Sure, more boys ages 13 to 17 play than girls—84 percent and 59 percent, respectively—but both genders play a lot of games and a lot of different kinds of games.
“More than 35 percent of the girls in the Wiseman and Burch study said they play role-playing games,” Suellentrop writes, adding that this is “a larger number than the 32 percent who said they played mobile games.” But while games are popular with both boys and girls, there is a striking difference in how they play.
Thirty-eight percent “of all teen boys share their gaming handle as one of the first three pieces of information exchanged when they meet someone they would like to be friends with,” Amanda Lenhart, one of the authors of the study writes, while “just 7% of girls share a gaming handle when meeting new friends.” What particularly interested Suellentrop was the revelation that even when girls play games online, they are far less likely than boys to turn on their mics to talk to other players.
“Only 28 percent of the girls who play video games online use voice chat to talk to other players,” he writes, in contrast to the 71 percent of boys who play online do.
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Suellentrop shies away from speculating, but the answer seems obvious to me, a woman who has played video games in some form or another since junior high school. For women and girls, playing with friends, at least if you’re in a mixed-gender group, means that your performance is under a lot more scrutiny and that any failures are more likely to be blamed on your gender than if you were a guy.