Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

A recent study coming out of Stanford is claiming that there’s a scientific connection between sexist video games and rape. Honestly, the study is more about a connection between video games and self-objectification, but we’ll go with that they’re claiming for right now.

A sample of the sexualized avatars used in the study

The study evaluates shifts in perspectives on rape culture and physical embodiment after playing with sexualized in-game avatars. The research group went about examining these shifts by having groups of female gamers play with highly sexualized avatars and then having them answer questions regarding views on rape and sexism. A control group of female gamers playing with non-sexualized avatars were used in comparrison to those with the sexualized avatars. The study found two things: The first, that gamers who were playing with sexualized avatars were more likely to give into myths about victim-base rape culture and that, two,  when the groups were playing with characters that mirrored themselves (including having their real life faces posted on the characters bodies) the proponents were  even more likely to give into victim-blamed myths about rape.  What the research contends is that gamers embody characteristics of their avatars, which alter their real-world perspectives as players with more sexualized avatars were reported as having much more body related thoughts than those without sexualized avatars. This would contend that sexualized avatars create more self-objectification than non-sexualized avatars.

What’s this mean? It would suggest that sexist female avatars and characters have negative effect on female gamers. Beyond the consequences of being more susceptible to myth about rape, which is what the study focuses on, the research seems to suggest that inaccurate representation of females in games have harmful effects on how female gamers are viewing themselves and females in general. While the study doesn’t go into the effects that sexist video game characters have on men, it does provide evidence that sexism in video games has effects on how gamers view women, which is certainly a great issue.  With a lack of accurate a fair female representations in the gaming world, the surplus of sexist and inaccurate video game females is showing to have more and more effect on female and male gamers alike.

 

I’m not really doing the research justice, so please go check out the link to the research study’s paper that was published in Computers in Human Behavior

Media Molecule Studio Director: “It takes women working on games for games to change”

Media Molecule Studio Director: “It takes women working on games for games to change”

In a recent interview on BBC Radio, Media Molecule Studio Director Siobhan Reddy addressed the issue of gender in the gaming industry. For anyone who doesn’t know of Media Molecule’s work, they’re the studio behind the real-time sock puppet life-simulator that is “Little Big Planet”

“We have a lot of women within the industry who run studios and pack a mean punch, the influence of women within the industry is pretty great, but we need to see that on the game design and programming side as well.”

What Reddy refers to is the lack of female representation in gaming, be it through the lack of female protagonist or the lack of industry focus. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, with female gamers making up nearly 50% of the gaming population, it’s certainly time for the industry to take notice and start making accurate representation of females in games and making more games that appeal to females and both males and females.

Reddy herself is in a small majority, as most studios are still run by males and the gaming industry in general is a male dominated one.   She believes by empowering females to design and make games that the gaming industry will change for the better. We’ve certainly seen the call for this in other avenues, such as the girl scouts promoting young girls to design video games.

“It takes women working on games for games to change. I know there are all sort of discussions about where it is now and where it has been but I’m interested in where it’s going… particularly like the type of things we’re making at Media Molecule and lots of other studios are making, games which are for both genders and all ages.”

So who knows, will these call for more females to enter the gaming workforce make for diverse and fair games? One can hope. Meanwhile, we can all make our Sackboys as awesomely feminine as we want.

Neat.

 

ESA: 2013 Data on Video game Consumption

The Entertainment Software Association, one of the foremost collectors of data on the video game industry, has released their 2013 data about video game consumption and use. It’s some pretty nifty information on gamers, their buying habits, and their make-up. In terms of sociology and video games, this is the bee’s knees (That’s a good thing, right?)

Let’s talk about some of the more interesting findings.

58% of American play video games:Look to your left, look to your right. Chances are the person sitting next to you is a gamer. This means that gamers are no longer in the minority. Like it or not, if you’re an American you’re most likely at least a little bit of a gamer. While this statistic doesn’t go into how it defines gamers, it shows that playing video games is now a hobby or activity that most Americans partake in.

45% of Gamers are female:gen Video games are no longer a boys club, unless you’re a game like “Bully”..then you kind of are. Females are increasingly making up a half of the gaming populations, which means that they are no longer a demographic developers can ignore.

Also interesting: The percent goes up a little when looking at “who buys video games more”. What this might mean is that guys, moreso that girls, pirate games more.

The Average age of a gamer is 30: Sorry kids. You’re no longer the key demographic for video games (You haven’t been for while). The average age of a gamer has gone up in recent years. Why? We’re seeing the first generation who grew up with the second wave of video game consoles growing up, and they’re the ones with disposable income.Tricks are still for kids, so take solace in that.

