Why Are Guys Better at Video Games?

February 14, 2024

The gaming industry has long been dominated by male players, and the esports (professional video game tournament) scene is no exception. There are some female gamers who compete, but the majority of esports players are male. But why are guys better at video games? It may be because the reward centers of the brain are activated in men more than women, according to a new study.

Researchers asked 11 men and 11 women to play a simple computer game with a territory-gaining element. The participants were hooked up to functional magnetic resonance imaging machines, and the scientists watched their brains as they played. They found that when men played the game, their nucleus accumbens, amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex all lit up, and the intensity of the brain activity correlated with how much territory they gained in the game. In contrast, when the game was played by women, these three regions of the brain did not light up.

While this finding may help explain why most avid gamers have a Y chromosome, the gender differences observed in the study do not necessarily reflect the differences in gaming skills between men and women in general. Moreover, based on research from other studies and surveys, it is possible that gender stereotypes play a role in the popularity of video gaming, and that most people assume that video games are designed for and targeted to males. A recent Pew Research Center survey, for example, found that both men and women who play video games think that most people who play them are males.

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