R., may roll their eyes at these findings, but developers and publishers need to be more visionary.

While you occasionally see a Barbie Horse Adventures or Nancy Drew title slip into the best-selling games lists, these sorts of obviously female-centric games are few and far between.

The reason those games are rare is that the majority of developers are guys raised on hyperactive shooters, cloak-and-dagger role-playing games and chest-thumping sports titles.

Really the only famous and successful female developer that I know of is Roberta Williams, now retired, who helped create King's Quest and other graphical adventure games more than a decade ago.

While there are other women working in the game development industry now, none has the clout of, say, John Carmack (Doom and Quake), Gabe Newell (Half-Life), Will Wright (The Sims), Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War) or Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario).

In other words, there are no female developers out there right now who have the clout to singlehandedly push for and create games for girls.

The UTD researchers say they plan to do a much larger follow-up study to draft some guidelines for developers who want to jump into this market.

And I expect there will be a few, because $1 billion is a lot of motivation.



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