Conference PaperPDF Available

Little Big Difference: Gender Aspects and Gender-Based Adaptation in Educational Games


Abstract and Figures

Computer games are tremendously successful and this is why the potential of using this medium for educational purposes is increasingly recognized and researched. However, as new learning technologies need to be appropriate for all students and ensure equal learning opportunities, it is important to take into account evidences on gender differences in the context of computer games. This paper reviews relevant research results on gender aspects. Aiming for the realization of gender-based adaptation in digital educational games, a model incorporating research evidences on gender aspects is elaborated and implications for adaptation are derived. Adaptation principles and game design are illustrated by means of the 80Days project.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Little Big Difference: Gender Aspects and
Gender-Based Adaptation in Educational Games
Christina M. Steiner, Michael D. Kickmeier-Rust, & Dietrich Albert
University of Graz, Department of Psychology, Cognitive Science Section
Universitätsplatz 2, 8010 Graz, Austria
{chr.steiner, michael.kickmeier, dietrich.albert}
Abstract. Computer games are tremendously successful and this is why the
potential of using this medium for educational purposes is increasingly
recognized and researched. However, as new learning technologies need to be
appropriate for all students and ensure equal learning opportunities, it is
important to take into account evidences on gender differences in the context of
computer games. This paper reviews relevant research results on gender
aspects. Aiming for the realization of gender-based adaptation in digital
educational games, a model incorporating research evidences on gender aspects
is elaborated and implications for adaptation are derived. Adaptation principles
and game design are illustrated by means of the 80Days project.
Keywords: game-based learning, educational game, adaptation, gender
difference, game design.
1 Introduction
The young generation is familiar with information technology from earliest childhood
on. Today’s children grow up being surrounded by and using the whole range of toys
and tools of the digital age – computers, video games, internet, music players, cell
phones, etc. and consequently, these children are – in the words of Marc Prensky – no
longer digital immigrants but rather digital natives [1]. This development necessarily
also has consequences for education. As Prensky points out, students of today are no
longer the kind of students our educational system was designed for. As a result, the
use of computer technology for learning must not and has not stopped short of
The fact that young learners of today spend a considerable portion of their lifetime
watching TV and playing computer games – by far more than for reading, needs to be
reflected by taking advantage and utilizing these very technologies for educational
purposes. Computer games, with their dynamic and active nature, their rich and
appealing possibilities are an incredibly successful technology, whose potential of
being used for learning has been increasingly addressed since the 1990s. The central
idea of game-based learning is to utilize at least part of the time people spend on
playing computer games for educational intentions [2].
Steiner, C. M., Kickmeier-Rust, M. D., & Albert, D. (2009). Little big difference:
Gender aspects and gender-based adaptation in educational games. Proceedings of
the 4th International Conference on E-Learning and Games (EDUTAINMENT 2009),
August 9-11, 2009, Banff, Canada. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Vol. 5670,
pp. 150-161). Berlin: Springer
A critical aspect that needs to be considered in this context is whether there are
differences in learners concerning their attitude and acceptance towards game-based
learning, especially with respect to eventual gender differences. As computer games
in general are dominated by males, the question arises whether this fact is
immediately transferable to digital educational games. There are, at least, several
evidences on gender differences in computer games that are important to be known
and understood when aiming in advancing them as a novel approach to learning that
is likewise suitable for both groups of learners [3].
This paper elaborates gender aspects in the context of computer games towards a
gender-sensitive approach of designing games for educational purposes. This paper is
organized as follows: We first give an overview on the state of the art on gender
differences relevant and apparent in the scope of computer games. Based on this, the
implications on computer game design in general are discussed. As an attempt for
creating gender fair educational games, the issue of adaptation to gender-based
differences is taken up and an integrated framework for gender-based adaptation in
computer games is elaborated. Finally, a case study of an educational game on
geography is presented, translating the adaptation model and illustrating an example
of an approach to educational games and to learning game design that successfully
works for both sexes.
2 Computer Games and Gender Differences
General Attitude and Usage Patterns. Aside from differences that have been proven
for computer usage in general, such as that males are more confident and skilled in
handling computers [4], there is also particular evidence that males are specifically
more engaged leisure game players than females [5]. Despite the popularity of
computer games is rising in general, the majority of the medium's audience is still
male [6]. As a consequence of that generally greater popularity of computer games
amongst males, more males play and they play for longer periods [7, 8].
Personality Factors. Reasons accounting for a gender gap in playing computer
games that have been identified and that can be related to personality factors include
violence, lack of social interaction, and strong competitive elements in games [9].
Need for achievement refers to humans’ desire for accomplishment and
competence acquisition [10]. Males seem to have in general a higher need for
achievement in playing computer games. Basically, need for achievement can be
equated with challenge, which has also proven to be more important for males [3].
Research evidence led to the assumption of a stronger competition orientation in
males than in females and of females (although able to perform similarly) being less
effective in competitive situations [11]. Competitiveness as a trait can be explained by
three components – the motivation to win/compete, the need to win, and self-efficacy.
In a study on gender and computer games these factors turned out to be significantly
higher for males than for females, confirming females’ inferior competition
orientation in computer games [9].
Sensation seeking refers to the tendency to search for varied, novel, complex, and
intense sensations and experiences and to take risks for the sake of such sensations
[12]. Findings in gambling and sports have shown that males feature a more
distinctive need for sensation seeking than females do [13]. Sensation seeking is
directly related to arousal – high sensation seekers have a high optimum level of
arousal. Unsurprisingly, arousal, which has been identified as one of the most
important reasons for playing games, has also proven to be more important for males
than for females [14].
