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Shirts vs. Skins: Clothing as an Indicator of Gender Role Stereotyping in Video Games


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This research uses content analysis to examine the portrayal of women in 47 randomly selected games from the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation console gaming systems. We suggest that video games, similar to other media forms, are sources of information that children and young adults may use to determine what behaviors and attitudes are considered appropriately masculine and feminine. This analysis revealed a significant sex bias in the number of male versus female characters found in the games and among the way in which the male and female characters were dressed. Of the 597 characters coded, only 82 (13.74%) were women. The Nintendo 64 games had the fewest number of female characters, and the majority of the female characters wore clothing that exposed more skin than the male characters.
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Mass Communication and Society
ISSN: 1520-5436 (Print) 1532-7825 (Online) Journal homepage:
Shirts vs. Skins: Clothing as an Indicator of Gender
Role Stereotyping in Video Games
Berrin Beasley & Tracy Collins Standley
To cite this article: Berrin Beasley & Tracy Collins Standley (2002) Shirts vs. Skins: Clothing as
an Indicator of Gender Role Stereotyping in Video Games, Mass Communication and Society,
5:3, 279-293, DOI: 10.1207/S15327825MCS0503_3
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Published online: 17 Nov 2009.
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MASS COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY, 2002, 5(3), 279–293
Shirts vs. Skins:
Clothing as an Indicator of Gender
Role Stereotyping in Video Games
Berrin Beasley
Department of Communications and Visual Arts
University of North Florida
Tracy Collins Standley
Department of Mass Communication
McNeese State University
This research uses content analysis to examine the portrayal of women in 47 randomly
selected games from the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation console gaming systems.
We suggest that video games, similar to other media forms, are sources of informa-
tion that children and young adults may use to determine what behaviors and atti-
tudes are considered appropriately masculine and feminine. This analysis revealed
a significant sex bias in the number of male versus female characters found in the
games and among the way in which the male and female characters were dressed.
Of the 597 characters coded, only 82 (13.74%) were women. The Nintendo 64 games
had the fewest number of female characters, and the majority of the female charac-
ters wore clothing that exposed more skin than the male characters.
In the aftermath of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) September 2000
findings that the film, music, and video game industries were inappropriately target-
ing adult-oriented material to children, it became obvious that parents and scholars
alike needed to more closely inspect the content of such material. Although the
FTC’s focus was on violence, and indeed many scholars have already asserted the
connection between violent media content and increased levels of aggression, many
times as indicated by aggressive play (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Anderson & Ford,
Requests for reprints should be sent to Berrin Beasley, Department of Communications and Visual
Arts, University of North Florida, 4567 St. John’s Bluff Road South, Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645.
Downloaded by [University of North Florida] at 07:57 19 April 2016
1986; J. Cooper & Mackie, 1986; Dickinson, 2000; Graybill, Strawniak, Hunter, &
O’Leary, 1987; Irwin & Gross, 1995; Kirsh, 1998; Schutte, Malouff, Post-Gorden,
& Rodasta, 1988; Silvern & Williamson, 1987), a second area of concern needed
to be addressed. Media content cannot only affect attitudes toward violence, but
has also been demonstrated to affect attitudes toward acceptable gender role be-
havior. Decades of research in other media content categories have established a
strong correlation between consumption of media content and attitudes toward ac-
ceptable gender-related clothing and behavior (Brabant & Mooney, 1986; Cantor,
1987; V. W. Cooper, 1985; Davis, 1984; Durkin, 1985; Kolbe & LoVoie, 1982;
Milkie, 1994; Purcell & Stewart, 1990). Although much attention has been fo-
cused over the years on the potential effects of film, television, and
music, the video game industry is still in its infancy as compared with that of the
previous categories. Little research has been directed at this heavily child- and
teen-oriented media industry (Anders, 1999; Brody, 2000), particularly in regard
to how video game content may indicate appropriate and acceptable gender
behavior to users.
Just as television has gained a foothold in the household and become a major
socializing factor in a child’s life (Berry & Mitchell-Kernan, 1982), video games
and game systems are steadily becoming household fixtures. The video game
industry has already won 30% of the U.S. toy market (Van Horn, 1999). More than
50 million homes have either a Nintendo or Sega system (Jehlen, 1994). Video
gaming is a profitable industry. In 1999, Americans bought more than 215 million
computer and video games, which calculates to more than 2 games per household
(Jenkin, 2000). The video-gaming industry earned between $6 billion and $9 bil-
lion (depending on sources) in recent annual sales, more than the $5.2 billion Hol-
lywood box office gross earned in 1999 (Dickinson, 2000; Jenkin, 2000; Van Horn,
1999). Because video games are designed for repeated play (the more deluxe
games are designed for more than 100 hr of play), the games cannot be considered
a one-time experience but an ongoing experience that reinforces its social mes-
sages (Jenkin, 2000; Signorielli, 1993).
