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Gender and Race Representation in Casual Games


This paper examines gender and race representation in casual games through content analysis. Study 1 looks at gender and race representation in a random sample (N = 200) of casual games retrieved from the websites of the largest five casual game distributors. Study 2 looks at the most popular games on websites of the same five multinational distributors (N = 54) and analyzes how primary characters are portrayed in terms of appearance and personality. Females are overly represented as primary characters but chi-square analyses indicate no significant differences between sexes in terms of how they are portrayed: of note, neither males nor females are depicted in a sexual manner. These results conflict with previous studies of gender representation in game characters: this paper suggests that sampling methodology and the relatively new trend of casual games excluded this subset of games from prior research. Implications are discussed using a social cognitive framework.

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Thanks to Editor Irene Frieze, the anonymous reviewers, and Felix Fish.

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Correspondence to Donghee Yvette Wohn.


Appendix A: Titles of 200 Randomly-Selected Casual Games

A: Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Age of Emerald, Age of Oracles: Tara’s Journey, Alexandra Fortune: Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago, Alice Greenfingers, Alice’s Magical Mahjong, Amazing Heists: Dillinger, Amelie’s Café, Angela Young 2: Escape the Dreamscape, Annabel, Anna’s Ice Cream, Antique Shop, Apple Pie, ArkLight, Ashton’s Family Resort, Australia Zoo Quest, Avernum 4, Aveyond 2, Aveyond: Lord of Twilight

B: Babylonia, Babysitting Mania, Becky Brogan: The Mystery of Meane Manor, Beetle Bug 3, Belle’s Beauty Boutique, Bilbo: The Four Corners of the World, Bonnie’s Bookstore, Book of Legends, Born Into Darkness, Brave Piglet, Bubble Town, Build in Time, Build It! Miami Beach Resort, Burger Island, Burger Shop 2

C: Cajun Cop: The French Quarter Caper, Cake Mania, Cake Shop, Call of Atlantis, Carrie the Caregiver 2: Preschool, Cate West: The Vanishing Files, Chewsters, Chicken Attack, Chicken Invaders 3 Christmas Edition, Chocolate Shop Frenzy, Chocolatier: Decadence by Design, Chromentum 2, Clayside, Coconut Queen, Conga Bugs, Cooking Academy, Cooking Quest, County Fair, Cradle of Rome, Cryptex of Time, Curse of the Pharaoh: The Quest for Nefertiti, Cute Knight, Cy-Clone

D: Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, Deep Ball Defender, Deep Quest, Delaware St. John—The Curse of Midnight Manor, Department 42: The Mystery of the Nine, Diner Dash: Hometown Hero, Dirty Dancing, Discovering Nature, Discovery! A Seek and Find Adventure, Downbeat, Dr. Daisy Pet Vet, Dracula Origin, Dragon, Dragon Portals, Dragon Stone, Dream Day First Home, Dream Sleuth, Dreamsdwell Stories, Dress Up Rush, Druids—Battle of Magic, Dynasty

E: Echoes of the Past: Royal House of Stone, Elementals: The Magic Key, Elf Bowling: Hawaiian Vacation, Emerald City Confidential, Emerald Tale, Enchanted Fairy Friends: Secret of the Fairy Queen, Enchanted Katya and the Mystery of the Lost Wizard, Escape the Museum 2

F: Fab Fashion, Fabulous Finds, Family Restaurant, Fantastic Farm, Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie, Farmer Jane, Fashion Dash, Fashion Rush, Fashion Solitaire, Feeding Frenzy 2 Shipwreck Showdown, Fever Frenzy, Fill Up!, Fishdom—Spooky Splash, Fitness Dash, Fix-it-up: Kate’s Adventure, Fizzball, Flower Paradise, Flower Stand Tycoon, Forgotten Lands: First Colony, Fur Ball Frenzy

G: G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor, Garden Defense, Gemini Lost, Gems Quest, Go! Go! Rescue Squad!, Gold Miner Vegas, Gourmania, Grandpa’s Candy Factory, Granny in Paradise

H: Hell’s Kitchen, Hidden Expedition—Devil’s Triangle, Hidden in Time: Mirror Mirror, Hollywood Tycoon, Hotel Dash: Suite Success, Huru Beach Party, Hyperballoid Golden Pack

