many of our most prolific writers and senior bloggers are of the fairer sex.) Traditionally, this has been pinned on sociological factors that discourage women from developing as close a relation with computers as men. While there is still probably a kernel of truth to that, a new study out of the Stanford University School of Medicine points to biological factors hard-wired into the brain as the cause. Reportedly, MRI scans taken of both men and women while playing a simple game showed a marked difference in the areas of the brain responsible for feelings of reward and addiction. Men simply got more of a buzz out of games than women, by and large.
What amused me was the description of the game they used in testing, which they described as having no real prescribed goal -- the test subjects simply clicked a series of images depicting balls as they slowly approached a wall. The more quickly they clicked the images, the more ground they gained. Without any instruction, the men in the study "appeared more motivated to acquire terrain." No real prescribed goal? Players motivating themselves to acquire terrain? Feelings of reward and addiction? If I didn't know any better, I'd swear they were using an MMO for that study! At the same time, short of casual Popcap-style games, MMOs probably enjoy one of the highest female to male ratios in the industry, so I'd stop short of saying that sociology has nothing to do with it. Still, very interesting stuff.