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A Content Analysis of Female Body Imagery in Video Games


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.

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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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Correspondence to Nicole Martins.

Appendix A

Appendix A

1. 50 Cent Bulletproof

2. Advance Wars Dual Strike

3. Age of Empires

4. Animal Crossing

5. Animal Crossing (DS)

6. Advance Wars Dual Strike

7. Age of Empires

8. Bey Blade V Force

9. Blitz: The League

10. Bratz: Rock Angels

11. Burn Out 3

12. Burnout Legends

13. Call of Duty 2

14. Call of Duty: Big Red One

15. Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow

16. Chronicles of Narnia

17. Civilization 4

18. Coded Arms

19. Condemned:Criminal Origins

20. Crash Bandicoot 2

21. Crash Bash

22. Crash team racing

23. Dead or Alive 4

24. Sims Deluxe

25. Disney’s Chicken Little

26. Disney Princess

27. Donkey Kong Country 3

28. Doom 3

29. Dragon Ball GT Final

30. Dragon Ball Z: Budakai

31. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle

32. Fable

33. Fight Night Round 2

34. Fight Night Round 3

35. Final Fantasy IX

36. Final Fantasy Tactics

37. Final Fantasy VII

38. Final Fantasy VIII

39. Fire Emblem: Sacred Stone

40. Forza Motorsport

41. God of War

42. Gran Turismo

43. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

44. GTA: Liberty Stories

45. Guild Wars

46. Gun

47. Halo 2

48. Halo: Combat Evolved

49. Harry Potter Goblet of Fire

50. Kameo: Elements of Power

51. King Kong

52. Kirby Airride

53. Kirby Canvas Curse

54. Lego Star Wars

55. Luigi’s Mansion

56. Lumines

57. Madagascar

58. Madden ’06

59. Major League Baseball 2K5

60. Mario and Luigi Partners in Time

61. Mario Golf

62. Mario Kart

63. Mario Kart Double Dash

64. Mario Party 7

65. Mario Party Advance

66. Mario Superstar Baseball

67. Medal of Honor: European Assualt

68. Metal Gear Acid

69. Midnight Club Dub

70. MVP Baseball 2005

71. Namco Museum

72. NBA 2k6

73. NBA Live ’06

74. NCAA Football 2006

75. Need for Speed: Most Wanted

76. Need for Speed: Underground

77. NFL Gameday 2005

78. NFL Street Unleashed

79. Nintendogs: Chihuaha

80. Nintendogs: Dachschund

81. Nintendogs: Labrador

82. Perfect Dark Zero

83. Pokemon Coliseum

84. Pokemon Dash

85. Pokemon Emerald

86. Pokemon Firered

87. Pokemon Leafgreen

88. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness

89. Project Gotham Racing

90. Quake 4

91. Ratchet Deadlocked

92. Resident Evil 4

93. Ridge Racer

94. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3

95. Shadow of the Hedgehog

96. Simpsons Road Rage

97. Sims 2

98. Sims Deluxe

99. Sims University

100. Sims: Nightlife

101. Socom 3 US Navy Seals

102. SOCOM US Navy Seals: Fireteam Bravo

103. Sonic Heroes

104. Sonic Mega Collection

105. Sonic Rush

106. Soul Calibur 3

107. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

108. Spongebob Supersponge

109. Spyro: Year of the Dragon

110. Star Wars Battlefront

111. Star Wars Battlefront 2

112. Star Wars III: Sith

113. Star Wars: Republic Commando

114. Super Mario 3

115. Super Mario 64

116. Super Mario Strikers

117. Super Mario Sunshine

118. Supersmash

119. Tiger Woods

120. Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland

121. Tony Hawk: Underground 2 Remix

122. Twisted Metal: Head On

123. Untold Legends

124. Wariowear Touched

125. Wipe Out Pure

126. World of Warcraft

127. WWE Smackdown

128. Yoshi Touch and Go

129. Zelda

130. Zelda Windwalker

131. Zoo Tycoon

132. Zoo Tycoon DS

133. Zoo Tycoon: The Complete Collection

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Martins, N., Williams, D.C., Harrison, K. et al. A Content Analysis of Female Body Imagery in Video Games. Sex Roles 61, 824 (2009).

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  • Video games
  • Body image
  • Women
  • Cultivation