"Girls, let your boyfriends play Madden; They honestly can't help it"

Football kicked off to an early start for me this season.


Two weeks ago I made the best purchase from the bookstore in all four years of my college career. An XBOX 360. I honestly just bought the $300 device to play Guitar Hero.

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Now though, instead of Alice Cooper's ""School's Out for Summer"" blaring through my speakers, I have the finest football game EA strategically crafted for the male mind streaming into my room almost religiously.   


Madden 10.


Granted, I know nothing about football. I must admit, though, I am impressed with the game.


It isn't just the crystal-clear graphics and stadium-like environment that makes me want to reach for a cold beer, plop down next to my boyfriend and watch him fight for every yard.


It's the talent and skill behind the game that fascinates me. Madden 10 is the closest experience one can get without actually playing running back or wide receiver.    


It's no wonder the phrase, ""You wanna get down on some Madden?"" is something my boyfriend asks quite often. Not of me of course, but to ""ZonaCat8"", his little XBOX Live friend.


Girls, if this sort of behavior sounds familiar, just bite your tongue, grin and bear it. And, if you're a guy, you may be able to blame your time spent playing on your gender, according to a new study.


It turns out, men's passion for video games comes from a deep-rooted urge to conquer and the stimulated feeling is rewarding for them.    


A 2007 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research explains men and the long-term, open relationship they have had with video games for years. Scientists wired up 11 men and 11 women to an MRI scanner while they played a video game. The game involved competing to win on-screen territory by clicking on a series of balls.  


After analyzing the MRI data, researchers found participants showed activation in the brain's mesocorticolimbic center, the region typically associated with reward and addiction. Male brains, however, showed much greater activation and the amount increased as they gained more territory. The three structures within the reward circuit, the nucleus accumbens, amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex, were also shown to influence each other much more in men than in women.          


The more opponents they vanquished and points they scored, the more stimulated this region became.           


But this was not the case with women.


Basically, these parts of women's brains are much less likely to be triggered and stimulated the same way as men's.   


This doesn't mean women don't enjoy playing video games; women just don't feel the same stimulated feelings of reward as men.     


Allan Reiss, the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University, led the research, and said that women understood the computer games just as well as men but did not have the same neurological drive to win.    


I've never been a ""gamer girl"" but I do remember playing Sonic the Hedgehog religiously when I was eleven on my SEGA game system and every now and then ""Where in the World is Carmen San Diego"" or the ""SIMS"" on the computer.   


Granted, these three bear no comparison to today's games on the market, but they all have one thing in common: an intricate story line where I feel emotionally attached or involved with the game.    


Sheri Graner Ray has been a game designer for the last 16 years and worked for Sony Online Entertainment and the Cartoon Network, and spoke at the 2006 Sex in Video Games conference in San Francisco, CA.    


Ray argues that video game companies simply don't understand women.   


Ray says female gamers need more than just flashy objects and loud explosives to keep them awake. At one of her seminars, Ray explained a perfect example that illustrates her point.      


Ray watched a 13-year-old girl advance at a popular game. Instead of continuing to on to the higher levels, the girl soon got bored and quit playing. When Ray asked why she quit, the girl said, ""I pulled his heart out once, why do I need to do it again?"" It was almost as if she felt fulfilled early in the game and felt no need to continue on. She simply didn't feel compelled to beat the game.


If video game companies truly want to market to female gamers, they will need to provide a way for players to become acquainted with their characters, have an engaging storyline, lots of action and lots of variety.               


Basically girls, don't blame the boys; blame the companies. Most video games out on the market are like bad boyfriends. They're too involved with their own male sexuality to even try to crack the female sexual code. 


For the time being, next time the phrase ""Wanna get down on some Madden?"" comes up, just ask as few questions and take a few notes. There's a good chance the makers at EA will get you more interested in the game, rather then just the beer and tailgate parties this year's football season.

 

— Tiffany Kimmell is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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