Card/Board Games make up most of online games played:World of War Craft who? typeCard games and other more traditional games make up the most online games played. Why? Most likely online gambling, but it is interesting. We don’t generally think of online poker or online gambling as “gaming” as there’s no real content to purchase or games to sell, but it’s definitely a big part of online gaming.

52% of Parents say that Video Games are Positive Parts of their kids lives: Contrary to a lot of the headlines that you’ll read about parents worrying that video games are negative to their children’s well being, the majority of parents believe them to be positive for their kids. Perhaps we’ll see the “VIDEO GAMES MADE MY 12 YEAR OLD PREGNANT” and “GAMES TURNED MY BABY INTO A MURDER” headlines disappear (They were never real).

Shooters/Action Games are still the most popular games:Americans like violence, and it shows in our video games. With games like Call of Duty still topping the charts, the most commonly bought video game is either a shooter or an action game. Cool story bro.

Video Games Sales are on the Decline

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Even though the number of gamers are growing, the sales of video games are coming down from their all time high. While this could mean it was just a burst of a bubble, other contributing factors could be the increase of mobile and free-to-play games on IOS and Android platforms.  Gamers are playing more, but spending less. This state doesn’t take into consideration the amount of money spent in game. Also, purchasing games is becoming more and more popular, most likely due to the importance of Steam and other downloadable services.

So there are some interesting facts from this year’s study. The ESA is made up of individuals from all over the gaming industries in very well known and popular gaming developers, so it’s a trusty sample of respondents coming from all over. For more stats and information about ESA, please visit their website for the complete report.

Is Nintendo Being More Gender Inclusive?

With E3 having wrapped up last week, we’re now left with the empty void of having to now wait for many of the games announced to actually come out. Of course there were a lot of headlines: Microsoft announcing ridiculous restrictions on their console, Sony relentlessly attacking Microsoft for their restrictions on their console, and then Microsoft reversing their decision on said restrictions. Fun stuff. Perhaps the least provocative at E3 was Nintendo, who chose not to do a formal E3 conference, but instead a Nintendo direct released online. While I could go on and on about what they did or didn’t announce, I’ll spare you the rant. However, one interesting thing to come out of Nintendo this year is the number of female protagonists in their showing this year.

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Of the games Nintendo Highlighted this year, most of the games featured female protagonists, or at least playable female characters. This comes as more of surprise, as many of the games with female protagonists are series that have traditionally had male protagonists only. Does this mean Nintendo is being more gender inclusive in their games? Have they heard the pleas of female gamers and well known female gaming critics like Anita Sarkeesian? Is the world going mad? SHOULD I SELL ALL MY VIDEO GAMES FOR CANNED BEANS?

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some of the games Nintendo previewed this year.

Super Mario World 3D

The newest Super Mario game to be announced, Super Mario World 3D features Princess Peach as a main playable character. This is the first time she has been playable in a mainline Mario platformer since the American Super Mario 2 on the NES in 1987, which was only a fluke because the game it was sprite swapped with “Doki Doki Panic” had a female character! Of course the game also features Mario and friends in Cat suits clawing around and meowing like cats, so…maybe they thought Peach would fit right in? The amount of furry drawings will be horrendous.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Returning to the franchise after being absent from Donkey Kong platformers since Donkey Kong County 3 in 1996 is Dixie Kong. She joins Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on their second outing from Retro studios.  Fans of DKC will already know what Dixie can bring to the table, as she was the starring character in both Country 2 and 3. As long as we don’t see that creepy Baby character that occupanied Dixie in DKC3, I’ll be happy. Also, I think there’s a healthy chance we’ll see her show her face in the newest Smash Brothers.

 

Pikmin 3

One of the bigger surprises is the inclusion of a female character in Nintendo’s Pikmin 3, which will release later this summer. Up until this point the franchise had only focused on Captain Olimar (and later joined by Louie) as he charted an unknown land were he assigns tasks based on the color of the pikmin’s skin. Brittany, seen in pink,  joins Alph and Charlie on the Pikmin planet for some adventure and countless death of Pikmin at the hands of other larger animals. We’ll see how she fares in a few weeks.

Beyond these main titles, many of their other games showed look to include playable female characters, including Mario Kart Wii U, The Wonderful 101, and Super Smash Brothers X.

So there you have it. Is Nintendo turning a new leaf on their perspective on female gamers?  Either way, it’s refreshing. As many analysts and gamers pointed out, companies such as Microsoft showed no games with female protagonists this E3, so Nintendo really is out in front this year. This is kind of new for Nintendo, as Nintendo has historically been a much more old fashioned kind of developer. Yes, they have had franchises with female leads (Metroid, Drill Dozer), but for their most popular franchises like Mario and Zelda they have typically relied upon female characters that are stereotypes or cliches. Perhaps with the advent of the Wii’s popularity in recent year they now know they can no longer ignore the population of female gamers.