Video games promote sexism

Every year, there always seems to be a new, more popular video game — Fortnite, Call of Duty, League of Legends. The list only continues. As these games develop, controversy regarding the effects of them arise, but one effect outweighs the rest: their promotion of sexism, a disastrous concept which will be embedded in consumers.

The audience for these games tend to be adolescent males, so companies try to appeal to them. The result? Heavily sexualized women who are portrayed as helpless and provocative, an unrealistic expectation that creates unnecessary societal unrest. Satisfying these hormonal teenagers and young adults is damaging for both ends of the spectrum.

A study from Stanford University concluded that because of female depiction in these games, “women may be at risk for experiencing self-objectification and developing greater rape myth acceptance.” Likewise, women were found to be more self conscious of their own bodies after viewing video games with sexualized avatars.

Men are also negatively impacted. Another study, as quoted as evidence in the Stanford study, found that men who play video games that contain objectified female characters had a greater probability of sexually harassing women than men who did not play those games.

Even seemingly harmless games can be inherently sexist. For example, Princess Peach in the famed “Mario” series appears as nothing other than a secondary character, the “damsel in distress” with blonder hair, blue eyes, and a pink dress. Furthermore, in 13 out of 15 games, the objective of the game is to save her.

The effect on both sides is prominent and will translate into younger generations. This effect does not correlate core values, which could end up teaching the wrong idea to the generations of tomorrow, with the logic of that if a video game can get away with it, why can’t we? Video games need to adhere to their entertainment purposes, not try to downgrade women to nothing more than unattainable bodily standards, and convince men that it is okay to perceive them as that

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous Anon-y Moose

    February 9, 2019 at 7:04 am

    In regards to your article, I would like to respectfully disagree. In my opinion, the problem is not that video games are PROMOTING sexism, it is that they are Sexist. Not in general, no. But in certain regards they are. You mention female character objectification and that is entirely true and valid. But your point comes across as demonizing all games that have women. That isn’t the case, as Lara Croft would tell you herself, although I would admit that her outfit may be a tad revealing in the modern day. Moreover, you don’t use any evidence regarding your claim that women are portrayed as helpless and provocative to satisfy “Hormonal Teenagers” and young adults. Your obvious dig at the male gender around the age of 16 is unnecessary and detracts from your point. You do not synthesize your arguements and points into your article, making it less effective than it could have been. Overall, you make good points, but end up with the wrong conclusion, one which irks most gamers. I can say personally that I witnessed when the title of this article was read, and many gamer friends of mine became confused and partially angry not because your points weren’t correct, but because your conclusion was incorrect.

    Thank you for reading, and I hope you understand my positions. I am not a “hater,” just someone who wants to clarify a sensitive issue.

  2. David Sullivan

    February 25, 2019 at 11:12 am

    After reading your article I was initially angered and confused, but upon further inspection I believe the article, while certainly showing worrying correlations, does not paint the full picture.

    First of all, and perhaps most importantly, this article implies the false notion that video games are the cause of this issue, but research by the APAA found that this problem is equality present in other media like television and film.

    Secondly, and this is admittedly more of a nitpick, but the damsel in distress idea is not a video game thing at all. It may have been a popular video game trope in the past and even in some modern games, but the term itself is not from or more prevalent in gaming than in any other art form. The term itself was in fact coined as early as in 1692.

    I also feel the article itself could have been better at pointing out much bigger problems that exist related to the treatment of women in the video game community and industry, such as the sickeningly prevalent problem of sexual harassment over video game voice chat.

    I’d like to conclude by saying that video games are still growing both as an art form and an entertainment medium and over time will continue to mature in these areas as the medium itself expands it’s audience and expands into what I feel is an art form on an equal level to film.

    Some well written female characters in games for those interested include Bastilla, Juhani, and Kriea from the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic games. Undyne and Alphys from Undertsle, Madeline from Celeste (who also serves as excellent mental health representation), Alyx from Half-Life 2, and the Metroid Prime versión of Samus.

    Thank you and I would be happy to discuss the article more if there’s any desire to.

    -David Sullivan

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