It has been shown that females in general have a low preference for observing or
taking part in violent conflicts and resolutions, show in their media genre preferences
in general less interest than males in violent entertainment and prefer non-violent
entertainment [15]. As most computer games involve to a large extent and
increasingly realistic violence and violent actions, it is not surprising that this is an
important factor of females’ dislike of games [9]. On the other hand, it has been
argued that violent games provide male adolescents with the opportunity of intensive
emotional arousal and thus explaining the appeal of those games to this audience [16].
In their interaction styles, females characteristically show pro social patterns.
Media research yielded that they value programs with a great extent of meaningful
dialogues and interaction. Most often, single-player games provide few possibilities
for social interaction and are rather action-oriented. This lack of social interaction is
an important reason for females disliking games [9]. Females clearly express a
preference for games that involve communication and human relationships [17].
Game Types. Males and females also characteristically differ in the type of games
they prefer to play. This is due to differing interests and preferences, which are argued
to be grounded already in infancy and socialization, but probably also because
computer games are mostly designed by males, therefore, including essentially
masculine characteristics, a high level of violence, and strong gender stereotypes [3].
While males have been found to prefer strategy, action, adventure, sports, and
simulation games, particularly with violent content [16, 18], females prefer puzzles,
board games, quizzes, role-playing, and adventure, as well as educational games [5, 7,
14]. The main theme of computer games preferred by boys is contest between good
and evil, competition, and winning, whereas girls favor storylines and exploration of
game characters’ personalities [17]. [18] underline, though, that in sum the types of
games that appear especially usable for learning – like strategy, adventure, and role-
playing games – are appealing for both, males and females.
Also game speed and time pressure must be considered. Action games (preferred
by male players) require dexterity and fast reaction, and usually a faster game play
than role-playing games (preferred by female players). There is also some evidence
that young girls prefer colorful, slowly changing screens in a multimedia learning
interface [19]. To sum up, females seem to prefer rather an unhurried game play,
whereas males opt for action and speed to get encouraged.
Reasons to Play. The reason or motivation to play computer games has also been
identified to differ between genders [9]. Existing games are referred to by females as
lacking meaningful social interaction and discouraging because of violence and
stereotyped gender roles of female game characters. Female players prefer the (para)-
social appeal of games, collaboration and community aspects to competitive elements
[20]. In the context of massively multiplayer online role playing games it has been
found that there are gender differences on the relevant motivational factors for
playing – whereas male players feature higher scores on the factors ‘achievement’ and
‘manipulation’, females indicate higher scores on ‘relationship’, ‘immersion’, and
‘escapism’ [21].
Skills. It could be shown that males have in general better computer skills and literacy
[4]. Research results on online skills have shown that although there are no great
gender differences in online abilities, females self-assess their skills significantly
lower than males – which in turn may affect their online and usage behavior [22].
Computer games commonly require cognitive and perceptual skills on which males
tend to perform better than females, such as spatial awareness and visualization [23].
It has also been pointed out that the gender-specific differences in cognitive abilities
fit well with the general gender-dependent preferences for different game-genres [24].
Interestingly, recent research results, however, have shown that the gender differences
on certain aspects of spatial cognition can be reduced through playing an action
computer game for a few hours [25]. Current learning games often involve and
require an integration of different skills to accomplish combinations of activities, and
are thus in general less likely to privilege one gender [3].
Game Characters and Avatar Preferences. It has been shown that female
characters are “underrepresented and proportionally more often sexualized to their
male counterparts” ([6], p. 103). Analyses of best-selling computer games have
shown that only a small percentage of game characters are female, and a large part of
them holds roles of rather bystanders than active participants [17]. Traditionally,
stereotypes and archaic role models are applied to portray female game characters
they are weak victims that need to be protected or rescued by powerful males and
their visual design exaggerates female sexuality [26]. This under- and
misrepresentation of game characters is one reason for the inferior attraction of
computer games to females – although at least a portion of women feel also ready to
accept such role stereotyping [9]. In general, females express strong preferences for
female game characters over male ones [27].
Gender differences have been researched on avatars, that is, the representations of
gamers in virtual or gaming environments. Most male gamers prefer male avatars,
while females prefer female avatars [28], which has also been demonstrated with
static avatars outside a game context [29]. Furthermore, it could be shown that males
want to have avatars that are powerful fighters, whereas females want to see good
fashioned and beautiful characters [28]. In general, players should have the chance to
select or create their favorite avatar [28, 29]. If female players have no possibility to
choose a female avatar they might feel discontent and, as a result, might feel as like
the game was not made for them and refuse to play the game [26].
3 Implications on Game Design
In conclusion, the large body of research on gender differences in the context of
computer games calls for an according consideration and reflection in game design
and development and for gender-neutral games. There is an emerging discussion and
awareness on implications for (educational) practice [17] and female-targeted game
design [26, 30]. This led to the evolution of games especially for a female target
audience. In the beginning of this development, games were launched that had been
designed relying on stereotypical interests of girls, such as fashion, horoscopes,
romance – resulting in so-called ‘pink software’ like the ‘Barbie Fashion Designer’.
This attempt to create special games for girls, however, did not always succeed [31].
Voices against marketing according to and reinforcing old stereotypes and opting for
the opportunity of using game technology instead to go a step further appeared [30].
‘Tomb Raider’ managed to overcome the traditional ‘princess to be saved’ portrayal
of a female character, with a capable and independent woman as main character. A
real success story was born with ‘The Sims’, a game that focuses on social interaction
between players and game characters and succeeded in attracting many female
Especially in the context of designing educational games a gender-sensitive
approach is strongly needed, as the new learning technologies need to be appropriate
for and accepted by all students and to ensure equal (learning) opportunities. Thus, in
addition to a gender inclusive game design, the approach of adapting the game to
gender-based differences appears highly suitable.