I: Ice Cream Dee Lites, Ice Cream Tycoon, Ikibago, Inca Ball, Interpol 2: Most Wanted, Iron Roses

J: Jane Angel: Templar Mystery, Jojo’s Fashion Show: World Tour

L: Legacy: World Adventure, LEGO Fever, Loco Mogul, Luxor 3

M: Magic Encyclopedia, Magic Farm: Ultimate Flower, Magic Match, Magic Tea, Magic Vines, Magus: In Search of Adventure, Margrave Manor 2: Lost Ship, Mayawaka, Megaplex Madness: Summer Blockbuster, Mevo and the Grooveriders, Money Tree, Mushroom Age, My Kingdom of the Princess, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Mystic Emporium, Mystic Inn

P: Perfect Tree, Photo Mania, Picket Fences, Plant This!, Plantasia, Plumeboom: The First Chapter, Primate Panic

R: Roller Rush

S: Sally’s Spa, Scuba in Aruba, Success Story, Superior Save, Supermarket Mania, Sushi To Go Express

T: Tasty Planet, Teddy Factory, The Apprentice—Los Angeles, The Dark Hills of Cherai, The Great Tree, The Hidden Object Show: Season 2, The Mirror Mysteries, The Office, The Search for Amelia Earhart, The Sims Carnival BumperBlast, The Sims Carnival SnapCity, The White House, Tinseltown Dreams: The 50 s, Townopolis: Gold, Tradewinds Caravans, Treasure Masters, Treasures of the Ancient Cavern, Tropical Farm, Turbo Sliders, 3 Days: Zoo Mystery

V: Valerie Porter and the Scarlet Scandal

W: Wedding Dash, Wedding Dash 2: Rings Around the World, Wendy’s Wellness, Westward III: Gold Rush, Wild West Quest 2, Wonderburg, Wonderland Secret Worlds, World of Zellians

Y: Yard Sale Junkie, Youda Farmer, Youda Legend: The Golden Bird of Paradise, Youda Sushi Chef

Z: Zenerchi, Zuma Deluxe

Appendix B: Top 5 Downloaded Games from Each Genre of Top 5 Retailer Sites

A: Alexandra Fortune: Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago

B: Bejeweled 2, Big City Adventure: New York City, Born Into Darkness, Build-a-lot 4 Power Source

C: Cake Shop 2, Campfire Legends: The Hookman

D: Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, Delicious—Emily’s Holiday Season, Drawn: The Painted Tower

E: Emily’s Tea Garden, Enlightenus, Escape Rosecliff Island

F: Family Feud, Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie, Farm Mania 2

G: Gardenscapes

H: Hidden Secrets: The Nightmare, Hotel Dash: Suite Success

J: Jewel Quest Mysteries: Trail of the Midnight Heart, Jojo’s Fashion Show World Tour 3

L: Little Shop—World Traveler

M: Magic Farm, Mahjong Garden Deluxe, Mary Kay Andrews—The Fixer Upper, Mirror Mysteries, Mystery Stories: Island of Hope, Murder, She Wrote, My Kingdom of the Princess, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst

N: Nanny Mania, Natalie Brooks: Mystery at Hillcrest High

P: Penny Dreadfuls: Sweeney Todd, Poppit To Go, Princess Isabella

R: Real Crimes—Jack the Ripper, Rhianna Ford & The Da Vinci Letter, Romance of Rome

S: Sally’s Quick Clips, Samantha Swift and the Mystery of Atlantis, Skip-Bo Castaway Caper, Slingo Mystery, Sunset Studio

T: The Sultan’s Labyrinth: A Royal Sacrifice, The Treasures of Montezuma 2, Treasures of the Serengeti, 1001 Nights—The Adventures of Sindbad

V: Veronica Rivers: The Order of Conspiracy, Virtual City

W: Westward IV: All Aboard, Women’s Murder Club: Triple Crime Pack

Y: Ye Old Sandwich Shoppe

Z: Zuma’s Revenge! Adventure

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Wohn, D.Y. Gender and Race Representation in Casual Games. Sex Roles 65, 198–207 (2011).

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  • Gender representation
  • Video games
  • Casual games
  • Content analysis
  • Race representation
  • Gender stereotype