Friday feminine gamification viewpoint: gender relevance checklist
In my research for this blog theme I came across a project from Stanford University in the USA called Gendered Innovations. The main purpose of it is to encourage fields such as science, health & medicine, engineering and environment to consider both genders during their research and design phases as well as in testing. In fact the early car designs were only collision impact tested with androgenous dolls, hence some design features were actually quite harmful for pregnant women, because obviously their shape is significantly different.
The centre developed a checklist to aid researchers, scientist and engineers, which I found gives useful insight when you are thinking about designing gamification solutions. Here is a selections of the questions to consider:
- What are the potential application areas of the technology (professional life, leisure activities, home, etc.)?
- Do these contexts suggest different patterns of use by different groups of potential customers (e.g. men and women)?
- Might different groups of potential customers have different expectations regarding the interface?
- Do certain features of previous innovations reinforce existing gender inequalities, gender norms or stereotypes?
- Might different group of potential consumers have different expectations regarding the exterior design? regarding features and functions?
- Is it more cost-effective to tailor the technology to specific groups (e.g. women, men) at early development stages or could it be inexpensively adapted in post development?
- Is there a risk of excluding certain groups through the technology design?
- Would certain configurations reinforce existing social roles (e.g. gender segregation in the work force, men associated with engineering and women with domestic technologies for example)?
- Is it possible and/or necessary to establish a usability lab or to run ergonomic tests? What additional tools might you use for monitoring (questionnaires, workshops, etc)?
- Have you ensured diversity within test groups (in terms of age, sex, gender identity, height, etc.)?
The above questions are only a selection of a number of full checklists aimed at various design and research strands, which I believe will be helpful when you are having gender usability debates.
I was asked to give feedback on an app recently and whilst the app was quirky and seemed good, the gender bias was very much male oriented in terms of encouraging hyper competitive alpha male behaviour. Yet the actions required to be “top player” were sharing of photographs as proof, which tends to be a female sport. Off course there are also alpha females who will play. But when you want to appeal to both sides, my view is to look into each genders behaviours, likes and dislikes, when they opt-in and at what point you have missed the point completely.
Sometimes just appealing to one gender may be easier to develop for. At this moment in time a lot of our games and gamification solutions are designed by men, which may imply a gender bias hence it is important to be aware of it and work with women in tests and pilots to make sure they are also engaged. Just like for me my bias is towards ladies and I would need to make sure my solutions are tested by men.
I would love to know, what mistakes or successes you have had in gender specific solution design and what would you recommend to others as a result?