Girl Gamers

Posted on: Friday 02 July 2010 8:52am

Sleepover research reveals how girls interact with technology and gaming.

Moderator: Shazia Ali, Research Consultant, Mint Research


Nicki Karet, MD, Sherbert Research

Emma Worrollo, Sherbert Research

Sleepovers are a growing trend for tween girls and boys with some tweens attending one up to once a week. They’re popular with parents too; keeping their kids safe at home. This has led Sherbert to develop a ‘sleepover approach’ to their work – no parents and no researchers, just the tweens with a camera and a number of tasks to carry out over the evening at their own pace.

It offers a rich way of getting information and entering the tween world. They’re given lots of time to do creative tasks, they can film themselves and also use real language – not bound by adult supervision (although a moderator is at hand to chat on MSN if needed.

You may guess that this approach does need tweaking between genders, the boys need more tasks as they tend to be more energetic, destructive and competitive so need to be kept on track whereas girls are more social and able to hold long conversations. A common factor at any sleepover though is there’s always some type of technology involved be it watching a dvd, listening to music or playing the Wii.

The girl gaming journey has evolved in a major way. We’ve moved from the Space Invader years of the 1980’s to the Gameboy in the 90’s and on to the success of Nintendo DS and Wii alongside online gaming sites like Stardoll.

Tips for successful games for girls are those that take on board how they’re developing at this age; wanting more responsibility, creating private worlds (away from home and family), and building their own identity. The more games that tick these boxes the more attractive they are e.g. Imagine Teacher, Stardoll and Nintendo dogs.

The problem is many games are failing to engage girls for long periods of time and from 10+ they start to outgrow many titles and develop a greater interest in technology on their phones and social networking. This comment is an interesting one – “I classify my phone and laptop as my toys” Girl 12 London.

If you want to know what girls want…a blackberry is on the list as the ultimate ‘hand held device’, it does everything and is available on contract for free unlike the iPhone. And they want games which reflect the real world and teen and adult life ‘something like Waterloo road but in a game’.

The boundaries between gaming and social networking are often blurred and it’s hard for kids to separate the two. This opens up an opportunity to take cues from both worlds and create something that has real social currency.