4 Gender-Based Adaptation
Instead of designing games that address predominantly one specific group of gamers
separately, to date hardly any effort has been made to create games that are equally
suited for different preferences and characteristics through the provision of
personalized game experiences. By arranging for a variety of differing game features,
components, and characteristics that are chosen in accordance to the individual player,
one single game could fit different learners.
Although the adaptation to current knowledge and competence is thoroughly being
researched and implemented through macro and micro level adaptive approaches in e-
learning and also in educational games [32, 33], current computer games – similar to
the majority of existing e-learning systems do not account for gender differences
through an according adaptation of the game, game features, story etc. Such an
adaptation to gender-based differences appears especially important and relevant for
educational games because of several reasons. When designing and developing an
educational game it should be appealing to all students. Even more important, as an
educational game aims in realizing a learning experience that is appropriately
embedded in narrative and game play, it is necessary to create optimal conditions for
this. This should involve, aside from an adaptation to the learner’s knowledge and
competence, also a gender-based adaptation, which should in consequence lead to
beneficial effects on motivation and learning performance.
4.1 An Integrated Model of Gender Aspects in Educational Computer Games
In an approach to elaborate a framework for the adaptation of an e-learning system to
individual abilities, preferences, and gender differences, the utilization of principles
and structures based on Knowledge Space Theory has been proposed [34]. Using the
framework of Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory [32, 35, 36], these
individual characteristics and gender specificities can be modeled and structured. It is
assumed that – following the notion of prerequisites – a prerequisite relation between
those factors can be established that captures the know-how derived from a large body
of research and empirical studies on the involved individual factors. This means, that
from the degree of one characteristic the degree of another one can be inferred. [34]
identified a model incorporating individual factors influencing learners’ choice of
using a computer for educational purposes [37] and related it to proven gender
differences in order to establish a learner structure modeling gender differences in
relation to those individual factors as a possible basis for adaptation of an e-learning
system. Through this approach the number of possible learner states (combinations of
individual factors) can be reduced to a meaningful range by establishing structural
assumptions based on the existing empirical research evidence in the domain.
Building upon this work and upon the thorough analysis on empirical evidence of
gender differences as presented in section 2, the different factors and aspects of
individuals and computer games have been analyzed and related to each other. The
resulting model is depicted in Figure 1. Based on the overview on gender aspects
presented before, it captures the central aspects of computer games on which gender
differences have been ascertained, as well as underlying latent constructs of cognition
and personality. These underlying constructs, in turn, feature characteristic gender
differences and at least partly explain and account for the gender gap in the different
game aspects. The model can be understood as a Bayesian Net model with the nodes
representing probability variables1 and the arrows representing conditional
dependencies representing relationships and influences among the variables [34, 37].
The diverging preferences of males and females for certain game types, for example,
can be explained by considering gender differences in competition orientation,
sensation seeking, and interaction preferences. The same factors can be assumed to
influence also the reason or motivation to play, which in turn will be influencing the
preferences on game types and, supposingly, also usage patterns. The frequency and
duration of playing computer games furthermore might be influenced and might
influence computer and spatial skills.
This framework can be further enriched based on the model established and
capturing gender-based differences and individual factors for user modeling and
adaptation in educational hypermedia [34, 37]. To this end, factors captured by those
models that appear relevant in the context of educational games are taken up (see
Figure 1), thus bringing in an additional factor ‘visual design’ in the model. Research
evidence in the field of visual design of web-based learning and web pages has shown
that females seem to prefer clearer, undistracting background design and are more
attracted by colors, while males tend to prefer a more complex design and are
attracted by graphics, animations, and interactive aspects [38, 39]. One possible
1 Variables representing the ‘inner state’ of an individual regarding different characteristics.
explanation for such findings are gender differences in processing visual displays [23,
38]. The component ‘causal attributions’ relates to the causal explanations for success
or failure, for which systematic gender differences have been identified. While males
tend significantly more likely to explain success as due to their ability, females tend to
attribute the cause of failure more likely to themselves than males [40, 41]. These
attribution biases are directly related to the self-efficacy beliefs of individuals, which
have been proven to be higher for males in the context of computer games and
working with computers [9, 41]. Dysfunctional attributional styles in females appear
also in other domains [42] and are associated with maladaptive behavior which may
eventually lead to giving up earlier and to avoidance [42, 43]. Furthermore, the
variables ‘expectation’ and ‘value’ adapted from [37] may serve for explaining usage
patterns on computer games. While in accordance with the model ‘computer literacy’,
and in the present context, also ‘reasons to play’ can be assumed to influence the
perceived value of playing computer games, the expectations of successfully playing
a computer game will be influenced by self-efficacy beliefs. Both, expectations and
value of playing computer games will consequently be determining factors of actually
choosing to play an educational computer game [41].
In sum, the established model provides useful information about a player for the
purpose of adaptation by making (preliminary) assumptions on user characteristics
(i.e., the user model) based on well-established research findings without explicit
assessment. Hereby, broad overgeneralizations are avoided; rather the model serves
the assumption of reasonable tendencies on user variables. This is especially valuable
as in the context of a game there is only limited possibility for explicitly querying lots
of things.
Fig. 1. Model on gender aspects relevant for educational computer games.
