"You're Going to Die": Gender, Performance and Digital Gameplay

J. Jenson and S. de Castell (Canada)


Gender, education, digital media, video games, play.


This paper reports on findings from a three-year, Canadian federally funded research project entitled “Education, Gender and Gaming”. Our study of gender and digital game-playing was driven by two significant factors: first, that far more boys than girls play video games, and boys’ early and sustained experience with gaming places them at an advantage with respect to computer competence and confidence. Second, not only are computer-based media increasingly central tools for learning and work, but in fact games are increasingly being recruited in educational contexts. This eager uptake for educational deployment of game-based learning threatens to compound and intensify girls’ disadvantage. It is therefore even more urgent that educationally-based research reinvestigates stereotypical presumptions about gender as they relate to computer-based game playing for children in order to make it possible for girls to participate more fully and equally in technology-related fields. In this way, the new push to design educational games might better be informed by as full an understanding as possible of girls’ perspectives on and participation in gaming, and about the kinds of games, characters, and overall approaches to “play” that might better engage and involve girls, who are already very much participating in gaming culture.

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