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Mon, Jul. 25th, 2005, 05:16 pm
More Research Thoughts

Warning: beware of extremely random thoughts provoked by today's reading!

At what point of the game-buying process do girls drop out? Do girls ever think, "Yeah, I'd like that game?" How many girls are driven off by the technical requirements - not that girls are scared of them, but that they don't have the hardware? Why do the games get into girls' hands at such a lower rate? Audry Taylor asks why girls will play endless Solitaire but not start up a computer game that requires any kind of installation. How many are driven off by the hassle factor? This seems useful to know.

Are women less willing to participate in activities that don't have an apparent (or purposeful) point?

Follow up: a recent brain study showed that people are terrible at self-reporting exactly what parts of a game they found fun. What brain study? Where?

Can you have tragedy in a medium in which you also have control? Case in point: Aeris in FFVII. Was that a game-like experience? How did players react to that moment?

20% of all (off-the-shelf - an important distinction) video-games are sold through Wal-Mart, and that fraction is only going to grow. How does the demographic of Wal-Mart buyers differ from other game-store buyers? There are plenty of people looking at what Wal-Mart is doing wrong (bowdlerization, censorship), but is Wal-Mart doing anything right in terms of creating a different culture of games? Do people who buy games from Wal-Mart play differently from people who are a larger part of traditional game culture?

It would be interesting to look at representations of age in video-games, which are clearly a medium aimed at youth.

Discussion on the women-dev list about The Longest Journey: is playing the game without playing through the puzzles still playing a game? Theoretically, no, but experientially, yes. How much choice can you take out of a game before it no longer feels like a game? Is the illusion of choice enough? Is the possibility of failure enough? When do players stop thinking a game is a game? How universal is the perception of "game-ness"?

Gus's research on who calls herself (or himself) a gamer: is the line of being "a gamer" versus someone who "plays games" different for men and for women? How is it different? What is most important: time spent playing games, priority of games over other hobbies, variety of games played, skill within playing games, participation in gamer culture?

I need to look at Shadowbane - evidently it's doing something interesting in terms of small-scale games (with lots of player management capacity) within a larger-scale game. (Has anyone here played?)

Is it really true that there are MUDs where you gain XP based on the number of lines in a pose? (And is this where some of the more grievous thesaurus-abuse comes from?)

Can we look at the game development process and compare it to the process of writing and making a television show? What is and isn't useful about the comparison?

Whew. Sorry for the brain-spew, folks. It's nice to be back to work, and to realize that taking some time off has really helped clear my head. :)

Mon, Jul. 25th, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC)

Gus's research on who calls herself (or himself) a gamer: is the line of being "a gamer" versus someone who "plays games" different for men and for women? How is it different? What is most important: time spent playing games, priority of games over other hobbies, variety of games played, skill within playing games, participation in gamer culture?

This is going to be a part of my dissertation. I didn't used to call myself a gamer; I do now. Looking at your list of potential criteria, all of them apply. Which makes it hard to determine which, if any, is the dominant determining factor. But it's also interesting to think about context: I think I'd be less likely to stand up and say "I am a gamer!" at GenCon than here in Bloomington. Why? Because there are large segments of gamer culture I don't actually like, and more members of those segments at GenCon than there are here, and to self-identify myself as a gamer at GenCon would implicate myself in a lot of things I don't want to be a part of. So degree of participation in the culture is clearly a part of it; I deprioritize gamer-identity when it would imply a higher degree of participation than I want to have.

Mon, Jul. 25th, 2005 09:35 pm (UTC)

You should definitely talk to Gus at some point, though she's working more on video-gaming. Maybe you two could work on parallel studies looking at hobby games and computer games, respectively? I imagine there's a lot of really interesting cross-over considering how many of the major video-game genres come out of role-playing or table-top war-games . . . .

Mon, Jul. 25th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
dificultosa: May I ask you a question?

Are arcade games part of this whole thing? I'm just wondering about extroverted people playing. I know that for myself I could never play Tekken at home but I was top score at the arcade, I wanted people and noise around. Is that something that you know about?

Tue, Jul. 26th, 2005 03:20 am (UTC)
kleenestar: Re: May I ask you a question?

Wow - that's awesome! Arcade games aren't really my area of research, but I think the ways and reasons that people play differently in public and in private are quite interesting.

My labmate is researching arcade stuff, though. Are you potentially interested in being interviewed?

Wed, Jul. 27th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
dificultosa: Re: May I ask you a question?

Yeah, sure. I'd also love to hear about that private/public behavior line.

Tue, Jul. 26th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC)

hmm, going from the women I know, yes a huge factor of why they don't pick up pc games are the installation issues. I might even go so far as to say that women who aren't really into their computers beyond internet & word processing will not get into pc games. That factors into the hardware issue, but also, I believe that the installation process of modern games is meant to be this Big Important Process of its own. You're supposed to get excited about having to put in 5 cds, seeing images from the game flash, and seeing that progress bar continue to increase. The installation is supposed to be your first intro. into how new, awesome, and hardcore the game is. But I think for someone who's not into pcs it's a scary and overwhelming process. They wouldn't install windows on their own, and they barely will install microsoft office, and only b/c they NEED it, but won't put themselves in that position for just a game. Additionally, they'll often have a fear that they'll screw something up if doing any large process on their computer, so they'll shy away from large installations b/c of that too. This may be related to how many girls own their own computers at home...like they're used to it really being their father's or their family's computer, so they're very very careful.

The other thing is that modern games, even the platformers, are really complicated. Very little is simple anymore and the worlds keep getting larger, more free-form, and more complex. Many women of my generation played nintendo and mario growing up and then stopped. Why? Well, you need to learn how to play modern games, they're a totally diff. breed, and I think that for whatever reason, the boys are more apt to experiment and face failure and get encouragement & tips from their friends about how to do something. Playing a modern game can be really overwhelming and confusing and I think many women just give up before they start. On the other hand, look at the sims...arguably the sims is just as complicated as a modern fps world, but all the activities and goals and so on are very familiar. Yes, juggling 10 things at once is a difficult aspect of the game, but it's so intuitive. You *get* it immediately, that your character needs to work and eat and get fed and read to their kids. Juggling the 10 concerns of a character in a modern game isn't quite so straight forward.

Lastly, I think the gamer culture is a huge factor. Look at any gaming magazine, go into any gaming store, etc. It's a male dominated FPS dominated geek dominated culture and I don't know another gal, besides myself, that would describe herself as a gamer. Also, console gaming is a very social activity and even I wouldn't normally play with a bunch of guys...I HATE to lose - I hate to be compared, as a girl, even if no one's thinking of that, I'm always aware of it.