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Male gamers dominate the leaderboards of MMO games. So a conclusion that men are better at these games is an easy one to make. Easy—also lazy, and dead wrong.

An investigation by U.S.-based scientists shows that men and women level-up at the same rate.

The scientists studied server logs for the game Everquest II, and built models to measure performance across genders. Their conclusion: “Women in our EQ2 sample advanced in the game at least as fast as men, and—in some cases—exceeded them.”

They also conducted a survey of players of Chevaliers’ Romance III, one of China’s most popular MMO games. The survey, combined with behavioral data, allowed them to track players as they played. Their conclusion: “Compared to the female group, male players did not have a significant advantage in leveling speed.”

So back to the leaderboards—why do men dominate? The researchers suggest a couple of reasons:

  • Male gamers tend to play many more hours than female ones.
  • Female gamers are more interested in social interaction than in moving up leaderboards.

All this to say that men probably will continue to dominate those leaderboards—not because they are better players, but because the leaderboards measure things men are more likely to care about. If game leaderboards measured the goals female gamers aim for, they’d look very different.

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