Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions
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.
KeywordsVideo game Stereotype Sex roles Violence Magazine Content analysis
This research was supported by a research collaboration grant from Lenoir-Rhyne College. Great thanks to Dorothy Singer and Melanie Killen for comments on a previous version of this article. Thanks also to Craig Anderson and Melinda Burgess for helpful comments on a version just prior to publication. We acknowledge the support of the Lenoir-Rhyne College scholarship group (Beth Wright, Paulina Ruf, Bill Richter, Lisa Harris, Kathy Ivey, Gail Summer). Finally, thank you to our research assistants, Brian Brown and Michael Collins.
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