Research indicates that the majority of video game players are young men
(Griffiths, 1991; Kaplan, 1983; Wiegman & van Schie, 1998). Reasons given for this
range from the idea that video games contain more masculine than feminine players
(Dietz, 1998; Gutman, 1982; Morlock, Yando, & Nigolean, 1985) to the idea that
men tend to outperform women on tasks involving visual and spatial skills (Eagly,
1987; Kiesler, Sproull, & Eccles, 1983) to the idea that because girls spend more time
in personal care, social interaction, and chores than boys, boys then have more time
to spend playing video games (Griffiths, 1993; Huston, Wright, Marquis, & Green,
1999). Huston et al. (1999) found that weekday time spent playing video games was
very close between the 2- to 4-year-old boys and girls in their study, but from ages 5
to 7, boys spent considerably more minutes playing video games than did girls. In a
study of video game usage among 357 seventh- and eighth-graders, Funk (1993)
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found that roughly one third of all boys and girls in the study reported playing
video games at home for 1 to 2 hr per week. Among the boys, another 29% played
between 3 and 6 hr per week. Only 15% of the girls said they played video games
at home from 3 to 6 hr a week. More than one third of the girls said they did not
play video games at all; that number was 12% for boys. Video games are the most
popular form of entertainment for boys and men between 12 and 25 years of age
(Kotick, 2001). The core gaming audience is 8- to 14-year-old boys (Brody, 2000).
According to a national survey of more than 1,600 households in 1999 regarding
video game purchases and uses, nearly half (44%) of console players, such as
those who play Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64, are 17 years of age or younger
(Anders, 1999). Sheff (1993) revealed that in “Q” ratings, which are designed to
indicate the popularity of public figures such as movie stars and politicians, Nin-
tendo’s mascot, Super Mario, was better recognized by American children than
Mickey Mouse.
The age of the core gaming audience, when combined with previous research
findings that indicate children can and do learn gender roles via the media, gives
rise to the question of how male and female characters are depicted in the PlaySta-
tion and Nintendo 64 console video games. Applying gender schema theory and
social learning theory to the way that children interpret what they see in video
games can help parents and researchers better understand the potential teaching
abilities of these media products.
According to gender schema theory, the process of applying learned sex con-
cepts to new information may be achieved through the use of schemata (Bem,
1981, 1983, 1993). Children form schemata of what behaviors, attitudes, and
clothing are appropriately masculine or feminine through accumulated experi-
ences (Wroblewski & Huston, 1987). Video games are just one source of many
for information about what is masculine or feminine. The contribution of video
games to the process of acquiring sex-based concepts is unknown at this time.
However, one may reason that if a child sees many female characters in typically
feminine clothing, such as the thong-bikini-clad characters in the wrestling
world, that will become part of his or her developed schema. Although gender
schema theory shows how an individual can arrive at a personal definition of gen-
der through internal processes, the question arises as to how the original
schemata form. Social learning theory is one way of explaining how children
learn about what are acceptable and unacceptable clothing and behaviors within
their society through the processes of reinforcement, observation, and imitation
(Bandura, 1965; Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963; Bandura & Walters, 1963;
Durkin, 1985).
Research that focuses specifically on video games and gender role acquisition
has been limited. Provenzo (1991) noted that the most popular games of the time
typically depicted stereotypic views of gender-appropriate behavior, where men
were often depicted as ruthless aggressors and women as victims of violence. His
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interviews with child players revealed that women are often perceived as holding
subordinate and even boring roles in electronic games. Much may have changed
in the 10 years following Provenzo’s research.
More recent findings are from Dietz (1998), who content-analyzed 33 Nintendo
and Sega Genesis video games popular in 1995 regarding the portrayal of women
and the use of violence. Dietz found that with 41% of the games, there were no
female characters. Of the games that included female characters, 28% depicted
the women as sex objects. Nearly 80% of the games included violence or aggres-
sion as part of the strategy or object of the game. Of those games, 21% depicted
violence directed at women. The weakness of Dietz’s work is that 6 years have
gone by since her analysis of the games. With Nintendo alone launching between
8 and 12 new games per year (Dorman, 1997), and with the advances in technol-
ogy, Dietz’s work is quickly outdated. Because of the rapid and unrelenting
advance of technology, video game research from as recent as 5 years ago is ques-
tionable in its application to modern game versions. PlayStation debuted at the
end of 1995 for $299 with games running $49, and Nintendo 64 debuted in the
United States at the end of 1996 for $199. These game systems have much more
advanced graphic capabilities than their predecessors, the Nintendo and Sega con-
sole systems. To accurately reflect the gaming industry, content analysis must be
frequent and thorough.
Indirectly related research by Funk and Buchman (1996) evaluated 364
fourth- and fifth-grade children’s views of gender differences in social ap-
proval for electronic game playing. The most telling findings were that the
boys tended to be more stereotyped in their attitudes about electronic games,
specifically when asked whether the fighting games were mainly for boys.
Boys were more likely to agree with the statement than the girls. Although this
study was indirectly concerned with gender role stereotyping, it did not at-
tempt to assess what specific gender behaviors users may learn from playing
video games.
Television and film are frequently thought of as being sources of behaviors to
be imitated, and although video games imitate the visual and audio elements of
films, they go a step further in allowing the media user to interact with the text
(Selnow, 1984; Wiegman & van Schie, 1998). This intense engagement with the
media product, in addition to the age of the product users and the knowledge that
children can and do learn stereotypical gender attributes from media products,
makes analyzing the gender role characteristics of video game characters an im-
portant part of understanding what children may be learning during their play
time. Clothing can be viewed as a prime indicator of sex roles in our society, even
in video games (Duncan, 1990; Riffe, Place, & Mayo, 1993). With this in mind,
we are interested in how the female characters are dressed in relation to the male
characters, a variable not given deep consideration in previous research con-
ducted on video games.
