GloriousMess: If you practice your cooking, the style section will follow.
I don’t know, put simply. I don’t think anyone knows. There have been studies that prove men are marginally better at things like aiming, depth perception, navigating without landmarks, but the numbers I’ve seen are weird and inconsistent even in the same studies, and have been picked apart by sociologists. I’ve read a lot about women engaging with so-called hardcore games, and hardly any women interviewed in any study has expressed any sort of desire to play violent or competitive games. Most anthropologists and sociologists seem to think this is because women don’t earn any social capital from playing competitive or challenging videogames.
A study of a group of women playing Morrowind showed that none of the women were immediately attracted by its combat, but that they started engaging with and eventually came to enjoy the combat once they had framed it in relation to the activities they actually wanted to participate in. So they realized that combat allowed them to earn more money and loot to help them cultivate their trading, craft or social interaction-based play styles. A study of children playing games over a period of several years in a school showed that the girls would almost always be supportive or self-deprecating on winning, even if they were more skilled than their opponent.
Boys, on the other hand, would brag and establish a pecking order based on their skills in games. However, the girls eventually played competitively against they boys – they even took the initiative, suggesting a tournament. The researchers interpreted this as meaning that competition was certainly a possibility, it was just not a particularly attractive concept, and one that needed to have a wider context surrounding it to be meaningful. It’s not that competition is somehow repulsive to women (as I’m sure all women of any age will attest to), but investing time and dedication in inhabiting what’s most likely a masculine subject position in order to overcome abstract challenges with no bearing on “the real world”? It’s just not interesting, unless it enables something that does matter. Don’t ask me why crafting or cooking in games seem to appeal, but at least they fit into the dominant feminine gender schema, and reinforces identity, just like driving fast cars and blowing nazi brains all over the place does for men.
It seems to be rather common to think that there are intrinsic differences between men and women, supported by claims that women are more emotional and irrational than men, and that women are more socially oriented and able to express their feelings than men. There’s no scientific proof that this is somehow natural, however, and I think we’re going to be very hard-pressed to find any.
Gah. I got a 12 000 word dissertation on this lying around if anyone wants to see it. It’s a bit of a rambling mess, as it’s my first real academic work, but it might be informative if you have no real idea of the relationship between women and games.