4.2 Educational Game Design for Gender-Based Adaptation: A Case Study
In the following, implications for gender-based adaptation that can be derived from
the model and an according design shall be illustrated by means of a case study game
design - the demonstrator game of 80Days ( 80Days is a
European research project aiming in advancing psycho-pedagogical and technological
foundations for successful digital educational games through the development of a
higher-level theoretical framework for adaptive educational technology. This shall
allow an adaptation of a game’s story and features to individual learners’ abilities and
preferences. An educational game is being developed, aiming in a new learning
technology that is equally suitable for both, male and female learners. For this, a game
genre that has been proven to be suitable and accepted by both groups of learners has
been chosen and adaptation principles relying on the presented model on gender
aspects have nurtured game design.
Inspired by Jule Verne’s novel ‘Around the world in eighty days’ the game is a
modern version of a journey around the world – in a UFO with an alien travel
companion. From an educational perspective, the game’s main objective is to teach
geography skills. From a storytelling perspective, the main task for the player is to
explore the planet and collect information for an intergalactic travel guide. From the
game play perspective, the main goal is to navigate the UFO to different destinations
around the world and to accomplish a variety of adventurous missions.
In the beginning of the game user characteristics are queried (sex, age, computer
game experience and preferences, sensation seeking) which coincide to a large extent
with variables covered by our model. The preliminary assumptions on user
characteristics (as based on the model) can be verified and adjusted based on the
information gathered in the game’s intro screen and are later on continuously updated
and refined based on the gamer’s behavior and interactions during and with the game.
The evolving user model serves for adapting the game to the individual player. The
game as such foresees a comprehensive adaptation of story elements and learning
content to a learner’s current skills and needs, as well as to preferences and
motivational states. In the following, we want to confine our descriptions to only the
implications for gender-based adaptation, as they can be drawn from the model
presented in this paper (see Figure 3 for an overview). These adaptation mechanisms
build upon the supposed dependencies and influences among the variables as derived
from the literature and mirrored by the model.
The visual design of the educational game can be adapted in order to meet
individual preferences and needs. Females should be provided with a clearer,
somewhat simpler visual design, while males should be provided with more complex,
animated visual design elements [38, 39]. This would also accommodate an
adaptation to spatial ability [23], as well as to the level of experience with games
(computer literacy, [4]). In the 80Days game design this aspect of adaptation is
implemented in the visual design of the UFO cockpit and head-up-display (HUD),
with information displays that can be activated and deactivated (see Figure 2).
Fig. 2. Sketches of different HUD versions in the 80Days game.
Adaptation to competition orientation [9, 11] should occur through realizing
differing levels of competition in the game in terms of combatants represented by
other players or non-player characters. In case of the 80Days game this aspect can be
realized through adapting the number of competing UFOs.
Adaptation to attribution bias and self-efficacy [9, 40, 41, 43] should be realized by
a motivational/attributional training through feedback mechanisms that guide
learner’s perception on causal attribution of success and failure with the aim of
increasing motivation and self-worth [42]. In case of high self-efficacy, an individual
can be guided towards (more) realistic attributions. And in case of low self-efficacy a
training of more realistic and self-confident feedback should be realized, such that
successful experiences become more explicit and engaging and help fostering
expectation of success. In 80Days this aspect of adaptation is captured by adaptive
motivational interventions during the game given by a non-player character.
Adaptation to sensation seeking [13, 14] can be realized through differing levels of
game speed in a game and differing levels of risk or adventure. This most probably
needs to be accompanied by an according adaptation of the game story, aligning the
level of time pressure and risk and adventure to be taken to each other. The 80Days
game realizes a three-mode story pacing with different speed levels – one relaxed
version without time pressure, one more driven version with time pressure, and one
fast and hectic version with explicit time limits.
Adaptation to interaction preferences [9, 17] can be done through realizing
differing degrees and options for interaction in the game. This can be taken up in
80Days by realizing different extents of dialogues and interaction possibilities
between the player and non-player characters, or respectively, other players.
male female
visual design
preferences usage patterns reason to play game type
interaction style/
motivation need to win self-efficacy
risk level
Fig. 3. Model on gender aspects and design implications (dashed arrows) for gender-based
adaptation in educational computer games.
Adaptation to avatar preferences [28, 29] can be done through automatic provision
of avatars corresponding to known preferences of genders in this regard.
Alternatively, a set of different avatars can be provided to the player to choose from it
(as an aspect of adaptability through the player). In the 80Days game this aspect is
planned to be taken into account by the adaptive selection between two avatars, a boy
and a girl.
5 Conclusion
Gender differences relevant in the context of (educational) computer games have been
observed with respect to several aspects. Many of them add up or contribute to the
fact that the game sector is dominated by males and girls and women are less involved
in games than boys. Recently, however, there seems to be at least a trend of increased
involvement of females. Aside from the emergence of female subcultures feeling
prepared and willing to adopt contemporary computer games designed for males [9],
this development reflects the increasing consciousness on gender specificities and
gender sensitivity in the game sector, thus leading to the advent of games appealing
and engaging female players.
With the adaptation of computer games to gender-specific characteristics and
preferences on a within-game level, this development can be further enhanced. This
aspect of adaptation seems especially suited and necessary in the context of
educational games, where one learning technology should supply all students with
equal opportunities and chances for learning. Through gender-specific adaptation of
computer games the implicit classification in typically male or female oriented
computer games could be overcome and progress towards the development of games
that appeal both, male and female players, could be made. In this paper we presented
a framework for gender-based adaptation, integrating research on gender aspects that
are relevant for (educational) computer games.
The involvement of male and female members of the target audience in both, the
design and evaluation process of a digital educational game (i.e. participatory design,
[44]) allows the identification of significant gender-related preferences for a given
purpose (target age, subject matter etc.). This ensures acceptability of design and the
implementation of relevant adaptation aspects, thus contributing to learners’
engagement and successful learning throughout the game.
