I've always been interested in games and gender. (In fact, my original impetus for getting into game design was wondering how to get more women and girls to be playful with technology!) I've been loosely following the research on this topic, and it seems to fall into two distinct camps. The more superficial approach talks about boobs, guns and male/female character ratios - not unimportant issues, but not ones that get at the heart of the differences between male and female play. A more thoughtful approach talks about women's lives and how games fit into them. For example, women tend to have less free time than men do (don't get me started on gender differences in work hours and housework!), which is part of why women don't play as many large-scale games. I'm wondering, though, whether there's a third approach - one that looks at how women feel about play, and about whether they are socialized to play and culturally permitted to play. Does anyone know about research on gender differences in beliefs and attitudes about play? I think it would be useful to look at media portrayals of women and men playing, as well as observations and interviews of women and men at different points in their lives, but before I get too into this, I'd like to read about what's out there.
FYI, folks, I think that within the next month or so I will be starting a research blog for relevant links, random thoughts like these, and reports on progress. I'll post when it's up, and maybe I'll see some of y'all over there? I'll continue to post personal stuff on here, of course - I don't think I can live without my friends-locking. :)