Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are Boys Really Better Gamers Than Girls?

She's not losing because of her gender; she just can't see the screen.

Now in the interest of actually writing a full blog entry, I'll explain myself. In the recent post Are Boys Better Gamers Than Girls?, Holly over at Nintendo Lifeline argues that males are naturally more skilled at playing video games. Now while her points are valid, I just can't agree. This isn't just my feminist side valiantly sticking up for all the girls out there, I really believe that natural, physical gender is not really a factor here.

Though males are considered to be more agressive and have better reflexes, doesn't this have more to do with gender norms and stereotypes than anything else? Girls are given baby dolls; boys are given baseball bats. Girls are urged to be more patient and nurturing while boys are allowed to fight and argue. And females are also pushed to preform artistically (in mediums like dance), while guys are pushed to be perform competitively (in mediums like sports). In the end, males don't have a natural advantage here, society gives them one...or at least tries to.

"Tries to" is the important part here because the generalization that boys are better at video games is just like any other gender stereotype that you've heard before. It's not true. Just because males are more inclined to be the agressive competitive type, this doesn't mean that there isn't just as many girls out there that behave the same way. Certain individuals might be so skilled that they can pick up any game and destroy even the most hardened veteran, but to jump and say that this trait goes across the entire gender is a bit unfair. Actually, I think that video games is one the only examples of an activity where the playing field is almost equal on both sides. Gender doesn't really matter when you're pressing buttons.

And I also operate under the assumption that if there are exceptions, there is no rule...So since I'm not very good at puzzle games and my brother refuses to play Super Smash Bros. with me because he doesn't even stand a chance, I'm pretty sure that gender really doesn't matter that much. 

But what do you think: Are boys better gamers than girls?


  1. I speak from the following experiences:

    Even though we all have about the same amount of experience with the game, my two brothers beat me at Mario Kart Wii virtually every race.

    Though I have played Super Smash Bros. Brawl a lot more than them, my two younger brothers frequently beat me (though one could pretty well argue my case here! After many, many hours of practice, I'm arguably better than at least one of my brothers!)

    I once squared off against a guy who was roughly my same age, with roughly the same level of experience in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Never even came close to beating him. Probably never will.

    Nowhere have I seen the difference in skill level between males and females more evident than in first-person shooter games. I've already talked about Metroid Prime 2 multiplayer. I could tell you about a myriad of other experiences, but that would turn this comment into a novel. Suffice it to say that the games involved range from Goldeneye 007 to Banjo Tooie.

    I never would have been able to get through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time if it weren't for the help of my friend Dalton, who's only a year older than me.

    Then there's my friend Sky. He creams me at Mario Kart 7, trounces me at Kid Icarus: Uprising, and beats games like Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in about half the time it takes me. And, once again, he's a youngster and doesn't even approach the amount of game-playing experience I have.

    I was also pretty well-beaten at a multiplayer game called MotoHeroz by a guy you might define as a casual gamer at best on HIS first try at the game...after the total scores from 60 races were added up.

    Gender is an undeniable part of a person's identity, and there are clear differences in many regards between men and women. Obviously, there are variances in every aspect of life, but females are just generally more gentle than males. Saying that boys are better at video games is kinda like saying that boys are a lot more likely to physically abuse than women, which is a fact by the way (learned it in high school at some point). Both of those statements suggest the natural aggressiveness of men. Both can be disputed on an individual level, just like everything else can, but not on a broad level.

    1. I feel like my experiences have been completely different. When it comes to games that I play with others or ones I consider myself "good at", I don’t usually lose. When I do, it's to someone who has more experience/takes it more seriously/plays cheaply/has good luck.

      In terms of my experience with playing with males in particular, it goes around the board. Like I said my older brother refuses to play Smash Bros. with me because he doesn't own the game and thinks that gives me an unfair advantage (and that I cheat, but I don’t). But we are almost equally matched at Mario Kart, even though he only plays when he comes to visit. This isn't because of his “masculine reflexes”; he just plays racing games more often than fighting ones for the most part.

      On the other side, I used to play one of his basketball games with him...At first, he would kill me. After a few visits, I got used to the controls and we were almost equally matched, but he was still was more accustomed to sports games and the console itself (XBOX) than I was.

      Sometimes I play games like Smash Bros. and Mario Kart with the guys on my campus and as the person with the most experience, I win more often than not. There are some boys who can give me a run for my money, but they tend to take the game much more seriously than I do (I’m talking strict, tournament level people). When it comes down to it, my toughest competition is my good friend Tiffany, who has played the games (at least Smash Bros. anyway) almost as much as I have...

      ...In the end, I think the answer boils down to personal preference and experience and not exactly gender. And since most of the boys you’ve listed are younger than you, I stand by the comment I left on your blog about age and technology. There are countless stories of young people handling technology better than their older friends/parents, simply because they have grown up in a technological world and are more used to it being around. I’m pretty sure that is a bigger factor here than their gender, but I am not trying to count that out.

      And I also disagree with the idea that gender is an part of a person’s identity, at least as a “natural” part of their identity...but to go into that will make this into a deeper discussion of nature vs. nurture and that is not what I want at all...I’ll just end this essay here.

      Thanks again for this discussion! Since we could go on forever, should we just agree to disagree?

    2. Sure thing! Sorry the reply took so long. School, fall break, travel...you know the drill well enough by now I'm sure. I'm glad to have had this conversation!

  2. Hello Erin,

    I enjoy your blog, and your style. I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, for more information about the award please stop by website www.lilliesandsilk.com.



Questions? Concerns? Disagree with me completely? Think that video games and fashion is a horrible combination and that I should go back to my (non-existant) day job?

Leave a comment! Every opinion is welcome here--even that last one--as long as you're polite and courteous.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...