The realization of gender-based adaptation is not only assumed to have enhancing
effects on students’ motivation and learning performance, but also opens ways to
(cost) effective game development. Gender-based adaptation can be regarded as a step
further when aiming in methodologies for more cost-effective development of
(educational) computer games through the realization of one game appropriate for
both genders instead of different games for males and females, by efficiently (re)using
game assets and resources.
Acknowledgments. The research and development introduced in this work is funded
by the European Commission under the seventh framework programme in the ICT
research priority, contract number 215918 (80Days,
1. Prensky, M.: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9, 1--2 (2001)
2. Kickmeier-Rust, M.D., Peirce, N., Conlan, O., Schwarz, D., Verpoorten, D., Albert, D.:
Immersive Digital Games: The Interfaces for Next-Generation E-Learning? In: Stephanidis,
C. (ed.) HCI International 2007. LNCS, vol. 4556, pp. 647--656. Springer, Berlin (2007)
3. Boyle, E., Conolly, T.: Games for Learning: Does Gender Make a Difference? In: Conolly,
T., Stansfield, M. (eds.) Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Games Based
Learning, pp. 69--75. Academic Publishing Limited, Reading (2008)
4. Bonanno, P., Kommers, P.A.M.: Exploring the Influence of Gender and Gaming
Competence on Attitudes towards Instructional Games. British Journal of Educational
Technology, 39, 97--109 (2008)
5. Gorriz, C.M., Medina, M.: Engaging Girls with Computers through Software Games.
Communications of the ACM, 43, 42--49 (2002)
6. Ivory, J.D.: Still a Man’s Game: Gender Representation in Online Reviews of Video
Games. Mass Communication & Society, 9, 103--114 (2006)
7. Bonanno, P., Kommers, P.A.M.: Gender Differences and Styles in the Use of Digital
Games. Educational Psychology, 25, 13--41 (2005)
8. Phillips, C.A., Rolls, S., Rouse, A., Griffiths, M.D.: Home Video Game Playing in
Schoolchildren: A Study of Incidence and Patterns of Play. Journal of Adolescence, 18,
687--691 (1995)
9. Hartmann, T., Klimmt, C.: Gender and Computer Games: Exploring Females’ Dislikes.
Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 11, 910--931 (2006)
10. McClelland, D.C.: Methods of Measuring Human Motivation. In: Atkinson, J.W. (ed.) The
Achieving Society, pp. 41--43. D. Van Nostrand, Princeton (1961)
11. Gneezy, U., Niederle, M., Rustichini, A.: Performance in Competitive Environments:
Gender Differences. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118, 1049--1074 (2003)
12. Zuckerman, M.: Sensation Seeking: Beyond the Optimal Level of Arousal. Erlbaum,
Hillsdale (1979)
13. Arnett, J.J.: Sensation Seeking, Aggressiveness, and Adolescent Reckless Behavior.
Personality and Individual Differences, 20, 693--702 (1996)
14. Lucas, K., Sherry, J.L.: Sex Differences in Video Game Play: A Communication-Based
Explanation. Communication Research, 31, 499--523 (2004)
15. Slater, M.D.: Alienation, Aggression, and Sensation Seeking as Predictor of Adolescent
Use of Violent Film, Computer, and Website Content. Journal of Communication, 53, 105--
121 (2003)
16. Jansz, J.: The Emotional Appeal of Violent Video Games for Adolescent Males.
Communication Theory, 15, 219--241 (2005)
17. Agosto, D.: Girls and Gaming: A Summary of the Research with Implications for Practice.
Teacher Librarian, 31, 8--14 (2004)
18. Connolly, T.M., Boyle, E.A., Stansfield, M.H., Hainey, T.: A Survey of Students’
Computer Game Playing Habits. International Journal for Advanced Technology for
Learning, 4 (2007)
