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Keeping Abreast of Hypersexuality: A Video Game Character Content Analysis

Abstract

This study examined male and female sexuality in video game characters. The top 20, best selling console (Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation2, and Nintendo GameCube) video games from the U.S. market for fiscal year 2003 were content analyzed. The 60 video games yielded a total of 489 separate characters with an identifiable sex for coding. Chi-square analyses indicated that female characters (n = 70) were underrepresented in comparison to their male counterparts (n = 419) as hypothesized. In comparison to male characters, females were significantly more likely to be shown partially nude, featured with an unrealistic body image, and depicted wearing sexually revealing clothing and inappropriate attire as also predicted. Implications for these findings are discussed using social cognitive theory as a theoretical anchor.

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Acknowledgments

This research was made possible by a grant from the Annenberg School for Communication.

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Correspondence to Edward Downs.

Appendix

Appendix

Games and ESRB ratings by Console

Nintendo GameCube
1. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (T)
2. Animal Crossing (E)
3. Super Mario Sunshine (E)
4. Luigi's Mansion (E)
5. Sonic DX Adventure (E)
6. NBA Street Vol 2 (E)
7. Enter the Matrix (T)
8. Def Jam Vendetta (T)
9. Super Smash Bros Melee (T)
10. Sonic Mega Collection (E)
11. Sonic Adventure 2 (E)
12. James Bond, 007: Nightfire (T)
13. Star Fox Adventures (T)
14. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (T)
15. Mario Party 4 (E)
16. Metroid Prime (T)
17. Resident Evil: Zero (M)
18. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (E)
19. Wario World (E)
20. The Sims (T)
Sony PlayStation 2
1. Grand Theft Auto III (M)
2. Midnight Club II (T)
3. Hack: Infection (T)
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (M)
5. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (T)
6. Def Jam Vendetta (T)
7. Enter the Matrix (T)
8. NBA Street Vol. 2 (E)
9. NBA Live 2003 (E)
10. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (E)
11. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (T)
12. Xenosaga Episode 2 (T)
13. Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven (M)
14. ATV Offroad Fury 2 (E)
15. MVP Baseball 2003 (E)
16. SOCOM: US Navy SEALS (M)
17. Dynasty Warriors 4 (T)
18. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (M)
19. Yu Gi Oh! (E)
20. The Getaway (M)
Microsoft Xbox
1. World Series Baseball 2 K3 (E)
2. MVP Baseball 2 K3 (E)
3. Midnight Club II (T)
4. Project Gotham Racing (E)
5. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (M)
6. NBA Street Vol. 2 (E)
7. The Sims (T)
8. Wolfenstein: Tides of War (M)
9. Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball (M)
10. Enter the Matrix (T)
11. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (E)
12. Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus (M)
13. Max Payne (M)
14. Halo (M)
15. Unreal Championship (M)
16. Brute Force (M)
17. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (T)
18. X-Men: Wolverine's Revenge (T)
19. ATV 2: Quad Power Racing (E)
20. The Hulk (T)

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Downs, E., Smith, S.L. Keeping Abreast of Hypersexuality: A Video Game Character Content Analysis. Sex Roles 62, 721–733 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9637-1

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Keywords

  • Video games
  • Sexuality
  • Content analysis
  • Social cognitive theory