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Archive for January 1st, 2009

If you’re a guy chances are you love computer games. If you love computer games, chances are you’re a guy? Is it a chauvinist statement?

According to the Telegraph, there’s a biological and psychological basis:

Playing on computer consoles activates parts of the male brain which are linked to rewarding feelings and addiction, scans have shown. The more opponents they vanquish and points they score, the more stimulated this region becomes.

In contrast, these parts of women’s brains are much less likely to be triggered by sessions on the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii or Xbox.

Professor Allan Reiss of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University, California, who led the research, said that women understood computer games just as well as men but did not have the same neurological drive to win.

“These gender differences may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become ‘hooked’ on video games than females,” he said.

“I think it’s fair to say that males tend to be more intrinsically territorial. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who historically are the conquerors and tyrants of our species – they’re the males.

“Most of the computer games that are really popular with males are territory and aggression-type games.”

I remember back in college how I wished to date a girl who could kick my ass on Nintendo (and later counter-strike). Did Professor Reiss’ findings permanently dash my hopes?

However before I buy completely into the gender implications–I have to wonder if the study is being objective enough? Competitiveness and urge to conquer are not necessarily limited to computer games. I for one have a girlfriend who manages an internet cafe–and she is incredibly competitive, not in computer games but in computer business.

From the same article:

In the study, published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, scientists wired up a series of men and women to an MRI scanner while they played a video game, which involved competing to win on-screen territory by clicking on a series of balls.

After analysing the MRI data, the researchers found participants showed activation in the brain’s mesocorticolimbic centre, the region typically associated with reward and addiction.

To solidify the research, people should wire men and women’s brains over different kinds of competitive activity. That women don’t find computer games their cup of tea does not necessarily say they aren’t more competitive than men–but that they have other outlets to be competitive about.

(Try wiring a man and a woman’s brain during shopping and I might hazard a guess that the results would flip).

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