19. Passig, D., Levin, H.: Gender Interest Differences with Multimedia Learning Interfaces.
Computers in Human Behavior, 15, 173--183 (1999)
20. Dickey, M.D.: Girl Gamers: The Controversy of Girl Games and the Relevance of Female-
Oriented Game Design for Instructional Design. British Journal of Educational Technology,
37, 785--793 (2006)
21. Yee, N.: The Demographics, Motivations, and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively
Multi-user Online Graphical Environments. Presence, 15, 309--329 (2006)
22. Hargittai, E., Shafer, S.: Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of
Gender. Social Science Quarterly, 87, 432--448 (2006)
23. Halpern, D.F.: Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
Hillsdale (1992)
24. Sherry, J.L.: Flow and Media Enjoyment. Communication Theory, 14, 328--347 (2004)
25. Feng, J., Spence, I., Pratt, J.: Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Differences
in Spatial Cognition. Psychological Science, 18, 850--855 (2007)
26. Graner Ray, S.: Gender Inclusive Game Design. Charles River Media Inc., Hingham (2004)
27. De Jean, J., Upitis, R., Koch, C., Young, J.: The Story of Phoenix Quest: How Girls
Respond to a Prototype Language and Mathematics Computer Game. Gender and
Education, 11, 207--223 (1999)
28. Inal, Y., Sancar, H., Cagiltay, K.: Children’s Avatar Preferences and their Personalities. In:
Crawford, C. et al. (eds.) Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher
Education International Conference 2006, pp. 4259--4266. AACE, Chesapeake (2006)
29. Nowak, K.L., Rauh, C.: The Influence of the Avatar on Online Perceptions of
Anthropomorphism, Androgyny, Credibility, Homophily, and Attraction. Journal of
Computer-Mediated Communication, 11. (2005)
30. Cassell, J.: Genderizing HCI. In: Jacko, J., Sears, A. (eds.) The Handbook of Human-
Computer Interaction, pp. 402--411. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah (2002)
31. Laurel, B.: Utopian Entrepreneur. MIT Press, Cambridge (2001)
32. Heller, J., Steiner, C., Hockemeyer, C., Albert, D.: Competence-Based Knowledge
Structures for Personalised Learning. International Journal on E-Learning, 5, 75--88 (2006)
33. Kickmeier-Rust, M.D., Hockemeyer, C., Albert, D., Augustin, T.: Micro Adaptive, Non-
invasive Assessment in Educational Games. In: Eisenberg, M., Kinshuk, Chang, M.,
McGreal, R. (eds.) Proceedings of the second IEEE International Conference on Digital
Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning, pp. 135--138, Banff (2008)
34. Kickmeier-Rust, M.D., Albert, D., Roth, R.: A Methodological Approach to Address
Individual Factors and Gender Differences in Adaptive eLearning. In: Siebenhandl, K.,
Wagner, M., Zauchner, S. (eds.) Gender in E-Learning and Educational Games: A Reader,
pp. 71--84. Studienverlag, Innsbruck (2007)
35. Albert, D., Lukas, J. (eds.): Knowledge Spaces: Theories, Empirical Research, and
Applications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah (1999)
36. Doignon, J.-P., Falmagne, J.-C.: Knowledge Spaces. Springer, Berlin (1999)
37. Melis, E. & Ulrich, C.: Gender-Biased Adaptations in Educational Adaptive Hypermedia.
In Neijdl, W., De Bra, P. (eds.) AH 2004. LNCS, vol. 3137, pp. 425--428. Springer, Berlin
38. Hall, R.H., Hickman, L.L.: Imagic and Textual Components of Web Page Design: The Role
of Gender in Subjective Ratings. Virtual University Journal, 2. (1999)
39. Cyr, D., Bonnani, C.: Gender and Website Design in E-business. International Journal of
Electronic Business, 3, 565--582 (2005)
40. Deaux, K., Farris, E.: Attributing Causes for One’s Own Performance: The Effects of Sex,
Norms, and Outcome. Journal of Research in Personality, 11, 59—72 (1976)
41. Dickhäuser, O., Stiensmeier-Pelster, J.: Gender Differences in the Choice of Computer
Courses: Applying an Expectancy-Value Model. Social Psychology of Education, 6, 173--
189 (2003)
42. Ziegler, A., Stoeger, H.: Evaluation of an Attributional Retraining (Modelling Technique)
to Reduce Gender Differences in Chemistry Instruction. High Ability Studies, 15, 63--83
43. Dweck, C.S.: Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development.
Psychology Press, Philadelphia (1999)
44. Danielsson, K., Wiberg, C.: Paricipatory Design of Learning Media: Designing Educational
Computer Games with and for Teenagers. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 3,
275--291 (2006)
... Progressively challenging levels Saleem et al. (2021); Steiner et al. (2009) The game featured three levels-1) a basic tower, 2) a water tower, and 3) a bridge strong enough to support a train-that progressed in difficulty. ...
... Clear, immediate feedback and instructions for each level Steiner et al. (2009) The game provided users with immediate and detailed feedback on their performance. The feedback included rewards, points earned, and detailed explanations. ...
... Along with gender portrayal, gender aspect in game design also needs to be included, Stefansdottir and Gislason (2008) defines design process as placing and patterning of any act towards a desired goal and emphasizes on the inclusion of gender aspect in design innovation processes. Furthermore, Erb (2009) andSteiner et al. (2009) highlights the significance of the inclusion of gender-sensitive approach for designing educational games to ensure equal opportunities for learning for both genders. In this context, Steiner et al. (2009) presents a model that include factors (i.e. a reason to play, competition orientation, preferences, etc.) for the consideration of gender aspects in educational video game designs. ...
... Furthermore, Erb (2009) andSteiner et al. (2009) highlights the significance of the inclusion of gender-sensitive approach for designing educational games to ensure equal opportunities for learning for both genders. In this context, Steiner et al. (2009) presents a model that include factors (i.e. a reason to play, competition orientation, preferences, etc.) for the consideration of gender aspects in educational video game designs. Gender studies are crucial to detect and understand the factors that can narrow gender bias and contribute to gender equality. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Ensuring gender equality in game design is important for creating equal opportunities for fun. This paper presents an investigation into which factors contribute to the gender-neutral game design. Goblin Dice has been examined by both male and female participants. The tested game has a racing theme and does not include either a soldier or a princess as the main character which is stereotyped to be more associated with either group of participants. The participants were asked to predict the rules of the game in a specified time without the rule book. The analysis of participants performance shows that the majority of the game's design was equally intuitive for both genders. While differences in the perception of male and female participants were observed towards the same object, females seeing it as cooperative , and males seeing it as a competitive aspect. Hence, gender bias in perceptions exists in games without explicit gender-based themes.
... Nevertheless, it is still difficult to assess the relationship between serious games and the educational models able to empower the learning processes of patients-learners as players. Furthermore, a critical aspect that needs to be considered in this context is whether there are differences in patients-learners concerning their attitude and acceptance towards game-based learning, especially considering gender differences (Steiner et al. 2009). As males in general dominate digital games, the question arises whether this is immediately transferable to educational games (Bonanno and Kommers 2005;Ivory 2006) and to serious games for health as well. ...
