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    GameChange(H)er: How Nancy Drew Video Games Build Strong Girls

    HCI 2014 - Sand, Sea & Sky - Holiday HCI

    Proceedings of the 28th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2014)

    Southport, UK, 9 - 12 September 2014


    Katryna Starks, Christian Jones & Mary Katsikitis



    There are limitations in the amount and scope of female protagonists in video games that are made for and marketed toward adolescent girls, and very few studies on the effects on girls when they play them. Furthermore, the games that exist are often lacking in immersive factors as compared with games marketed toward males. This research explores the role of agentic (proactively moving the game forward through choice and action) female video game protagonists in generating positive effects in gamers, investigated through the example of the Nancy Drew video game series. In this March and April of 2013, 341 fan letters were gathered from the Her Interactive website and qualitatively analysed using grounded theory principles. Open coding was used to generate categories, which were then consolidated into four core phenomena and one miscellaneous category: agency, absorption, academics, connection, and other. Players of Nancy Drew video games reported engagement with the games, resulting in positive effects in several areas including agency, academic pursuits, literacy, career choice and family closeness. Implications for this research include recommendations for the inclusion of agentic female protagonists and an increase in production of games for adolescent girls.


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