[MUD-Dev] Male and female brains

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Thu May 15 22:11:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Thu 08 May, John Arras wrote:
> On Wed, 7 May 2003, Marian Griffith wrote:

>> I still maintain that there is NO such things as a "girls like
>> this" or "boys like that" possible. Considering the way games are
>> marketed almost to the deliberate exclusion of girls, it is a
>> surprise to find any girl playing games at all.  Of those that do
>> they are conditioned in two directions. By the game that strong-
>> ly focus on violent competitive subjects with a high degree of
>> spa- tial coordination (which boys tend to excell at) while
>> society and culture strongly disapprove of such an interest in
>> girls.  I do not know if girls play The Sims because they enjoy
>> it or because it is one of the few games that is socially
>> acceptable for them to play, and that is actually marketed
>> towards girls as well.

> Why do girls play with dolls and boys play with action figures?

Why do girls *get* dolls and boys action figures?

But to be honest, I do not claim that there is no difference between
boys and girls.  However,  I *do* object to sweeping generalisations
about what 'girls' like or what 'boys' like.

All boys  do not like violent computer games  where they get to blow
up a lot of stuff. Boys are diverse in their tastes in games. And in
fact boys likely have many different likes in their games.

All girls do not like Barby,  and if they do, they are more than li-
kely to enjoy other things as well.  Anecdotal evidence,  but I play
roleplay oriented Mushes,  combat oriented Muds  (though less than I
used to). I do not like very much to play Starcraft because I am not
at all good at it,  but my husband does and we occasionally play to-
gether. I played Morrowind and have looked at the Sims, though never
invested enough time in it  to really get hooked.  There are several
other games  that I have played in the past,  but I think that I can
say that my gaming tastes range widely and that the same is true for
just about every other player, male or female.

> I don't know for sure, but I think whatever causes that to happen
> is the same mechanism at work here. And I know I'm stereotyping,
> but this is what I remember from my childhood, and just about
> every other child I've ever seen. I don't know if we're hardwired
> that way, or society makes us play in those ways, but it's
> probably the same underlying principle that makes the Sims is so
> popular with girls and women.

There probably is some biological hardwiring in place,  though it is
likely far weaker than we tend to think,  and what evidence there is
of it  is pretty insubstantial.  From what I have seen of very young
children I would say that individual character is much stronger than
any biological impulse. There are rowdy girls and nurturing boys but
social pressure is pretty strong.
Girls are not supposed to run around  and do all those active things
that boys are encouraged to do, and even their clothing reflects it.
They get dresses and skirts  and generally lighter  and more fragile
fabrics where boys get darker colours and sturdy trousers  that they
can easily run and climb in and that do not show stains quite as bad
Girls generally get kept on a shorter leash  while boys are allowed,
even encouraged, to go out and explore.

It probably is impossible to find out how much of this is nature and
how much is nurture,  not without resorting to some pretty unethical
experiments.  Still, I feel that marketing is to a large extent res-
ponsible for which games get picked by girls and which by boys. As I
said, the Sims is one of the few games I have seen  that were adver-
tised in magazines that girls are likely to read.

What I dearly would like to be able to do is to create my own compu-
ter game that would be attractive for the playing style that is more
typical for girls and women.  Unfortunately I am not up to it  so it
has to remain a dream.

I really should add  more to the !Overlord pages  about what I think
should be in a good game.

> It's probably also why so many devs don't get the Sims, since it
> triggers the visceral "Ewww Barbies! Those are for girls!" response.

Well,  the only developers I know of are the ones on this list.  How
many of you have that reaction?

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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