Sexist Games Sexist Gamers
Is there a relationship between sexist games sexist gamers?
The news media enjoys frightening the bejebbers out of parents - it sells commercials. And for parents to find out the facts takes time - a scarce resource now a days.
Video gaming is always a topic of choice for the media. They are graphic, loud, and preferred by most teens. And with nearly every teenagers in the U.S. gaming (99% males, 94% female), video games become an easy scapegoat target for problems facing our society.
That's right. I am a gamer. Well, more like gamer-lite. And, I support teenagers in their gaming quests. At the least, gaming is enjoyable, entertaining, and harmless. At most, gaming is educational, enhances brain development, and is harmless.
Sexist games sexist gamers - a study
Yet, many video games are blatantly sexist in their design, contorting the image of females. This forces many parents of teen gamers to ask "If my teen plays games, like Dead or Alive or Ninja Gaiden with their over-sexualized female characters, will they be more likely to act sexist towards females?"
This concern from parents encouraged a group of researchers to ask similar questions:
Does increased video game exposure cultivate sexist attitudes?
Are sexist attitudes conducive to an increased engagement with video games?
Our society starts from the premise, based on Cultivation Theory, that the more teens watch television(media), the more likely that they will develop social views based on what they watch. The problem is that this perception developed from watching media is a misperception of reality - violence begets violence. Cultivation Theory is the primarily bases for the cautionary view our society has towards movies (Motion Picture Association of America), and television (TV Parental Guidelines).
Therefore, can we assume that when teenagers interact with video games that portray females as over sexualized characters in fighting games, the overuse of the damsel in distress trope, and/or the under- and misrepresentation of females in video games, that their perceptions of reality are skewed?
To my surprise, and probable agreement, the study found that sexist attitudes "were not related to the amount of daily video game use or preference for specific genres for both female and male players".
Gaining perspective on sexist games sexist gamers and other myths
As parents, please keep in mind that these studies involving the affects of video gaming on teens sexist attitudes are few and far in between. That said, the indicators are beginning to point to no affect on teens.
Here are other cultural viewpoints held by parents concerning gaming that need mentioning:
Teenagers that play video games that contain violence, become themselves violent. This is the largest myth with insignificant research for support.
Teenagers playing violent video games are more likely to commit violent crimes, thus forcing society to hire more police officers. While the first portion has little correlations research to support this view, the idea that the surge in hiring within law enforcement is correlated to violence in video gaming is totally unfounded - a myth.
Teenagers who play first-person shooter games, like Call of Duty, developed militaristic attitudes is also a myth perpetuated by society struggling to explain the reality of increased military spending, social violence, perpetual war.
Certainly some video games contribute little value to society and human development. To blame these entertainment products for the ills of Western society is a cheap shot and demonstrates a cowardly approach to addressing the real issues and problems our communities face everyday.
Resources - Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers? A Longitudinal Study on the Relationship Between Video Game Use and Sexist Attitudes; Johannes Breuer, Rachel Kowert, Ruth Festl, and Thorsten Quandt
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons