Online games are not exclusively a male-dominated domain, for a new study has revealed that the most hard-core players are actually females.
Challenging the age-old stereotype, the study investigating gender differences among gamers, found that despite gaming being seen as a male activity, female players now make up about 40 percent of the gaming population.
AdvertisementAlso, the study also found that gamers are healthier than average, and that game playing is an increasingly social activity.
For the study, the researchers focussed at gender differences in more than 2,400 gamers playing EverQuest II, and the participants completed a web-based questionnaire about their gaming habits and lifestyles.
Also, Everquest's creator, Sony Online Entertainment, provided the researchers with information about the players' in-game behaviours.
The results revealed that while most of the players were male, it was the female players who were the most dedicated players.
Females were found to spend more time each day playing the game than their male counterparts.
According to lead researcher Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware, the result reflected how out-of-date stereotypes could be.
"In many cases, stereotypes reflect what I would call a 'cultural time lag'. What we think about men and women and videogames may have been true 10 or 15 years ago, when there were mainly console video games or single-player games," BBC quoted him as saying.
He added: "But what we're seeing now is that games become social, and as these online games become communities then the attraction for that kind of behaviour might increase for women.
"I think a lot of our stereotypes are based on the way computer games have been, rather than where they're going."
The survey revealed an unusually high level of bisexuality among the women who took part in the study - over five times higher than the general population.
"These are not people who are following strict gender stereotypes. I think that the game itself is right now a very non-traditional activity for women, and so I think what you would find in this population are going to be people who are in other ways less traditional than the majority population," said Caplan.
One more unexpected finding was that the online game players - particularly the women - were healthier than the general population.
However, this was drawn from self-reported levels of exercise and body mass index.
Dmitri Williams, a researcher at the University of Southern California and a co-author on the study, said one possible explanation could be that playing computer games reduces the amount of time spent in front of the television.
Also the survey found that men and women played computer games for different reasons-while men more likely to play to win and women more likely to play for social reasons.
Moreover, a large number of women reported playing the game with their romantic partner, supporting the idea that game playing is becoming an increasingly sociable activity.
Such a trend, according to researchers is reflected in patterns of general computer and internet use.
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