Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions
- 22k Downloads
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.
- Adams, E. (2001). Eulogy, Time. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,139659,00.html.
- Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A metaanalytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353–359.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bartholow, B. D., Dill, K. E., Anderson, K. B., & Lindsay, J. J. (2003). The proliferation of media violence and its economic underpinnings. In I. E. Sigel (series Ed.) & D. A. Gentile (vol. Ed.), Advances in applied developmental psychology: Media violence and children: A complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.Google Scholar
- Bell, P. (2002). Content analysis of visual images. In T. Van Leeuwen & C. Jewitt (Eds.), Handbook of visual analysis. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Braun, C., & Giroux, J. (1989). Arcade video games: Proxemic, cognitive and content analyses. Journal of Leisure Research, 21, 92–105.Google Scholar
- Business Wire (2006). GamePro magazine sees record growth in readership according to MRI Fall 2006. Retreived February 6, 2007 from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/GamePro+Magazine+Sees+Record+Growth+in+Readership+According+to+MRI...-a0155610136.
- Computer Gaming World 2005 Reader Study (2005). Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://gamegroup.ziffdavis.com/research/index.html.
- Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cowan, G. (2002). Content analysis of visual materials. In M. W. Wiederman & B. E. Whitley (Eds.), Handbook for conducting research on human sexuality. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Crawford, M., & Unger, R. (2004). Images of women and men. In M. Crawford & R. Unger (Eds.), Women and gender: A feminist psychology. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
- Dill, K. E., Gentile, D. A., Richter, W. A., & Dill, J. C. (2005). Violence, sex, race and age in popular video games: A content analysis. In E. Cole & J. Henderson Daniel (Eds.), Featuring females: Feminist analyses of the media. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- E3 Censorship? (2006 January). Retrieved February 13, 2007 from http://www.igda.org/sex/archives/2006/01/e3_censorship.html.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly 2005 Reader Study (2005). Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://gamegroup.ziffdavis.com/research/index.html.
- Game Informer Magazine 2006 Media Kit (2005). Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://www.gameinformer.com/OtherPages/Corporate/Advertising.htm.
- GamePro Fast Facts (2005) Retrieved September 8, 2006 from Bob Huseby, VP Sales.Google Scholar
- Gerbner, G. (1999). The stories we tell. Peace Review, 11(1), 9–15.Google Scholar
- Huntemann, N. (executive producer and director). (2000). Game over: Gender, race and violence in video games. [video]. (Available from the Media Education Foundation, 26 Center Street, Northampton, MA 01060).Google Scholar
- Hyde, J. S. (2007). Half the human experience: The psychology of women (7th ed.). New York: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Kilbourne, J. (writer/editor) & Jhally S. (director/producer). (2000). Killing us softly 3: Advertising’s image of women [videorecording]. (Available from the Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic Street, Northampton, Massachusetts 01060).Google Scholar
- Lewin, T. (2006 July 9). The new gender divide: At colleges women are leaving men in the dust. New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2007, from http://www.nytimes.com.
- Lugo, W. (2006). Violent video games recruit American youth. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 15, 11–14.Google Scholar
- Magazine Publishers of America (2004). Teen market profile. Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://www.magazine.org/Advertising_and_PIB/Ad_Categories_and_Demographics/index.cfm.
- Mediamark Research Inc. (2005). Medimark Research Inc. releases its first-ever survey of children ages 6–11. Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://www.mediamark.com/mri/docs/press/pr_11-21-05_KidsStudy.htm.
- MPA (2007). Circulation. Retrieved February 9, 2007 from http://www.magazine.org/Circulation/circulation_trends_and_magazine_handbook/.
- Ms. Pac-Man (2007). Retrieved January 24, 2007 from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms._Pac-Man.
- National Television Violence Study (1998). National Television Violence Study (Vol. 3). Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara, Center for Communication and Social Policy.Google Scholar
- Official Xbox Magazine 2006 Media Kit (2005). Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://futureus-inc.com/products/index.php?magazine=offic_xbox_mag.
- PC Gamer 2006 Media Kit (2005). Retrieved September 8, 2006 from http://futureus-inc.com/products/index.php?magazine=pc_gamer.
- Roberts, D., & Foehr, U. (2004). Kids and Media in America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Walsh, D., Gentile, D. A., VanOverbeke, M., & Chasco, E. (2002). MediaWise video game report card. Retreived January 15, 2003 from http://www.mediafamily.org/research/report_vgrc_2002-2.shtml (December).