... Furthermore, we also expected that there were gender-related impacts on the linkages among the variables of the model (H3). These hypotheses are strictly linked to the idea that the new educational technologies need to be appropriate and accepted for all users, in order to ensure equal learning opportunities; then, serious games for health have to be designed and developed to meet people's health and assistance needs at an inclusive level (Graner Ray 2004;Steiner et al. 2009). Figure 1 gives an overview of the empirical model hypothesized. ...
Full-text available
Based on behavioral science assumptions, the main purpose of this study is to validate a theoretical model of the relationship between serious game play, patient empowerment and health-related behaviors. We first hypothesized that serious games for health enhanced patients’ empowerment-related education; second, we expected that gender may influence such an educational model. To test our hypotheses, 124 Italian young diabetics (Mean age = 14.12 years old, SD = 2.14; 59.67% female) were involved in the research study named “Tako Dojo”. After participating to a training session about the use of the serious game for diabetes, they filled in a questionnaire that included several scales of game experience, patient empowerment and adherence-related behaviors. Multiple regression analysis partially confirmed our hypotheses. First, it pointed out that serious game for health directly supported the patients’ empowerment and their therapeutic adherence indirectly. Then, it showed that patients’ gender influenced the game-based patient empowerment. To conclude, some relevant theoretical issues concerning the game-based patient education and practical implications about the game design in the healthcare contexts were highlighted.
... To ensure equality of opportunity in education, new learning technologies must be suitable for everyone. Therefore, gender-related differences in DGBL environments should be revealed (Steiner et al., 2009). Considering the effect of gender on academic achievement in DGBL, Soflano et al. (2015) concluded that male students displayed higher learning performance in DGBL environments. ...
Full-text available
Since the effectiveness of pedagogies relies heavily on the context they are practiced, scholars strive to revalidate them with different participants representing different disciplines, age, cultures and so on. In this regard, this piece of work was undertaken so as to reveal the impact of a digital game-based learning environment on the achievement of secondary school participants in the topic of Internet literacy in Turkey. To this end, a three dimensional multi-user digital game-based learning environment through Active Worlds game engine was created. The static-group pre-test post-test design was adopted. We recruited 266 students attending 10th-grade at a public high school. The participants were block-randomized to the groups. The control group partook in a lecture-based learning environment for two weeks, whereas the experimental group learned with a digital game-based learning environment. The results ascertained that even though there were significant learning gains in control as well as experimental groups, no substantial significant difference was observed in the achievement across the groups. The results illustrated that the interaction of method and gender had no influence on the achievement. Particularities of the context of the study causing the results and study’s far-reaching implications were discussed.
... El GBL, en términos sencillos, se entiende como el uso de juegos (y su diseño) en ambientes y con intencionalidades educativas. Steiner et al. (2009) manifiestan en su artículo que la idea central del aprendizaje basado en juegos es utilizar al menos parte del tiempo que las personas dedican a los juegos de computadora para propósitos educativos. Por su parte, Kapp (2012) indica que el GBL facilita el aprendizaje por asentarse sobre el juego: el proceso se sigue más fácilmente mientras se asimilan los conceptos, ya que el juego crea un entorno virtual que recrea situaciones propias de la realidad (simuladores) y de esta forma los usuarios (alumnos) aprenden a desenvolverse en un contexto sin riesgo, pero con normas, interactividad y realimentación. ...
La tecnología en las aulas ha generado cambios de paradigma y nuevos entornos de aprendizaje. Particularmente los juegos logran captar la atención de los usuarios, generar compromiso y mejores resultados de aprendizaje. El objetivo de este artículo es presentar una revisión sistemática sobre el aprendizaje basado en juegos, aplicado a la enseñanza de las matemáticas en la educación superior. Se utilizó una metodología de revisión de registros a partir de cinco índices bibliográficos y bases de datos, se realizó el análisis bibliométrico correspondiente, la evaluación de calidad y la generación de conclusiones. Los resultados muestran 19 registros que abordan diferentes mediaciones y que se orientan al desarrollo cognitivo, emocional, afectivo, de habilidades blandas y comportamentales. Estos hallazgos permiten a los investigadores interesados en el tema y a las instituciones educativas analizar la relevancia y los aportes positivos de los juegos (digitales o no digitales) en los procesos de enseñanza-aprendizaje.
Prompted by findings of gender differences in learning game preferences and outcomes, education researchers have proposed adapting games by gender to foster learning and engagement. However, such recommendations typically rely on intuition, rather than empirical data, and are rooted in a binary representation of gender. On the other hand, recent evidence from several disciplines indicates that gender is best understood through multiple dimensions, including gender-typed occupational interests, activities, and traits. Our research seeks to provide learning game designers with empirical guidance incorporating this framework in developing digital learning games that are inclusive, equitable, and effective for all students. To this end, we conducted a survey study among 333 5th and 6th grade students in five urban and suburban schools in a mid-sized U.S. city, with the goal of investigating how game preferences differ by gender identity or gender-typed measures. Our findings uncovered consistent differences in game preferences from both a binary and multi-dimensional gender perspective, with gender-typed measures being more predictive of game preferences than binary gender identity. We also report on preference trends for different game genres and discuss their implications on learning game design. Ultimately, this work supports using multiple dimensions of gender to inform the customization of learning games that meet individual students’ interests and preferences, instead of relying on vague gender stereotypes.Keywordsdigital learning gamesgender studiesgame preferencessurvey study
Full-text available
There is an established gender gap in middle school math education, where female students report higher anxiety and lower engagement, which negatively impact their performance and even long-term career choices. This work investigates the role of digital learning games in addressing this issue by studying Decimal Point, a math game that teaches decimal numbers and operations to 5th and 6th graders. Through data from four published studies of Decimal Point, involving 624 students in total, the authors identified a consistent gender difference that was replicated across all studies – male students tended to do better at pretest, while female students tended to learn more from the game. In addition, female students were more careful in answering self-explanation questions, which significantly mediated the relationship between gender and learning gains in two out of four studies. These findings show that learning games can be an effective tool for bridging the gender gap in middle school math education, which in turn contributes to the development of more personalized and inclusive learning platforms.
