I think I was looking for videos of smart boards last night when I came across a series of video essays on the subject of video games by a smart and poignant guy named Daniel Floyd (youtube name kirithem). This post is inspired by “Video Games and the Female Audience”. In it, he questions why there aren’t more female gamers. He suspects it has something to do with feeling badgered by other gamers who don’t respect girls or women, females are more likely to be casual, rather than hardcore, gamers, and that video games have always sort of been a boys club sort of enterprise so the content has just grown up with that.
The idea that females aren’t as interested in games struck me as the same sort of observation that surrounds boys and reading. This is such an issue that the first ever ambassador of children’s literature, the honorable Jon Scieszka, thought it so pressing that he created an extensive website called www.guysread.com to deal with it. He suspects that boys don’t like to read because they are forced to read things that are not interesting to them, that the competitive nature of boys is not rewarded by reading, and that there aren’t enough role models in fiction for them.
Given that video games are only about 50 years old and children’s literature has been around for at least a couple hundred, these are clearly not the same issue in terms of the maturity of the medium. The majority of video game developers are male. I don’t know about the majority of authors. In general I don’t like to divide anything along gender lines, but the phenomena are there: boys don’t read, girls don’t play video games. I’m not saying there are no guy readers and no girl gamers; I know there are. It may not even be a problem. What is the harm if this is the case? From the perspective of the public library, where we strive to present all points of view and open access to materials, it may just be a strong desire to share the love of reading with everyone that makes us interested in tackling male literacy. I think these issues actually come together if video games are ever able to be seen as story telling, although that may be a long time coming