Sex Roles

, Volume 38, Issue 5–6, pp 425–442 | Cite as

An Examination of Violence and Gender Role Portrayals in Video Games: Implications for Gender Socialization and Aggressive Behavior

  • Tracy L. Dietz


Using content analysis, this research examinesthe portrayal of women and the use of violent themes ina sample of 33 popular Nintendo and Sega Genesis videogames. It is proposed that video games, like other media forms, impact the identity ofchildren. This analysis reveals that traditional genderroles and violence are central to many games in thesample. There were no female characters in 41% of the games with characters. In 28% of these, womenwere portrayed as sex objects. Nearly 80% of the gamesincluded aggression or violence as part of the strategyor object. While 27% of the games containedsociallyacceptable aggression, nearlyhalf included violencedirected specifically at others and 21% depictedviolence directed at women. Most of the characters inthe games were Anglo.


Social Psychology Content Analysis Aggressive Behavior Video Game Gender Role 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, K. L., & Ware, N. C. (1989). Sexism and the English language: The linuistic implicatins of being a woman. In J. Freeman (Ed.), Women: A feminist perspective (4th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Babbage. (1995). EGM's hot top tens. Electronic Gaming Monthly, 68, 44.Google Scholar
  3. Bialeschki, M. D. (1990). The feminist movement and women's participation in physical recreation. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 61, 44–56.Google Scholar
  4. Bell, S. T., Kuriloff, P. J., Lottes, I., Nathanson, J., Judge, T., & Fogelson-Turet, K. (1992). Rape callousness in college freshman: An empirical investigation of the sociocultural model of aggression towards women. Journal of College Student Development, 33, 454–461.Google Scholar
  5. Brabant, S. & Mooney, L. (1986). Sex-role stereotyping in the Sunday comics: Ten years later. Sex Roles, 14, 141–148.Google Scholar
  6. Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and supports for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 217–230.Google Scholar
  7. Cahill, S. E. (1994). And a child shall lead us? Children, gender and perspectives by incongruity. In N. J. Herman & L. T. Reynolds (Eds.), Symbolic interaction: An introduction to social psychology. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Cantor, M. G. (1987). Popular culture and the portrayal of women: Content & control. In B. B. Hess and M. M. Ferree (Eds.), Analyzing gender: A handbook of social science research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, V. W. (1985). Women in popular music: A quantitative analysis of feminine images. Sex roles, 13, 499–506.Google Scholar
  10. Davis, A. J. (1984). Sex-differentiated behaviors in non-sexist picture books. Sex Roles, 11(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
  11. Dominick, J. R. (1984). Videogames, television violence, and aggression in teenagers. Journal of Communication, 34, 136–147.Google Scholar
  12. Durkin, L. (1985). Television and sex role acquisition I. British Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 101–113.Google Scholar
  13. Fagot, B. I. (1984). Teacher and peer reactions to boys' and girls' play styles. Sex Roles, 11, 691–702.Google Scholar
  14. Ferree, M. M. (1990). Beyond separate spheres: Feminism and family research. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 866–884.Google Scholar
  15. Freeman, J. (1985). Growing up girlish: The social construction of the second sex. In W. Feigelman (Ed.), Sociology: Full circle (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  16. Gamson, W. A., Croteau, D., Hoynes, W. & Sasson, T. (1992). Media images and the social construction of reality. Annual Sociological Review, 18, 373–393.Google Scholar
  17. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M. & Signorielli, N. (1986). Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Goffman, E. (1979). Gender advertisements. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  19. Herman, D. F. (1989). The rape culture. In J. Freeman Women: A feminist perspective (4th Ed). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Hickman, C. A., & Kuhn, M. H. (1956). Individuals, groups, and economic behavior. New York: Dryden Press.Google Scholar
  21. Katz, P. A., & Boswell, S. (1986). Flexibility and traditionality in children's gender roles. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 112, 103–147.Google Scholar
  22. Kolbe, R., & LaVoie, J. C. (1982). Sex-role stereotyping in preschool children's picture books. Social Psychology Quarterly, 44, 369–374.Google Scholar
  23. Lande, R. G. (1993). The video violence debate. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 44, 347–351.Google Scholar
  24. Mead, G. H. (1934, 1962). Mind, self, and society, C. Morris (Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Merriam, E. (1968). We're teaching our children that violence is fun. In O. N. Larson (Ed.), Violence and the mass media. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  26. Milkie, M. A. (1994). Social world approach to cultural studies: Mass media and gender in the adolescent peer group. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 23, 354–380.Google Scholar
  27. Ogletree, S. M., Williams, S. W., Raffeld, P., Mason, B., & Fricke, K. (1990). Female attractiveness and eating disorders: Do children's television commercials play a role? Sex Roles, 22, 791–797.Google Scholar
  28. Purcell, P., & Stewart, L. (1990). Dick and Jane in 1989. Sex Roles, 22, 177–185.Google Scholar
  29. Radecki, T. E. (1990). Television promotes teen violence. In J. Rohr (Ed.), Violence in American: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.Google Scholar
  30. Scott, D. (1995). The effect of video games on feelings of aggression. Journal of Psychology, 129, 121–132.Google Scholar
  31. Thomas, M. H., & Drabman, R. S. (1975). Toleration of real life aggression as a function of exposure to televised violence and age of subject. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 21, 227–232.Google Scholar
  32. Thorne, B. (1986). Girls and boys together... but mostly apart: Gender arrangements in elementary schools. In W. Hartup & Z. Rubin (Eds.), Relationships and development. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Trepanier, M. L., & Romatowski, J. A. (1985). Attributes and roles assigned to characters in children's writing: Sex differences and sex-role perceptions. Sex Roles, 13, 263–272.Google Scholar
  34. Valois, R. F., McKeown, R. E., Garrison, C. Z., & Vincent, M. L. (1995). Correlates of aggressive and violent behaviors among public high school adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 16, 26–34.Google Scholar
  35. Wilder, G., Mackie, D., & Cooper, J. (1985). Gender and computers: Two surveys of computer-related attitudes. Sex Roles, 13, 215–228.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy L. Dietz

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations