A conceptual framework for supporting gender inclusivity in games.
University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science,
Gender inclusivity in games is still exploratory and, despite an increase in games and gender research, many challenges remain in designing a more gender-inclusive game. This thesis addresses the problem of how to support gender inclusivity in games by combining theories in games and gender. Existing research in games and gender tend to focus on finding out how each gender plays and their preferences in games. However, there is little evidence that researchers have approached the issue of gender inclusivity in games with the intent of building a cohesive understanding of gender inclusivity in games and the relationships that exist between the different dimensions and components. Consequently, this research has developed a conceptual framework that supports gender inclusivity in games.
A central contribution of this research is the development of a Gender Inclusivity Framework (GIF) to support an integrative approach to understanding and evaluating gender inclusivity in games. The framework enables understanding of the makeup of gender inclusivity in games and measures the level of gender inclusivity in games. Drawing upon established theories and prior research findings, the framework indicates that gender inclusivity in games can be determined by three dimensions: (1) gameplay, which relates to game behaviours; (2) content, which relates to aesthetics elements of a game; and (3) genre, which relates to types of games. Each dimension in the framework is divided into individual components that can be modified or further investigated in future studies. Each component in combination describes the dimension in terms that can be measured and evaluated in empirical studies. Hence, the combination of dimensions and components used to construct the framework provide the description of gender inclusivity in games, which in turn predicts the degree of gender inclusivity in games.
An example of GIF application has been demonstrated through the development of a novel measuring instrument called Gender Inclusivity Rating Scale (GIRS) and through a series of experiments, the GIRS has been validated and used in a research scenario to investigate the differences in gender inclusivity in game component between a gamer?s gender role orientations.
This thesis presents a detailed discussion of the GIF development, validation and application. For researchers, the GIF provides a common framework in which to conceptualise their research and make it easier to see how individual variables fit into the larger picture. For game designers, the GIF enables deconstruction of the concept of gender inclusivity in games into smaller, conceptually distinct and manageable components to guide the design of gender inclusivity in games.
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