[MUD-Dev] Male and female brains

John Arras johna at wam.umd.edu
Fri May 16 19:11:25 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


On Thu, 15 May 2003, Marian Griffith wrote:

>> 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.  <snip>

> All girls do not like Barby, and if they do, they are more than
> li- kely to enjoy other things as well.  <snip>

Well, I can't claim to know what other people like. I can only point
out patterns in things that I've observed while growing up. I am not
sure if they actually like these things, or if they would like other
toys, but these are the things that most of them end up playing
with.

> 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.

Yep. Like you said above, why do they *get* these things? Is it that
the parents want their kids to "fit in"? I think that's a big part
of it, since most parents won't want their kids to stand out and be
different (in a bad way) if they can avoid it.

> 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.  

What sorts of features would you want in this game? I like combat in
games, but I am trying to add things to do to my game that aren't
combat oriented. Things like lots of crafting and activities where
people can make their mark on the world in other ways than with the
pointy end of their swords.

>> 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?

My actual reaction wasn't quite that bad, but I gave it a shrug when
I saw it. OTOH, I don't like FPSes since all you do is run around
and kill stuff for no reason. I also scored rather low on the EQ
test that started this thread, so that's probably coloring my
reaction.

Here's a hypothetical question for people on the list:

You know a boy who likes to play with dolls, but you know that he
doesn't play with them when his friends are around. His birthday is
coming up and he's going to have a big party. Would you give him
dolls at his party in front of his friends? Would you give them to
him privately? Would you feel conflicted? Would you not give him
dolls at all? Something else?

I think I would give him dolls privately but I wouldn't do it at the
party because I wouldn't want his friends to make fun of him. I
might even ask his parents if I should do this or not.

I don't know for sure if his friends would make fun of him, but if I
had seen a boy getting dolls on his birthday as a child, I probably
would have laughed and made fun of him. I would have thought that
the grownup made a mistake and I think the poor boy would have been
terribly embarrassed by the whole thing. I don't think I would have
wanted to be mean, and I might have felt bad, but I still would have
gone along with the pack. Even if the grownups know that the pack is
"wrong", it's still no fun to being laughed at.

And even now that I know that it doesn't matter if boys play with
dolls, or girls play with guns, I still don't think I would step
outside of the societal norms to give a boy a "girly toy" in front
of his friends. Even if I knew that he liked things like that.

John


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