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Youth Exposure To Stereotypical Gender Bias In Video Games

1761 words - 7 pages

Playing video games has become an increasingly common activity for the youth world-wide; in contrast, this also results in a rise of concerns by the media and researchers about youth-engagement with video-games. This critical essay discusses some of the primary concerns of video-gaming, focusing primarily on youth engagement, from the age-group of 13-18, in relevance to the stereotypical gender-bias that exists within video-games. Many video games promote the passive role of women in our society relative to the dominant sex - men, thus, casting unjust roles and gendered societal expectations of women in our society. This is done by casting female characters in video games in subordinate roles, sexualizing the female body in the production and marketing of video-games in efforts to promote sales, and excessive brutality and violence directed towards females predominantly by males.
Video games have both a positive and negative impact on youth attitudes, behaviours and perceptions, as with other forms of media, and thus, it is important to understand the complications that arise alongside the growing numbers of youth playing video-games. According to Cambridge Dictionary, gender-discrimination is defined as the unequal treatment of a particular sex in contrast to the opposing sex which is based on gender-differences, predominantly, a situation where a female is discriminated by a male. In relevance to video-games, female characters are excessively under-represented and in majority, take only passive roles in relation to men. In a research experiment conducted in September, 2000, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’S) verdict concluded that there were more gender-neutral or unidentified gender variations, such as animals, or aliens, than there were women posed as exclusive characters in video-games. It is not surprising that female characters are insignificant when only one out of four characters in video-games is female. The subordinate roles of females, as “passive” are also emphasized on game box-art, used solely for the purpose of increasing revenue and marketing. A majority of video-games, 42%, consisted of male characters solely, with only a quarter displaying females and males collectively, and another quarter displaying inanimate objects, animals, or extra-terrestrial characters, subsequently, 7% of games displayed female-characters without the presence of men as leading characters. Furthermore, according to Dietz (1998), in a research experiment of 33 Nintendo and PlayStation video-games, female characters, albeit rare, played side-roles in video-games or as the ‘damsel in distress,’ constantly needed a dominant, aggressive, male counter-part to aid to her rescue. This, ‘rescue the princess’ notion sets females as passive partners in relation to male-characters. This stereotype promotes negative youth-interpretations of gender-variations as it misrepresents gender-differences and further states that women are unable to play roles that...

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