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To determine gender role stereotyping based on the presence or absence of female
characters and the types of clothing those characters were wearing in video games,
a content analysis was conducted. A population of video games was constructed
by compiling a list of the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation games available for pur-
chase at the time of the study, except for adult-only titles. The game titles were
supplied from a major national toy store. By listing only those games still avail-
able for purchase from the manufacturer’s supplier, discontinued titles were not
included in the population. The population of video games consisted of 227
PlayStation games and 114 Nintendo 64 games. A random sample was taken from
this population—every seventh game beginning with the fifth game in the list of
games compiled from the store was selected. These numbers were randomly se-
lected from a list of random numbers. A total of 48 games was selected for the
sample—32 PlayStation games and 16 Nintendo 64 games.
The games were rented from area video game stores in one large city, one
midsize city, and two small towns. Because not all the games that were in the
sample were available to rent, some alterations to the sample occurred. For
the Nintendo 64 games, one game was not available to rent and was dropped from
the sample without replacement. For the PlayStation games, six games were not
available to rent. These games were replaced by random selection. The games in
the original sample were removed, and replacements were drawn from the
remaining games. The originally chosen sample, along with the replacements, is
listed in the appendix.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board has determined ratings for each
video game. These ratings categories are EC (Early Childhood) for ages 3 and
older, E (Everyone) for ages 6 and older, T (Teen) for ages 13 and older,
M (Mature) for ages 17 and older, and AO (Adults Only) for content for adults. In
addition, some older games in the sample have the rating K–A (Kids Through
Adults). These games were included with the games rated E because they were
targeted to that group. Also, in some cases, the games had an RP where the rating
should have been, indicating that the rating was pending. None of the games in-
cluded in the sample lacked a rating.
Unit of Analysis and Coding
The unit of analysis for this content analysis was character. Character was defined
as a human, animal, or object within a video game that displayed human-like qual-
ities such as speaking, using tools, or making conscious decisions. The game was
started at the beginning, and each character within the first 20 min of game play
was coded. It was determined that playing the complete game would require more
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skill than the coders had at video game playing, so 20 min was chosen to give an
idea of what types of characters would be present within the game. Characters
were coded for the game system they appeared in (Nintendo 64 or PlayStation),
the game rating, the game category, gender, species, sleeve length, neckline, lower
body clothing, and cleavage.
Characters were also coded for the type of game in which they appeared. The
possible categories were team sports, individual sports, storyline, combat, classic
video game, board game or game show, television or movie based, and other. Team
sports were defined as any sport where members play as a team, such as football,
baseball, or hockey. Individual sports were defined as any sport where the person
plays as an individual, such as snowboarding, track and field, racing, or fishing.
Storyline was defined as any game that emphasized a storyline over all other ele-
ments. In other words, a storyline game had an objective other than just playing
the game. For example, Crash Team Racing emphasized a storyline by explain-
ing that if the player did not win all his or her races, the world would be con-
quered by aliens. Role-playing games, such as Body Harvest, were also included
in this category. Combat games, such as Battlestations, were defined as any war
simulation games. Classic video games were defined as those games that were
originally released as an arcade game. Examples of classic video games are
Pac-Man, Frogger, Asteroids, and Centipede. Board game and game show games
were defined as those games based on a classic board game or a television game
show such as Jeopardy, Clue, or Monopoly. Television and movie-based games
were defined as those games based on a television show, such as MTV Music
Generator, or a movie. Games based on game shows were not included in this
definition because they are in a separate category. Other was a category for those
games that did not easily fit into any of the other categories. Because there were so
few characters that belonged to the classic video game, board game and game show,
television and movie-based, and other categories, these categories were combined
for analysis purposes.
Characters were also coded for gender and species. Categories for gender were
female, male, and unknown for those characters whose gender could not be deter-
mined. Categories for species were human, animal, object, and other. Because
there were relatively few characters that fell into the animal, object, and other cat-
egories, and in some cases it was difficult to tell whether a character was an actual
animal or some alien shape, for analysis purposes the animal, object, and other
categories were combined.
Clothing of characters was also coded. The clothing was split into three parts—
the sleeve length, the neckline, and the lower body clothing. The categories in-
cluded in sleeve length were long sleeves or those sleeves stretching from the
shoulder to the wrist, 3/4 sleeves or those sleeves stretching from the shoulder to
past the elbow but not reaching the wrist, short sleeves or those sleeves stretching
from the shoulder to above the elbow, no sleeve or bare arms from the shoulder to
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wrist, and not applicable or unknown for characters that were not expected to wear
clothing or characters where the sleeve length could not be seen. Due to the small
number of characters wearing 3/4 sleeve length, these were added to the long
sleeve category for analysis.
The categories used for neckline were turtleneck or a collar that covers the
neck, high neck or a collar that reaches the base of the neck, midcollar or a collar
that is below the base of the neck but not showing any cleavage or pecs, low col-
lar or a collar low enough to show cleavage or pecs, other or any collar that does
not fit into any of the previous neckline categories, none for characters not wear-
ing anything on their upper body, and not applicable or unknown for those char-
acters that are not expected to wear clothing or where the clothing is unknown. For
analysis purposes, the categories of turtleneck and high collar were combined.
The purpose of this category was to ascertain how often the player’s eyes were di-
rected to the female character’s cleavage by having the character dressed in cleav-
age-exposing clothing (Duncan, 1990).
The categories used for lower body clothing were pants or clothing below the
knee and split into legs, shorts or clothing above the knee and split into legs, long
skirt or a skirt below the knees, short skirt or a skirt above the knees, other for
any lower body clothing that did not fit into any of these categories, and none,
not applicable, or unknown for those characters that were not expected to wear
clothing or the lower body clothing was unknown. None of the characters that
were expected to wear lower body clothing were shown nude. The purpose of
this category was to ascertain whether women were depicted in traditionally
female clothing, such as skirts, and even if they were, how often they were
shown wearing short skirts to emphasize the character’s legs and genital area
(Duncan, 1990).
