A Few Misconceptions
Because people see fewer girls playing hard-core games than boys, they have tended to jump to conclusions about what girls want.
- Girls don’t like computer games because computers are techie. This is patently false. Although most girls and women generally are less fascinated by the technical details of computers than boys and men are, that doesn’t discourage them from playing computer games any more than automotive specifications discourage them from driving cars.
- Girls don’t like violence. No, what girls don’t like is nonstop, meaningless violence. It’s not so much that they’re repulsed by it as that they’re bored by it. It doesn’t stimulate their imaginations. If you’ve seen one explosion, you’ve seen them all.
- Girls want everything to be happy and sweet. Not true. Ever see a group of girls setting up a party and planning to exclude someone? Girls are perfectly capable of being deliberately hurtful. If you read books written specifically for girls, you’ll see that they’re not just saccharine from one end to the other. Girls like stories filled with mystery, suspense, even danger—but again, it has to be meaningful, not just random or pointless.
- Girls don’t like to be scared. This is only partially true. Jesyca Durchin makes a useful distinction between spooky and scary. Girls like things that are spooky but not scary. The abandoned house that contains a clue to the mystery, or the carnival at night, are spooky. Walking through dark streets with a murderer on the loose is scary. Spooky is about the possibility of being startled or frightened; scary is about the possibility of being hurt or killed.
ZA Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design
What Girls Like to Do in Games
- Girls tend to enjoy games that allow for open-ended play and exploration that does not necessarily require completion of one goal or level to get to the next
- Girls prefer games with puzzles or mysteries over games that involve physical accuracy and acuity.
- Girls would rather spend their time creating things instead of destroying things.
- Girls enjoy everyday life activities and metaphors just as much if not more than fantasy adventures.
- Girls may be less comfortable than boys about just jumping in and exploring a game to learn how to do things; they may do better with more explicit mentoring and instruction at the beginning of a game
ZA Better Game Characters by Design Katherine Isbister