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Playing for real in a virtual world

Gender still influences how preteen boys and girls play when they assume new identities online

In a virtual setting where fifth-graders become wizards and athletes, and even change sexes, preteens stay true to their real-world selves. Classic sex differences in play preferences, characterized by rough-and-tumble games among boys and intimate conversations among girls, still exist after youngsters adopt a range of personas for virtual encounters, investigators find.

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