Cleavage was also analyzed. The categories used for cleavage were flat, aver-
age, voluptuous, and not applicable. Female characters were coded according to
breast size. The coding was done by consensus between a male coder and a female
Intercoder Reliability
Three coders were trained for the study: two female researchers and a male
coder. Intercoder reliability was judged as acceptable with more than 80%
agreement on all categories. Intercoder reliability was tested on a randomly se-
lected subsample of seven games (14.89% of the sample). This provided 72
characters (12.08% of the sample). Agreement on the game category was
84.71%, with a Scott’s Pi of .83. Agreement on the sex category was 90.27%,
with a Scott’s Pi of .85. Agreement on the species category was 94.44%, with a
Scott’s Pi of .93. Agreement on the sleeve length category was 91.67%, with a
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Scott’s Pi of .90. Agreement on the neckline category was 88.89%, with a Scott’s
Pi of .87. Agreement on the lower body clothing category was 97.22%, with a
Scott’s Pi of .97. Agreement on the cleavage category was 88.89%, with a
Scott’s Pi of .85. Agreement was not calculated on the game system and rating
categories because there was no judgment call involved. The information was
clearly labeled on the game.
A total of 47 games was analyzed for character. From the 47 games, 597 charac-
ters were coded. Five of the games in the sample had no characters—two Nin-
tendo 64 games (Top Gear Rally 2 and Top Gear Overdrive) and three PlayStation
games (Gran Turismo, Frogger, and MTV Music Generator).
Characters were coded according to the game rating. None of the games were
rated EC. Of the 597 characters, 309, or 51.76%, came from games rated E; 144,
or 24.12%, came from games that were rated T, 128, or 21.44%, came from games
rated M. Sixteen characters (2.68%) came from games that were listed as rating
Of the 597 characters analyzed, 427, or 71.52%, of the characters were men,
82, or 13.74%, were women, and 88, or 14.74%, were of an undeterminable gen-
der. A chi-square goodness-of-fit test showed the difference between the number
of male and female characters (leaving out those characters whose gender could
not be determined) to be statistically significant, χ2(1) = 233.8, p< .05.
A chi-square cross-tabulation compared the gender with the game systems (see
Table 1). This was statistically significant, χ2(1) = 8.29, p< .05. Only 8.54% of the
female characters in the sample came from Nintendo 64 games, whereas 22.48%
of the male characters came from Nintendo 64 games. Although female characters
are vastly underrepresented on video games, the games for Nintendo 64 have the
fewest number of female characters.
A cross-tabulation that compared the rating with gender (see Table 2) was not
statistically significant, χ2(2) = 0.923, p< .05. This is important because it shows
that female characters are equally poorly represented in all ratings of games.
Game System by Gender
Game System Women % Men % Total
Nintendo 64 7 8.54 96 22.48 103
PlayStation 75 91.46 331 77.52 406
Total 82 100.00 427 100.00 509
Note. Percentages are column percentages.
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A cross-tabulation that compared game category with gender (see Table 3) was
statistically significant, χ2(4) = 20.34, p< .05. This significance is largely due to
the lack of female characters in team sport games. This goes hand in hand with a
lack of games that feature female team sports. The largest percentage of female
characters compared with male characters was in the individual sport category.
A large portion of the female characters in this category came from a single
game—the PlayStation game Sydney 2000, which featured a number of female
Olympic events.
Sleeve length was compared with gender in a cross-tabulation (see Table 4).
The result of this was statistically significant, χ2(3) = 34.15, p< .05. Nearly one
half of the female characters in this study were shown with no sleeves. Most of
these women were wearing clothing such as halter tops, tank tops, and bathing
suits. This, along with Table 5, points to the fact that women in video games are
shown less clothed than are men in video games.
A cross-tabulation of neckline without the categories of none, other, and not
applicable was conducted (see Table 5). The result of this was statistically signifi-
cant, χ2(2) = 95.35, p< .05. Of those characters shown with a low neckline, in
which cleavage or pecs were visible, 85.71% were women. This again supports the
claim that female characters are shown less clothed than men.
Game Rating by Gender
Rating Women % Men % Total
Everyone 37 14.23 223 85.77 260
Teen 18 15.38 99 84.62 117
Mature 21 18.1 95 81.9 116
Total 76 417 493
Note. Percentages are row percentages.
Game Type Category by Gender
Game Type Women % Men % Total
Team sports 14 8.54 150 91.46 164
Individual sports 29 27.36 77 72.64 106
Storyline 29 19.73 118 80.27 147
Combat 7 10.00 63 90.00 70
Other 3 13.64 19 86.36 22
Total 82 427 509
Note. Percentages are row percentages.
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A comparison of lower body clothing and gender was statistically significant,
χ2(5) = 130.98, p< .05. However, this comparison included skirts, which are
generally expected to be worn by women but not by men. When a comparison
was conducted of lower body clothing and gender, leaving, out all categories but
pants and shorts, the result was not statistically significant, χ2(1) = 1.71, p< .05.
The cleavage of female characters in the video games was also analyzed. Of the
71 female characters for whom cleavage could be seen on, 2, or 2.82%, were
considered flat, 40, or 56.34%, were considered average, and 29, or 40.85%, were
considered voluptuous. However, many of the characters that were considered
voluptuous were unrealistically large breasted.
