Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 57, Issue 11, pp 851-864

First online:

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

  • Karen E. DillAffiliated withLenoir-Rhyne College Email author 
  • , Kathryn P. ThillAffiliated withLenoir-Rhyne College

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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.


Video game Stereotype Sex roles Violence Magazine Content analysis