Gender Differences and Styles in the Use of Digital Games

Philip Bonanno, Piet A.M. Kommers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports work in progress investigating gender difFerences and styles in the use of digital games amongst advanced level biology students. It is an elaboration on previous work exploring the relationship between cognitive style and academic performance in Maltese students taking biology ai advanced level. In this previous work the cognitive style of 581 (212 male and 369 female) advanced biology students was correlated with their academic performance in five different subjects. Pearson's correlation showed that the wholist-analytic dimension, the verbalimagery' dimension, and gender were not correlated. Regression analysis showed that none of the style dimension combinations had a significant effect on performance in any of the subjects. However, gender proved to be a stronger determinant of performance. These results were interpreted from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Numerous studies have consistently found gender differences in language and visuospatial skills. Female superiority is seen on tests of both receptive and productive language, and on more complex tasks such as making analogies and creative writing. Males have an advantage in visuospatial reasoning, being more adept at performing disembedding and internal spatial transformations. In view of these results and the constantly reported gender difference in the use of digital games, this paper describes the initial stage of an investigation about gender-determined propensities to digital media. Different studies claim that males dedicate more time than female students to playing digital games. A marked emphasis on the use of particular game genres by the different sexes is also reported. This reported phenomenon is investigated within the context of Maltese students taking advanced biology. Through a questionnaire, data were collected about the time students spend playing digital games, their preferred platform, and their preferred games. Data were analysed to establish gender differences in the time spent on playing digital games, the preferred platform, the most popular digital games amongst males and female students, and the preferred game genre. The results are interpreted firom neurocognitve and psychosociai perspectives. Suggestions are made for possible integration of digital games in leaming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-41
JournalJournal of educational psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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