A chi-square also compared rating by cleavage (see Table 6). Female charac-
ters in unrated or rating pending games were not included. There is a significant
difference among the ratings, χ2(4) = 9.90, p< .05. A greater percentage of
women in mature games have large breasts, whereas a greater percentage of
women in games rated for everyone have average breasts. However, here it is
worth noting that of those female characters with voluptuous breasts, 31% are in
games rated for everyone. The E category is subjected to women with unrealis-
tic breast sizes.
Character Neckline by Gender
Women % Men % Total
High neck 36 11.46 278 88.54 314
Mid neck 18 21.69 65 78.31 83
Low neck 24 85.71 4 14.29 28
Total 78 347 425
Note. Percentages are row percentages.
Character Sleeve Length by Gender
Sleeve Length Women % Men % Total
Long 32 39.02 149 34.89 181
Short 6 7.32 137 32.08 143
None 39 47.56 94 22.01 133
N/A 5 6.10 47 11.01 52
Total 82 100.00 427 100.00 509
Note. Percentages are column percentages.
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As can clearly be seen, there is considerable gender role stereotyping in video
games. Female characters are vastly underrepresented in video games available
for the two major console gaming systems at the time of the analysis. In fact, there
were more characters of indeterminate gender (88) than there were female char-
acters (82). The characters of indeterminate gender were predominantly animals
or aliens without speaking parts. Most of the female characters appeared in indi-
vidual sport and storyline games, and there were more female characters in
PlayStation games than in Nintendo 64 games. Not only are women underrepre-
sented in video games, but those who are present are less clothed than their male
counterparts. Female characters are more likely to be seen in low-cut clothing and
with bare arms than male characters, and nearly one half (41%) of all female
characters were big busted. More important, nearly one third (31.03%) of the
voluptuous women appeared in games rated E, which means that these games are
suitable for even young children.
The majority of female characters are dressed in such as way as to bring atten-
tion to their bodies, particularly their breasts, which carry strong sexual meaning
for the young boys who predominantly play these games. As social learning the-
ory and gender schema theory explain, children exposed to gender role stereotyp-
ing in the media, including video games, may develop those attitudes themselves.
When applied to the 47 games analyzed for this study, social learning theory and
gender schema reveal that the dominant theme of the games is the same—female
characters are unimportant based on the fact that only about one in four characters
are women, although one half of the world’s population is female. Furthermore,
those female characters that do appear in the games are big busted and dressed in
clothing that emphasizes their sexuality by drawing attention to their breasts.
Video games may be a fairly new media industry, but game designers should be
reminded that such obvious gender role discrimination in any media industry is
Game Rating by Female Character Cleavage
Rating Flat % Average % Voluptuous % Total
Everyone 2 6.25 21 65.63 9 28.13 32
Teen 0 0.00 7 53.85 6 46.15 13
Mature 0 0.00 6 30.00 14 70.00 20
Total 2 34 29 65
Note. Percentages are row percentages.
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This study had several limitations that should be corrected for further study. First,
every character was coded, regardless of his, her, or its importance to the video
game. This included characters that were seen in the introductory footage video
but were not available for game play. In future studies, characters should be coded
as to their importance in the video game. Although this study was concerned with
the number of female characters in the games and how their clothing defined them
as women, future studies looking at behavior are necessary. Further studies should
code what the characters are doing, whether they are engaged in dominant or sub-
missive behaviors, whether violence is committed or received, whether the char-
acters are heroes or villains, and whether the characters are active or passive.
Another limitation was the coding of the lower body clothing category. It was
not discrete enough to capture some of the nuances of female clothing designed to
draw attention to the lower sexual zones of the character’s bodies. For example,
many of the outfits that wound up in the other category were bathing suits and
thongs for female characters and tights for male characters.
In a related concern, for researchers interested in evaluating male gender role
stereotyping as indicated by clothing, the sleeve category could be troublesome.
Masculinity in men can be demonstrated through large arm muscles, which often
are shown off by wearing sleeveless shirts. It would be prudent then to include a
category about muscle definition and exposure.
Clearly, there is room for improvement in the area of video games as it relates
to gender role stereotyping. Continuing study should be conducted to watch the
video game market for improvements. As more girls and women begin to play
video games, one hopes more female characters in a variety of clothing styles may
be seen in these games.
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PlayStation Nintendo 64
Video Games in Sample
Ape Escape Banjo Kazooie
Battlestations Donkey Kong 64
Command and Conquer Retaliation Body Harvest
Contender Gex, Enter the Gecko
Crash Team Racing Madden NFL 2000
Dino Crisis Extreme G XG2
Frogger NBA Courtside 2 featuring Kobe Bryant
Jet Moto 2 Perfect Dark
Legend of Mana Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
MTV Music Generator NFL Quarterback Club 2000
Mortal Kombat Special Forces Rush 2049
NBA Live 2000 Shadowman
Tomb Raider II Turok 3 Shadow of Oblivion
Psybadek Top Gear Rally 2
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Top Gear Overdrive
Road Rash
Sydney 2000
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage
Syphon Filter 2
Thousand Arms
NCAA Football 2000
ECW Anarchy Rulz
WCW Mayhem
Vagrant Story
Saga Frontier 2
NHL Rock the Rink
Games Unavailable to Rent
MTV Andy MacDonal Saban’s Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
Echo Night
Gallop Racer
Mobil 1 Rally Champ
Trick N Snowboarder
Star Wars Dark Forces
Replacement Games
Gran Turismo None
Tigger’s Honey Hunt
Speed Punks
Barbie Race & Ride
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater II
Sammy Sosa’s High Heat Baseball 2001
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... The study found that the same gender tropes used in other forms of media were used in the narratives of games as well, especially sexual objectification, although female characters were under represented overall. Another method of analyzing is by measuring gender role stereotyping by observing the presence of women game characters as well as analyzing the clothes, specifically the differences between men and women (Berrin Beasley, 2002). The study found that female characters were vastly underrepresented, with there being more characters of indeterminate gender then female characters. ...