This article deals with popular history magazines as a product of commercial mass media, which present history with a claim of ‘edutainment’. So far, this subject matter has received hardly any attention from historical-didactic research. The article focuses on the impact of the ‘edutainment’ concept on the selection and the presentation of the historical topics and the preferential ways of mediation, which leads to the question of the historical-didactic quality of the presentation of history in the magazines. Referring to the results of the EU-EHISTO project, the article discusses the magazine’s significance for a critical media education within history classes.
Full-text available
Despite the rising popularity of video games, the majority of the medium's audience continues to be male. One reason may be that character representations in video games are geared toward male players. This content analysis used video game re- views from a heavily trafficked Internet site to investigate the prevalence and por- trayal of male and female video game characters. Consistent with the findings of previous studies, female characters were found to be underrepresented and propor- tionally more often sexualized in comparison to their male counterparts. In addition to these findings, the study's innovative method—the use of online video game re- views as an indirect measure of video game content—shows promise as a tool for fu- ture content analyses of video games.
Full-text available
In this study, we examined gender differences in video game use by focusing on interpersonal needs for inclusion, affection, and control, as well as socially constructed perceptions of gendered game play. Results of a large-scale survey (n = 534) of young adults’ reasons for video game use, preferred game genres, and amount of game play are reported. Female respondents report less frequent play, less motivation to play in social situations, and less orientation to game genres featuring competition and three-dimensional rotation. Implications for game design are discussed.
Media enjoyment is theorized by synthesizing empirical literature from uses and gratifications with Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory. This article argues that enjoyment of media results from a flow experience realized when media message content balances with individual ability to interpret that message. Further, it theorizes that media experience, along with individual differences in cognitive abilities, facilitates or prevents flow state in media users. Therefore, it is a balance between individual differences in cognitive abilities and media message challenges that explains enjoyment of media use. The authors offer the case of video game usage as an exemplar, and examples of cognitive tasks are provided and linked to game genre content.
Developing educational computer games that will appeal to both males and females adds an additional level of complexity to an already complicated process. Schools and universities need to be inclusive and new learning methods and materials should aim to be gender neutral. Traditional computer games are more popular with males than females, although the use of some simple guidelines in developing games for learning should reduce this preference. However females have a more careful and committed approach to learning and may be more willing to try out new methods of learning including computer games. These opposing influences make it difficult to predict how gender will impact on the acceptance of games for learning. There is some evidence that both males and females enjoy the kinds of games that have most potential for learning. The impact of new computer games for learning needs to be evaluated to ensure that they facilitate learning without disadvantaging one gender over the other.
The saga of Purple Moon is not simply a business narrative of economic success or failure. It is the story of how a group of writers, designers, programmers, artists, and marketeers got funding from a Microsoft billionaire to become culture workers. Purple Moon was the crucible that forged my new outlook on the responsibilities of creative individuals to their cultures. It made me think that in the twenty-first century, design innovators must also become economic innovators; that a “new economy” that doesn’t confront issues of politics and ethics is as “old” as child labor and poorhouses; that we can do better than always placing public benefit in opposition to private gain.
This article describes a case study of six girls' experiences with the Phoenix Quest computer game. In addition Io the case study, a supplementary large-scale study of the reactions of both boys and girls to the same computer game was conducted for comparative analysis. Phoenix Quest (PQ) was designed not only to encourage children to explore language and mathematics, but also to offer game features that would especially appeal to girls. Participants in the case study were given opportunities to become acquainted with PQ for several months before being observed and interviewed. Four issues that emerged as being important to the participants were (a) presentation of the story in a non-linear formal, (b) appreciation for the problem-solving elements of PQ (c) identification with the main character (female), and (d) lack of awareness of the mathematics embedded within the game. The findings provided evidence that PQ appealed to girls because the protagonist was of their age and gender, and because the puzzles and searches were engaging throughout the game. Some aspects of the game, however, were less successful; for instance, the non-linear story formal was disconcerting to all but one of the participants, and only one student identified the mathematics in the game structure. The large-scale study involved 41 boys and 57 girls, aged 8-12, from four junior school classes (Grades 4, 5 and 6). The aggregate data collected showed that more girls than boys used the postcard-writing feature of PQ, and appreciated following the adventures of a female protagonist. More boys than girls were reported to offer advice to other students, discuss the game during their free time, and observe others playing the game. Some boys even formed groups to exchange information and game-playing strategies. Also, more boys than girls recognised the mathematics embedded within the game. Although these studies did not focus on teacher-student interaction, the finding that more than 25% of participating students were not able to identify the mathematics embedded in PQ, supports supplementary instruction on the part of a teacher as a requirement for making the mathematics more salient. Further research to address this issue is strongly recommended. Both the case study and the large-scale study revealed that among computer games, PQ's uncommon approach of celebrating and challenging a female protagonist is important to girls. This does not suggest that the presentation of a female protagonist will discourage boys from playing and enjoying the game. On the contrary, our findings showed that boys were also engaged by PQ, a game that encourages cooperative play and group problem-solving. In the realm of computer games, gender identification plays a key role, in first capturing the attention of girls, and then sustaining their interest, enjoyment and participation.