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Before you get to excited let me clarify. This is not a review of Mel Gibson’s 2000 film. Nor is it my pitch for the sequel, What Men Want, because I quickly realized the answer was “Boobs”, and didn’t really think that could be stretched to feature length. It’s also not my editorial on what makes a successful husband, though as a psychologist I’ve thought about doing just that. No this is my quest to answer one of the great mysteries of the 21st century. What do women want in a video game? This is up there with who shot JFK, and why Reggis Philbon has a career, for the great questions of life. So I thought I’d give it a go.

I’m married to an abnormal woman. My wife has a level 70 dwarf paladin, in World of Warcraft, as well as several other characters that are approaching that mark. She has a binder full of old PC games that she brought into the relationship. And she hopped up and down with joy a few years ago when we found a re release of both the Kings Quest, and Space Quest series. She was also overjoyed this week when she was finally able to play Spore. I’m not saying this to brag, much, but to give a bit of background on my perspective. I’m married to a gamer, but few others are. I wonder why that is?

Historically girls of our generation were not encouraged to play video games. They have always been viewed by the masses, along with comic books, as the realm of “over and under weight guys who don’t get laid”. Also basic concepts of children at play do not necessarily lend themselves toward girl gamers. Young boys are often taught to play games that involve “beating” someone or something, or at the very least all of our play involves a winner and a looser. While girls are traditionally taught to play games more for the play rather than the conquest. Things like playing house, or dress up, let them experience the positive aspects of play, without the structured results.

I asked my wife what she thinks it is about games that do not appeal to most women. Her main idea for why girls don’t like in games is that they don’t like to die. If you think about the games that have traditionally been played by the ladies, both of them (Tetris and The Sims), they follow the historic trend of girls at play, and allow you to not really die.

So I guess the point of this is that I want to know what the women out there think. Several of our readers are females, and most of the men are married to females. I want to know what they think. We’ve all know girls, or been involved with girls, who almost on principal hate video games. So I want to know why. I don’t plan on posting any attempts to contradict their ideas, so feel free to vent if there is a particular thing you hate. I’m just curious. So women readers let me know what you think about your gender. And Male readers ask your misses or some other woman in your life, and let me know. Ask them two questions:

1. What do you like, or dislike, most in a game?

2. What would you most like to see in a game?

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  • zohner

    I blame the female dislike for games on their mothers.  Plain and simple.  My wife will occasionally play a game but she tends to lean twoards the electronic version of board games, i.e. Settlers of Catan or Monopoly.  One of her sisters vehemently dislikes games.  They have the same mother.   My point is made.  

    On a side note, the sister that hates games, also hates me as I am a bad influence with my geeky tendencies like watching The Simpsons or reading comic books.  She also used to suffer from a lack of dopamine in her brain.  She was railing on the evils of gaming one night when I mentioned a recent study that showed that gamers don’t need to sleep as much as “normal” people because the act of playing video games increases dopamine levels in the brain.  Can you say p0wnd?  I felt much satisfaction at her speechlessness. 

  • That would explain why I can stay up longer while gaming that I can when, say, watching TV or reading.  How interesting.

    I personally think that most women don’t like gaming because they think too much.  I’m not saying gamer girls don’t think or that men are stupid, but it’s a generally accepted fact that women are constantly thinking and evaluating, much more so than men.  I typically find that women will watch games and start picking them apart (“That doesn’t make sense, why did he do that instead of this, etc etc etc”).  Men, on the other hand will happily throw all reality out the window so long as it’s entertaining.  I believe that women who do game have simply caught on that you can enjoy something simply for the sake of having fun and it not making any sense.
  • Halley

    I grew up playing D&D, going to SCA events and becoming a key member of several different fantasy conventions and ren faires. Does that make me an abnormal female? I have (g’d forgive me) LARPed and done all sorts of unforgivable geeky things in my life time. That being said, games that I think that chicks dig more are things like the Sims, first of all. Women in general like to micromanage. The Sims are perfect for that. Also, all those really cheesy time-management games that you find on Yahoo Games, etc. Like Jane’s Hotel and such. Girls like that. Also, in my experience with females in the gaming world, they tend to like a little more substance, which is why I have noticed that RPGs like Fable, Morrowind, Baldur’s Gate, Dungeon Siege and the like are more popular. (I used to work in the software dept of an electronics store, which shall not be named.) And now, I am noticing that with the online world, there can be a combination of the Sims and the RPGs. I think that may be the reason there is a flux of chicks getting involved with WOW and such. I, however, am broke and am still pissed off about when Star Wars Galaxies changed their layout so haven’t played anything besides Star Craft since. . .

  • You can name it; they went out of business!

  • Lacey

    I don’t think of myself as a gamer but I do like to play now and then.  I however enjoy the more simple games just because I can play them for awhile and then get on with my day.  I don’t have time to sit there and try and finish a whole game.  I want to take 20 minutes and play something really easy and have fun.  I think a big part of it is that I have so much to do and so much going on in my head that I dont’ want to have to devote all my brain power to a game.  I need game that requires only a couple of brain cells so the rest can continue to think about other things that need figuring out or whatever.   So hence an old time favorite is of course tetris…my new favorite is Peggle.  I also like games that I can play with my friends.  Here is where I like racing games and fighting games.  I don’t however spend any time practicing or getting good at all the different people.  I just pick one I like and use them almost all the time.  Another way of simplifing it I think.  I know exactly how to use that person and I can stop thinking about it and just have fun while my brain puts it power to a more purposeful use.