The issue of whether transgender people have fair representation in media, specifically gaming media, has been an area of study and debate, especially when it concerns the accurate representation of their identity. Often gaming content may include one or more transgender characters in the storyline and how they are portrayed determines the nature of their representation. Individual studies have been conducted to analyze various sample game titles, and their representation and outlook of transgender people, as well as the community itself. The purpose of this study is to compile relevant studies into a cohesive whole in order to further substantiate the hypothesis. Through a systematic review, the regressive nature of transgender representation in video games has been explored.
... The issues around gender representation had been prevalent in videogames from 70 the beginning of the medium. Beasley and Standley (2002) examine 47 randomly 71 selected games and conclude that "a significant sex bias in the number of male 72 versus female characters found in the games and among the way in which the 73 male and female characters were dressed" (p. 279). ...
In this study, we collect and analyze data from a massively multiplayer online game to explore the reflection of gendered profession bias in constructing the narratives and societies of a virtual world. Gendered professions emerge when gender bias or stereotypes designate a profession or a job to be more suitable for a certain gender. This type of bias can act as a gatekeeper, especially for women, to various job fields such as STEM. While in the physical world, superficial explanations can be offered for the gender divide for some jobs (e.g., the lack of female lumberjacks might be attributed to average upper body strength of genders, etc.), there is very little reason (physical or otherwise) for a similar gender divide to occur within the narratives of virtual worlds or societies other than real-life bias permeating to design decisions. We collect and analyze data from the popular online multiplayer game World of Warcraft (WoW) to illustrate how gendered professions bias affects the design decisions in the game and might contribute to reinforcing our real-life stereotypes.
... Female characters typically wear tight clothes, shorts, mini-skirts, and bathing suits (Robinson et al., 2009 characters. In addition to this, Burgess, Dill, Stermer, Burgess, & Brown (2011) and Beasley & Standley (2002) found that female characters are usually portrayed with unrealistically large breasts, thin waists, large, exposed buttocks, and long legs. Even though Face magazine featured Lara Croft as one of the most popular twentieth-century icons, many critics argue that Croft's character, with its exaggerate breasts, thin waist and with tough, dominant behaviour, is conceived to appeal to a male audience (Jansz & Martis, 2007). ...
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Modern video games are complex, diverse, immersive and pervasive, and their influence on society and people is far-reaching. Video games and their impacts were initially demonised, but over time research started assessing the positive effects of games on competencies and abilities connected to twenty-first-century skills that include cultural literacy. In line with this trend, this thesis examines how entertaining commercial titles, serious games, educational games and simulations can support players in learning and in acquiring skills that enhance cultural literacy. An analysis of the common trends for the skills and competencies needed for success in the twenty-first century ¿studied by UNESCO, the British Council, IBM, Google, LinkedIn, and the World Economic Forum, among other,¿ revealed that living in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world requires a new, updated model of cultural literacy. This thesis proposes such a model. A review was made of the recent literature on the impact and outcomes of video games, showing that video games can reinforce or weaken stereotypes; help to acquire cultural knowledge and develop intercultural literacy, socio-cultural literacy, cultural awareness, self-awareness, and the cultural understanding of different geopolitical spaces; and to some extent also facilitate the development of intercultural skills. The heart of the thesis is an investigation into the effectiveness of video games for tackling difficult social issues such as migratory movements and the refugee crisis. Two studies were conducted one quantitative and the other qualitative that obtained heartening results for producers of empathy video games. Many participants reported feeling more empathy and less rejection towards migrants and refugees, as well as being more motivated to actively help people in need. Additionally, a broad survey revealed the AAA entertainment game genres, characters, and in-game elements and features that digital natives find attractive and those they miss and would like in the future. The findings also confirmed that games produce not only fun but also a great deal of learning. The English language, the basics of informatics, strategic thinking, geography and history, teamwork, cultural knowledge, perspective change, and creativity are all learnt and reinforced during video game play. The evidence presented in this thesis suggests there is a demand for tools facilitating intercultural education. The high point of the thesis is the design of Chuzme, an educational digital game that focuses on raising cultural self-awareness and the acknowledgement of cultural bias in order to generate positive attitudes towards migrants, refugees and expatriates. In summary, this thesis supports the idea that video games facilitate the acquisition of cultural literacy and provides evidence on the cultural, social and communication bene¿ts of gaming that hopefully encourages scholars to actively integrate video games in their teaching practice. Keywords: games studies; intercultural communication, the impact of video games, games-based learning, cultural literacy
Characters in fighting videogames¹ such as Street Fighter V and Tekken7 typically reveal a phenomenon that we define as virtual enfreakment: their bodies, costumes, and fighting styles are exaggerated (1) in a manner that emphasizes perceived exoticism and (2) to enable them to be easily visually and conceptually distinguishable from one another. Here, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, including crowd-sourced surveys and analyses of game mechanics, we report on the contours of virtual enfreakment in those games. We specifically examine differences in character design across gender, national-origin, and skin-color lines. Disappointingly but not surprisingly, we find racism and sexism manifest as stark differences in character design by gender and skin color. This has strong implications because taking on the roles of these characters can have impacts on users in the physical world, e.g., performance and engagement, behavior, and understandings of others (Lim and Harrell 2015; Şengün 2015; Yee et al. 2012, Şengün et al. 2022a; Harrell and Veeragoudar Harrell 2012; Kao and Harrell 2015; Şengün 2014; Kocur et al. 2020). Although the differences are not always straightforward, female characters and darker-skinned characters (typically, characters of color) are enfreaked differently than their light-skinned male counterparts. Our results also reveal the strategic use of “unknown” as a country of origin for villainous characters. Through our mixed-methods analysis, we examine in detail how virtual enfreakment is influenced by sexism and racism, and our findings are compatible with information about the development history of the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises. However, we also find that recent characters designed in dialogue with developers from their regions of origin are some of the least enfreaked and most positively portrayed—suggesting the possibility of designing and deploying such characters for implementing anti-bias character designs within popular videos..
