Survey Finds Girl Gamers and Mothers Think Alike

Research to help game developers reach bigger market

Oct. 3, 2007

Mothers and their teenage daughters may disagree over fashion and music, but they are in lock step when it comes to computer games.

An eight-state survey of girls and computer games has found that mothers heavily influence their daughters’ selections of the games they play, with little or no resistance from the girls.

The survey, “Serious Games for IM Generation Girls,” was conducted last spring from a series of focus groups and personal interviews with 43 mothers and 57 daughters between the ages of 8 to 18 in California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Utah.

In choosing computer games, mothers and daughters had the same likes and dislikes. The participants were asked to rate 16 factors for choosing a game. Four of the top five factors were the same for both groups, as were the lowest four out of five factors.

“Mothers generally shun games that do not teach life skills to their daughters. When separately presented with the same choices, however, the girls agreed with their mothers’ selections,” says Dr. Michael Savoie, director of the Center for Information Technology and Management at the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management and a co-author of the survey.

The survey sought to understand the gaming experience for girls from age 8 to 18, which is the age group most involved in computer gaming. Computer games represent a $30 billion worldwide annual industry. However, 93 percent of the games on the market are geared for males.

“Girls represent roughly 80 percent of the disposable income in this age group, the IM – instant-message-instant-media-generation,” says Savoie. “There is a tremendous commercial potential for computer games designed specifically to appeal to female consumers.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Girls want the virtual worlds that games provide, but they want their games to reflect more reality than total fantasy.
  • Girls like social, interactive games that allow them to add their own personal touches, preferences and senses of humor.
  • As games become more complex, girls are playing more. The Sims, a computer game where players run the affairs of a simulated family, is popular with girls because it is a non-linear, non-winner-take-all type game.

A broader study is planned that will survey 4,000 girls and their mothers in the U.S. and Israel. From that second study, the researchers hope to develop a set of rules that can be used by game developers to design new games for girls ages 8 to 18.

The survey was conducted with the help of Elizabeth Hubbard, CEO of the Your Money Matters Institute, and game developers Dave and Emily Rushton with Sensory Sweep Studios.

Dr. Savoie recently presented the survey’s findings at the international conference “Learning with Games 2007” in Sophia Antipolis, France. To see the slideshow of the presentation, go to http://citm.utdallas.edu/gfg/lg2007.pdf.


News Contacts: Meredith Dickenson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2293, meredith.dickenson@utdallas.edu
Patricia Schoch, UTD, (972) 883-6298, pschoch@utdallas.edu

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