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University author argues that games 'where you must kill to survive' are good for female children

on 14 February 2013

An academic thesis published in December 2012 argues that "predation play" - a descriptor of video games that encourage survival at any cost - offers valuable lessons and inspiration for young females.

Elena Bertozzi of Long Island University published her article, titled "Killing for Girls: Predation Play and Female Empowerment," in the Bulletin of Science Technology & Society several weeks ago. "Videogames that simulate predation - games in which the player is being hunted by others and must kill to survive - have long been the province of young males," Bertozzi claims. "Playing games that virtually simulate predation . . . has many benefits for female players." For reference, Bertozzi defines predation play as any game in which the player's avatar "finds itself in a situation where it is under attack by enemies seeking to eliminate it," citing Halo, Call of Duty, and Half-Life as examples. She asks, "Is the player willing to do what is necessary to survive? Is the player able to learn the strategies needed for success in specific environments?"

Her questions provide context for an argument that claims females are less prepared to face the challenges of violent, predatory games than their male counterparts. Bertozzi points the finger of blame at societal norms, which she says "prioritize nurturing and prosocial behaviors" at the expense of competition and necessary aggression for females to stake a claim in the working world. In contrast, "predation play creates a learning scenario where the player dies almost immediately if she does not compete." To Bertozzi, a game like Far Cry 3 presents significant benefits to girls who might feel pinned to gender roles. Predation play "can be used to empower those who feel powerless - at the mercy of predators - by teaching them how to respond successfully to predation," Bertozzi states, before citing sexual harrassment, rape, and physical assault as examples of real-world predation that video games can help females combat.

"Encouraging females to play at the same kinds of digital games males do may finally affect female willingness to seek and achieve the same kinds of power and status of top males. To accomplish this, parents and educators have to recognize the importance of predation play for the future success of female children."

Do you agree with Bertozzi's position? Can violent video games with an emphasis on survival teach valuable lessons to women in society? Join the conversation, and give us your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Bertozzi, Elena. "Killing for Girls : Predation Play and Female Empowerment." Bulletin of Science & Technology 32, no. 447 (December 2, 2012).