This research explored how gender portrayals in video games affect gender-related attitudes. Two hundred participants from the United Kingdom and Malaysia participated across three experiments, where the appearance and behaviour of video game characters were manipulated with regard to target (enemy) gender (Study 1), sexually explicit attire (Study 2) and level of character agency (Study 3). We found minimal evidence that exposure to gender-stereotyped content resulted in differential gender-related attitudes (implicit associations, hostile and benevolent sexism, or rape myth acceptance). However, Study 1 findings showed that individuals who played a first-person shooter with male enemies showed lower endorsement of some (benevolent) sexist attitudes (cf. control) and showed difference in game behaviour (cf. female enemies). Together, our results suggest that short-term exposure to video games containing female characters (sexualised, passive, or otherwise) does not consistently lead to the endorsement of negative gender attitudes.
While interest in esports is widespread across demographic categories, the gendered norms surrounding video game play have been replicated, resulting in a male-dominated space. Scholars argue that broadening representations of gamers is necessary to normalizing women’s presence in esports. As nongaming organizations enter the space, they have a unique opportunity to disrupt established norms through their representations of esports competitors. This study analyzes the representation of U.S. Army Esports (USAE) team members via official social media channels. USAE was created as a public relations tool to engage with a younger audience, redefine the public image of the Army, and recruit soldiers. Using a critical public relations framework and critical discourse analysis, we examine the discourse around gender and esports constructed through USAE’s representation of team members and the role of public relations practice in reinforcing or disrupting existing norms.
The purpose of the present study is to develop a scale for measuring pre-service teacher perceptions of gender stereotypes about computer game-based learning, and conduct a preliminary study to explore the reliability and validity of the scale. Data was collected via survey from 119 pre-service teachers enrolled in a mathematics methods class at a mid-western university. Results of data analysis provided strong support for the reliability of the scale and partial support for its validity. Consistent with our hypotheses, perceptions of gender stereotypes were negatively related to computer gaming experience, gamer identity, and intention to use computer game-based learning in future teaching practice. At the same time, perceptions of gender stereotypes were positively related to perceived barriers to computer game-based learning. Factor analysis suggested a four-factor structure pertaining to four aspects of gender stereotypes with favorable perceptions towards male gamers: intrinsic motivation, competency, confidence, and game compatibility.
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Abstract: Digital games represent a new media form dominated by men, either as characters or as players. The perception of digital games being “Boys’ Fun” has been denied by the latest research that points to the fact that women are increasingly accessing this medium. But, the analysis of digital games shows that gender roles appear in this media as real-world stereotypes. It means that there is discrimination against women who often have a passive role, whether they appear as victims or as sexual objects. When they are not damsels in distress helplessly awaiting their saviour or playing heroines, then, they are most often portrayed as rebellious beauties with oversized dimensions. The subject of this paper is female representation in digital games. Authors used content analysis of 30 digital games with female protagonists, published at J Station, to examine the female gender roles in such digital games. The aim of the empirical study is to demonstrate that the elements of gender discrimination are present in digital games and that they can lead to creation of harmful stereotypes against women. Key words: digital games, stereotype, gender roles, discrimination, female.
