FN#6:draft#1:Girls Play, Board Games & Interpersonal Interaction

From: Christie M. Thomas
Submit: Post Field Note
VisitDate: 10/28/96
Children-Run: Selected
Collaborative: Selected
Informal: Selected
Date: 20 Nov 1996
Time: 02:44:43
Remote Name: tsa-45.ucsc.edu



Olivia - female - grade 6, Ariana - female - grade 5, Norma - female - grade 5, Christie - female - grade


Three little girls were playing games on the floor in the back corner of the computer room. I sat in a chair at a computer near where they were at so I could watch the games. Two girls (Olivia, and Ariana) were playing the marble game while the other watched waiting for her turn. Olivia won and she began to play with the other girl. I believe Norma was new at the game because as she went around dropping the marbles she was dropping them in Olivia's side too, instead of skipping over it. I thought about telling her but decided to say nothing and just watch what happens. Olivia hadn't noticed because she was talking to the kids playing Connect 4 on her left. When she finally noticed the girl dropping marbles in her tray (which would make Olivia have more marbles) she told her that she should skip her space and helped her put the marbles in their correct places. Olivia did eventually win and I asked her if i could play with her. I told her I didn't really know how to play (I played it before yet with different kids the rules seem to be different too) so since I hadn't yet mastered the game I played the role of a novice. Olivia readily told me all the rules she played by & decided she would go first. ( I believe this is a strategy advantage ). When it was my turn Olivia helped me choose which pile of marbles it would be better for me to choose etc. The game ended with Olivia the winner. We decided to play again, Olivia "helped" "instructed" me less and less this game. I got better and we talked openly a little less. This game ended in a tie and when I wanted to play again Olivia proposed we play a different game instead.


The games between these girls were lively, marked by a lot of laughing and talking. Sometimes it seems they were whispering secrets they didn't want me to hear. When I first sat down to watch the games I asked if any of them wanted to play on the computer. Olivia said "no, they are boring". I wondered if she said the reason the computer games were boring was because they lacked the personal face to face interactions you get playing board games etc. The three girls where all playing together, they were laughing and having a good ole time on the floor with their board games (This is not the usual kind on interactions that happen when a couple of child sit down in front of a computer). Their conversations covered topics about the games they were playing and about other things as well. When I first got down on the floor with them they asked me, "are you married?". I said no. They asked how old I was and I said 23, and they exclaimed, "AND YOUR NOT MARRIED YET!". They told me I should be married because they know 18 and 19 year olds that are already married.

Another reflection I have is on the cooperation I observed between the three of them. They took turns, waiting attentively and patiently for their turns. Olivia helped Norma out by telling her about dropping the marbles in Olivia's container (saying nothing would have helped Olivia win quicker... although it would have been cheating.)

It seem when I played marbles, we had are very comfortable cooperative 1st game. (the game she beat). But when I got better at it, the cooperative helpful nature of the 1st game dimished and it became more competitive.


Can computer games be as personal and interactive as was evident in this board game? How can we create an atmosphere where several children playing one computer game can engage with each other like in other interpersonal games? Or is this even important?

Is being bored with individual non-interpersonal computer games more likely to be a complaint lodged by girls? Because we know about the socialization process of girls and boys, how girls and boy "play" styles teach them certain skills and ways of being and thinking. Should we be encouraging girls to get involved in opposite-gendered play activties? Not to say that using computers is for boys and board games and chatting is for girls. But considering Olivias comments that the computer games are boring and board games (which reminded me a lot of a tea party) are fun, I'm wondering if it is important to encourage the girls to use the computers anyway?

Also, Did Olivia begin to see me as more of an equal partner in the second game? Did this contribut to the increasingly competitive nature of it? Did this competitiveness cause Olivia to lose interest or was she afraid I was gonna get good enough to win if we played a third game?