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Outnumbered online: Exploring perspectives of female gamers
Background and Objectives:
With growing engagement with video games and a growing number of studies on gaming as an addiction, there are also increasing numbers of women who play video games than in previous decades. Many women experience playing online games differently from men. Thus, the implications for interventions whether we are treating women who have Internet gaming disorder or we are using games to treat other health issues, also differ. The aim of this scoping review was to identify, describe, and categorize female gamer characteristics, online experiences, and offline effects on female gamers.
Five stages of the York framework as outlined by Arksey and O’Malley were used to guide this review. A total of eight databases and four grey literature databases were searched, yielding 2511 hits. Forty-four full-text articles were included in the final analysis after independent screening by two individuals.
The final articles included originated from 15 countries. There were four mixed methods studies, nine qualitative studies and 31 quantitative studies. The main results of this review were reported in three sections as follows: characteristics, online world and offline world. An overwhelming number of male respondents in these studies that predominately used survey/polling methods may fail to capture an accurate representation of female views. Females were found to play more interactive scenario-based games rather than shooter games. They also tended to be older than male gamers, brought their offline identities online, and played for the social aspect of gaming. Health concerns for adolescent girls were getting little sleep and having insufficient time to eat or not eating at all. Girl gamers also reported having higher incidences of depression and poorer psychological well-being.
More studies that exclusively focus on female views and health concerns are needed. Healthcare professionals can use the understanding of female gamers to tailor interventions for balancing gaming as a hobby versus gaming problematically to prevent Internet gaming disorder. Understanding female motivations for playing different genres of games can also enable healthcare providers and game developers to create more targeted and effective serious games for women.