Sex Roles

, 61:824 | Cite as

A Content Analysis of Female Body Imagery in Video Games

  • Nicole MartinsEmail author
  • Dmitri C. Williams
  • Kristen Harrison
  • Rabindra A. Ratan
Original Article


The 150 top-selling video games sold in the U.S. across nine platforms were content analyzed to study representations of female bodies. All human females in the games were captured via screenshot and body parts measured. These measurements were then compared to actual anthropometric data drawn from a representative sample of 3,000 American women. The results show that female video game characters at low levels of photorealism are systematically larger than the average American woman whereas female characters at the highest level of photorealism are systematically thinner. This study also found that games rated for children featured females that are thinner than characters in games rated for adults. These findings are discussed in terms of cultivation theory.


Video games Body image Women Cultivation 



The authors would like to thank the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for funding the project, as well as Li Xiong, Sarah Pica and Andrew Beharelle for their assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Martins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dmitri C. Williams
    • 2
  • Kristen Harrison
    • 3
  • Rabindra A. Ratan
    • 4
  1. 1.Television Radio and Television CenterIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  4. 4.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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