Feminine gamification viewpoint: gender and storytelling
It is interesting to see how storytelling develops slightly differently for boys and girls. Most children start to engage in storytelling around 3-4 years of age and the stories at that age tend to be about themselves and personal adventures. The more fictional stories come into play by age 5-6, where fantasy is used to create an adventure of some kind. Research carried out with pre-schoolers found a few differences between boys and girls.
The story structure for both gender starts with initiating an event that has a goal or purpose. Boys then describe a problem and a resolution to the problem and that’s the end of the story. Girls however skip those problem scene setting steps and create a more formal beginning and ending, give side-information that orients the listener and they have a cohesive plot. The choice of topic for boys ranges from superheroes to villains to monsters, animals and dinosaurs and elements of both violence and chaos. Girls tend to choice from family life and events, activities they know and royalty. By and large society still influences how roles, characteristics and attitudes of men and women in various cultures are played out. Children learn from their direct environment what is acceptable or not.
A study into middle-childhood narrative development and gender differences at Steinhardt NYU, found that both gender were well able to construct narrative tales, which were typically more sophisticated to those in early childhood. But the differences actually remained very similar to those in early childhood in terms of structure and content. Boy’s used more conflict and increased masculinity in their stories and girls’ characters reflected a greater sense of social connectedness.
How is this important in gamification?
In a lot of projects, storytelling is a part of the campaign or even the setting of the scene. It is important to have opportunities for both gender to address the quest or challenge in their way. You could even consider and element of branched storytelling where multiple story options are open to you. Allowing creativity and identification on a level the person find’s important.
How would you handle these slight differences in gamification?