Failing to See a Difference: Closing a Gender Gap in a Challenging Video Game

Craig G. Anderson, Amanda L.L. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How players react to failure remains an understudied area of games research. Previous work has shown that mastery orientation can effectively gauge how players will behave in response to failure in a video game. This study shows that after playing a challenging video game for two weeks, women who initially scored lower on this scale significantly increased, while men significantly decreased. No differences were found regarding how much they played, how often they failed, or their reactions to in-game failure. This suggests that this change is not rooted in their behavior, but in their perceptions of their ability to persist in these environments. These perceptions may have been influenced by well-documented stereotype biases that women and other individuals face entering video game communities. While this doesn’t address the root cause, it suggests that the perception of their ability to persist through challenging games can change with exposure, relieving these held biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-285
Number of pages19
JournalGames and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • challenge
  • failure
  • game analytics
  • gendered differences
  • mastery orientation


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