, Volume 57, Issue 11-12, pp 851-864

Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions

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Abstract

Video game characters are icons in youth popular culture, but research on their role in gender socialization is rare. A content analysis of images of video game characters from top-selling American gaming magazines showed male characters (83%) are more likely than female characters (62%) to be portrayed as aggressive. Female characters are more likely than male characters to be portrayed as sexualized (60% versus 1%), scantily clad (39% versus 8%) and as showing a mix of sex and aggression (39 versus 1%). A survey of teens confirmed that stereotypes of male characters as aggressive and female characters as sexually objectified physical specimens are held even by non-gamers. Studies are discussed in terms of the role media plays in socializing sexism.

Karen E. Dill and Kathryn P. Thill (formerly Kathryn L. Phillips), School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Lenoir-Rhyne College.