Study: Girls can design videogames, too

Feb. 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM

EDMONTON, Alberta, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers hoping to pique girls' interest in computer science say that for high-school girls the fun is in making video games, not just playing them.

Computer scientists at the University of Alberta wanted to see whether girls would gain as much interest in video game development as the boys in a study group when all were given a computer program that would allow them to develop and design their own games.

"We thought we should have female students create games and see if they are just as excited about making games as male students and see whether it's an attractor to computing science that is independent of gender," researcher Mike Carbonaro said.

A key factor in the study of 10th-grade students was having male participants who had more experience than the females at playing computer games.

"The female students built games that were every bit as good as the male students made, even though the male students had more experience with playing games," computing science Professor Duane Szafron said. "In terms of the quality of the games developed and the abstraction skills that the students learned, which could translate to knowledge of competing science -- and in terms of the amount of fun that they had -- there was no difference between the two groups."

Computer science teachers need to look at redesigning the types of projects and content they use in class to make them more "female-user friendly," Carbonaro said.

"If you want more females in computing science, you need to radically change the curriculum. You need to provide activities that are more gender neutral so that they'll be attracted to the discipline."

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