Using Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s concept of nudge (2008), this article transforms Stuart Hall’s notion of preferred reading (1973) into the concept of preferred playing to create a new approach to textual analysis appropriate for video games as interactive media. Markers for preferred playing as an alternative to more traditional close reading are discussed together with concepts and insights from contemporary game studios and game design regarding the medium’s different layers. Käesolev artikkel loob Stuart Halli (1973) eelistatud lugemise (preferred reading) käsitluse alusel eelistatud mängimise (preferred playing) kontseptsiooni, kasutades selleks Cass Sunsteini ja Richard Thaleri (2008) nügimise (nudge) mõistet, et luua uus lähenemine tekstianalüüsile, mis oleks sobiv videomängude kui interaktiivse meediumi analüüsiks. Koos mõistete ja uuendustega nüüdisaegsest ludoloogiast ja mängudisainist arutatakse eelistatud mängimise markereid kui alternatiivi levinumale lähilugemisele videomängu meediumi eri kihistuste uurimiseks. Artikli alguses on välja toodud varasemate kvalitatiivsete ja kvantitatiivsete lähenemiste problemaatika videomänguanalüüsis, mis on eriti märgatav siis, kui käsitletakse rassi, klassi ja soo kujutamist videomängudes. Kuna varasemates lähenemistes jääb tihti puudu objektiivsusest ning tihtipeale kujutatakse videomänge, vältimatult interaktiivset meediumit, ka liiga lihtsustatult, soovitan kaheosalist lähenemist videomänguanalüüsile. Alustuseks pakun ma potentsiaalsete tegevuste ja sündmuste kaardistamise videomängudes, võttes aluseks Fernández-Vara (2015) kontseptsiooni võimalusruumist (space of possibilities). Kuigi see aitab videomänge mõista terviklikena, ei piisa sellest siiski mängusiseste vaatepunktide ja ideoloogiate analüüsiks, sest need on tihti kodeeritud eelistama üht või teist valikut. Seetõttu loon ma Halli (1973) mõiste „eelistatud lugemine“ (preferred reading) alusel, koos selle alla kuuluvate vastanduva (oppositional) ja sobitava (negotiated) lugemise mõistetega, kontseptsiooni eelistatud mängimisest (preferred playing). Sel eesmärgil kasutan ma Thaleri ja Sunsteini (2008) terminit „nügimine“ (nudge), pakkudes välja, et videomäng ise markeerib ideaalse viisi enda mängimiseks. Eelistatud mängimine on seega domineeriv mängustiil, mis on tuletatud neist nügimistest, mida mäng mängijale esitab; vastanduv mängimine on mängustiil, mis tunneb need nügimised küll ära, kuid vastandub neile tahtlikult, näiteks lõhestava või etendusliku mängimise eesmärgil. Sobitav mängimine seevastu aga kaasab tihti eelistatud mängimist, kuid muudab seda vastavalt mängija soovidele. Selleks, et mõista, millised nügimised videomängudes moodustavad eelistatud mängimise, on vaja analüüsida videomängude erinevaid aspekte ja kihistusi. Nügimine on eriti tavapärane nn visuaalsete vaikesätete puhul, kuid esineb ka paljudes mängumehhaanika detailides, näiteks tasakaalustamises, keerukuses ja väljakutsetes, aga ka eesmärkides ja auhindades. Tähendusrikas tasemedisain ja žanri- ning narratiivielementide kasutamine kujundavad täiendavalt kujutluspilti ideaalsest teekonnast läbi videomängu sündmuste, mille põhjal saavad seega tuletada videomängu eelistatud mängimise nii mängijad ise kui ka ludoloogid. Kirjeldatud metodoloogia abil saab luua lähteteksti, analüüsimaks videomänge nii soo kujutamise osas kui ka näiteks rassi kujutamises, kuna alaesindatuse probleem on mõlema aspekti puhul tavapärane (Williams jt 2009). Kuna tegemist on kohandatava töövahendiga videomängude analüüsiks, saab seda vastavalt vajadusele kasutada ka koos teiste teoreetiliste lähenemistega.
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How viewers form dispositions toward narrative characters is a central question of affective disposition theory. Two routes are explained by current models: Schema activation, whereby viewers’ dispositions are based on perceived narrative role, and behavioral approbation, whereby viewers’ dispositions are based on moral approval/disapproval of behavior. What remains unclear is how competing character schemas function: Do they exert their influence in the same location of the serial process? Or, does the impact of schemas on disposition formation depend on the schema? The current paper builds on past work that experimentally manipulated schema activation and behavioral approbation with experimental inductions. We extend that past work by crossing its hero/villain-schema induction with another: character gender. After validating stimuli in a pilot study, our main experiment demonstrated that gender did not moderate hero/villain-schema activation; behavioral approbation, however, was more extreme for female characters. Theoretical implications suggest that various character schemas may have distinct roles to play in disposition formation, with these distinctions being unaccounted for by current theory. Practical implications suggest that female characters may elicit stronger positive/negative dispositions and, through outcome evaluation processes, narrative enjoyment. Thus, Hollywood’s current lack of female character representation is likely hurting their bottom line.
In this study of 278 children from the seventh and eighth grade of five elementary schools in Enschede, The Netherlands, the relationship between the amount of time children spent on playing video games and aggressive as well as prosocial behaviour was investigated. In addition, the relationship between the preference for aggressive video games and aggressive and prosocial behaviour was studied. No significant relationship was found between video game use in general and aggressive behaviour, but a significant negative relationship with prosocial behaviour was supported. However, separate analyses for boys and girls did not reveal this relationship. More consistent results were found for the preference for aggressive video games: children, especially boys, who preferred aggressive video games were more aggressive and showed less prosocial behaviour than those with a low preference for these games. Further analyses showed that children who preferred playing aggressive video games tended to be less intelligent.
This paper develops a theoretical framework for understanding how and what sports photographs mean. In particular, it identifies two categories of photographic features as conveyors of meanings. The first category is the content or discourse within the photograph, which includes physical appearances, poses and body positions, facial expressions, emotional displays, and camera angles. The second category is the context, which contributes to the discursive text of the photograph. The context includes the visual space in which the photograph appears, its caption, the surrounding written text, and the title and the substantive nature of the article in which the photograph appears. Using 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games photographs appearing in popular North American magazines, I show how these various features of photographs may enable patriarchal readings that emphasize sexual difference.
Examines effects of playing violent and nonviolent video games on children's aggressive ideation. Children played a violent or nonviolent video game for eight minutes. Provides initial support, at least on a short-term basis, for notion that the playing of video games affects children's aggression fantasies. (Author/DST)
44 men and 73 women, freshman college students, rated statements about video games. Analyses indicated those who played frequently were motivated both to master the games and to compete with others. Women who played infrequently seemed to have similar achievement motivation in general but less interest specifically in mastering the games.