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Playing with Someone (Part 2)

The differences for players who play with their children was less pronounced. About 28% of female players and 20% of male players have at least one child. Of the male players who have children, about 11% play the game with them. For the female players, this was about 18%. It's interesting to note that the children of female players are more likely to be playing an MMO. I don't have a good explanation for this though. Any thoughts?


Posted on January 3, 2006 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)


On the last question--why female players seem more likely to have their kids playing with them--I can think of a couple of explanations.

One, which is the case for me (my 9 and 11-year-old sons both play WoW with me), is that women may feel more of a responsiblity for interaction with their kids, and may therefore follow their kids into the game, or encourage their kids to follow them in. (The latter was the case for me.)

Another explanation could be that men who encourage their spouses to play might also encourage their children to join in--which, given the gender skew in the system, would result in more impact on the women/children numbers than the men/children numbers.

Posted by: Liz Lawley on January 4, 2006 11:20 AM

Maybe the children of female players are already older than those of male players as a result of the age difference between male and female players.

Posted by: Saosis on January 5, 2006 7:56 AM

I think women are more patient when it comes to teaching their kids anything in general, then men are. So, kids would be more willing to play, or keep playing, when there are less "performance" pressures from the males.

Take a look at the cat family of animals. Ever see a cub play with a Lion. Nope, the female, teaches them to play and hunt, which really prepares them for adulthood.

Roles are changing though, so will the males patience and ego, hopefully.

Posted by: James Monteath on January 5, 2006 8:07 AM

I think there's good data to show why female players play with their kids more. See page 2 of Motivations: The Bigger Picture.

The data shows that women tend to play more for relationship reasons, whereas men tend to play more for achievement reasons. Playing with your kids generally helps more with bonding than achievement goals.

Posted by: Peter on January 5, 2006 8:38 AM

I think that stating Women are more paitent than Men in teaching their Children to play online games tends to skew the results. Paitence tends to arrive with aging. I am a 62 year old Male who has taught my 4 Children and 7 Grandchildren to play. We have journeyed through Dark Age of Camelot, Shadowbane, Star Wars Galaxies, Wow, City of Heroes and currently City of Villains. I truly believe online gaming helps my family stay in touch and keeps our family bonded.

Posted by: Beau on January 6, 2006 7:58 AM

Interesting findings. I have one explanation of why children of female players are more likely to play. I think it is because generally (sorry, I have nothing to back this up now) females spend more time with children. They are probably the ones who "watch" them the most and what "better" way to "watch" them than play with them on an mmorpg.

I am a female playing WoW with my boyfriend (and brother) but I was introduced to mmorpg's by my brother (we played UO). I know you covered "family" in "Playing with Someone (part 1)" but I'd like to see more study into the brother/sister gaming relationship. My boyfriend's sister also plays WoW and I know she played games before (she was influenced by my boyfriend) she met her boyfriend who also plays WoW. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for me and some female plalyers we played games when we were younger mostly because we saw our brothers playing them, and that eventually when we date we find partners that share our interests, including gaming.

Sidenote: I didn't think I'd see my former professor post here! Rock on, Dr. Lawley!

Posted by: Emily Yang on January 6, 2006 8:54 AM

I would guess more woman play with children is a skewed or varied statistic off, less single woman playing. if 11% of males play with kids and 18% of femails play with kids, I wonder if the % of single males playing with their kids is higher then single woman playing with kids.

and if less married men play with there kids, is that because they could not get there wife to play, so are they unlikely to think there wife is going to go along with kids playing?


Posted by: Eneelia on January 8, 2006 2:26 AM

I for one, play World of Warcraft with my son, and have a number of friends that also game with their children (mostly Dads). It's our time struggle with one another in virtual world, learn about cooperation, economics, and socialization. Not to mention have a hell of a lot of fun. In the case of my son and I, it's a common point of reference for us. It keeps us tuned in to one another.
One of my close friend's son just got married and moved out of the house. During the Christmas holidays, he and his son, and daughter - in - law met up in Ogrimmar with the rest of the family and gathered around the Winter Veil Festival tree and exchanged gifts. Some were mats needed for enchants, some were bought from the AH. When he told me the story, I thought how cool it was that a virtual world extended the family relationship to the point of adding RL traditions to the experience.

Posted by: Greg Rollins on January 11, 2006 10:54 AM

Re: more women playing with their children.
More women than men are playing with the person they are in a relationship with, so the children of women players are more likely to have both parents playing than the children of men players. In this case it is a "whole family" activity.
I suggest you look at those players whose partner also plays, and compare the proportion of those male and female players whose children also play.

Posted by: Saunders on January 13, 2006 9:28 AM

Do you have any information regarding time of day for parent-child play, or setting/context?

Because - and I hate to say this, because it turns my good feminist principals to ashes in my mouth - it may be that Females are more likely to be at home with the kids, and available for play at kid friendly times.

Just a hunch, however un PC.

Posted by: k on January 19, 2006 7:18 AM

I've definitely noticed the pattern of children following their parents (or, in some cases, grandparents) into the game. I play A Tale In The Desert. I'm part of a medium-sized and very friendly guild, and about 9 months ago we had a couple of female players join. They were sisters, and were joined not long after by their grandchildren (also mostly girls).

It looked to me like they were combining watching the kids with something the grandparents wanted to do (which I guess is a better system than just plunking the kids down in front of the TV). Note that these are younger grandparents (50ish) and younger kids (12-14), too. The kids did okay, with some guidance, in the complex world of Egypt. The women tended to be on during the day (I go home at lunch to play, and I'd often see one or both of them online), while the kids would show up after school hours.

Also, just for a piece of random data, I was introducted to ATITD by my girlfriend, and while we play while sitting on the same couch as one another, we aren't often in the same area in the game.

Posted by: jbrandt on March 22, 2006 9:01 AM

A couple thoughts on the difference:

1) More children of divorced couples live with their mother. While the man would still report having children, they would be less likely to play the game because of exposure to his gaming.

2) In homes where the parents are both present, it seems like the woman often has the final say in whether or not the kids are allowed to do any given activity, and even in a situation of parental equality, an activity will usually be allowed only if both parents accept it. It seems probable that in families where the man plays and the woman doesn't, the woman has a negative view of MMOs, video games, etc. which would not only prevent her from participating in the game herself, but also cause her to deny the children access to it.

I suggest this because of my sister's family. Her husband plays several games, and she cares neither to participate in them nor find out information about what they are like. She only grudgingly allows my nephew (14) to play "dad's" games occasionally.

Posted by: Ramona on August 30, 2006 10:00 PM

Could it be that some women were roped into playing BY their kids?
Have you done a study on ages of kids of female players vs male players? (not necessarily playing w/ kids) but like do women tend to play more if they have older or younger kids?

Posted by: Kirstin on December 5, 2006 9:56 AM
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