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How to engage girls with gaming

Girls prefer to engage in simulations that put them in real-life situations.

Many people associate video games and gaming with boys, but researchers have discovered that girls become just as engaged when playing interactive educational games featuring certain motivating elements.

According to 2012 data from the Entertainment Software Association, 47 percent of all game-players are women, though their data patterns of play differ from those of men. Sixty-one percent of casual gamers, who play games such as “Words with Friends” and “FarmVille,” are women. Sixty-two percent of gamers play games with others, either online or in person.

“There’s a great social nature to games,” said Jayne C. Lammers, who has studied girls and gaming extensively and is an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education.

Research indicates that girls prefer to engage in interactive educational games that put them in real-life situations, such as “The Sims,” a popular computer game where players take control of an avatar and navigate it through real-life scenarios. Girls also enjoy playing casual games such as “FarmVille” and “Diner Dash,” animal games, and transmedia content where characters in games can be seen in books, movies, and toys—this includes familiar characters such as Barbie or Harry Potter.

(Next page: More findings on how gaming can engage girls)

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