Women Gamers More Hard-Core Than Men

Female players rack up more hours online than male gamers, a new study suggests.

ByABC News
February 13, 2009, 1:33 PM

Feb. 14, 2009— -- Picture in your mind a hard-core video gamer, and 27-year-old Christina Winterburn may not be the first person who comes to mind. But Winterburn, a blogger for theGirlGamer.net and a gamer since the age of 6, says she feels no guilt about gaming and that playing video games is one of her favorite activities with her boyfriend.

Indeed, women now represent 40 percent of the gaming community in the United States, and new research that sheds light on the world of online gaming shows that female gamers -- or "girl gamers" as they are often called -- already may be bucking gender stereotypes.

In research presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, a group of researchers reports that female players are more hard-core -- playing more hours per week on average than their male counterparts -- and are happier when playing with their romantic partners while male gamers prefer to play on their own.

The study, one of the first of its kind, involved thousands of players of EverQuest II, a popular online role-playing game, also known as an MMO, short for "massively multiplayer online." Dmitri Williams and colleagues were granted access to the EverQuest II database and linked the data to a survey of nearly 7,000 players who agreed to participate in exchange for a virtual prize.

The study's authors have previously reported that, contrary to stereotypes, online gamers are healthier than the general population as measured by body-mass index (BMI) and exercise habits. Williams, a professor of communication at the University of Southern California, and his colleagues also found that women were the most dedicated players, spending on average 29 hours per week online, while men averaged just 25 hours per week.

"Players who played the game with their romantic partners enjoyed the game more and spent more time playing," says Scott Caplan, one of the co-authors of the study and a professor of communication at the University of Delaware. He also noted that the study raises more questions for future research into gender stereotypes and cautioned that their results shouldn't be generalized yet.