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Gender Representations In Video Games Essay

3965 words - 16 pages

Literature Review:
Gender Representations in Video Games

Table of Contents
Gender Representations in Video Games 4
Men 4
Women 5
Impact of Gender Representations in Video Games 6
Men 6
Women 6
Relationships and Interactions between Men and Women 7
Current Limitations and Topics for Future Review 8
Conclusion 9
References 10

Many individuals believe that the terms sex and gender have the same meaning and thus are often used interchangeably. In actuality, these words have very different meanings. Sex describes the biological traits that make an individual male or female. Contrarily, gender expresses an individual’s psychological traits that are construed as ...view middle of the document...

Video games have become a popular leisure activity of late and their depiction of men and women via characters can bear just as much influence as other forms of media (Downs & Smith, 2010). Players can pick up on societal expectations of gender in terms of the appearance, behavior, and roles of characters in games. Similarly to how celebrities can be idols for many individuals, video game characters can take on the same role for players (Miller & Summers, 2007). Additionally, technological advances have made these characters more lifelike and therefore more influential. The industry has seen a shift from virtually sexually indistinguishable characters, such as Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man, to blatantly sexist depictions which can be noted in characters like Duke Nukem and Lara Croft (Dill & Thill, 2007). Male characters are the epitome of stereotypical masculinity, displaying unnaturally muscular physiques (Burgess, Stermer, & Burgess, 2007), overly masculine facial features such as a chiseled jaw line and facial hair, and exaggerated facial expressions exhibiting power and authority (Dill & Thill, 2007). Women are equally, if not more, gender stereotyped through hyper-sexualized imagery of abnormally large breasts paired with extremely thin waists, arms and legs (Burgess, Stermer, & Burgess, 2007) and sexually suggestive poses and facial expressions (Dill & Thill, 2007). Although many female characters who encompass this sexualized image can be as equally tough as their male counterparts, most are depicted as the damsel in distress or cheerleader (Yao, Mahood, & Linz, 2010). The effects of such stereotypical, gender focused portrayals of men and women include the development of sexist beliefs, negative feelings about self-worth (Behm-Morawitz & Mastro, 2009), and an increased likelihood to sexually harass (Yao, Mahood, & Linz, 2010). Additionally, relations and interactions between the sexes are impacted in various ways through depictions of genders in all types of media, including video games. Numerous pieces of literature have analyzed and conducted studies aimed at identifying gender stereotypes in video games as well as the impact these stereotypes have had.
Gender Representations in Video Games
Previous studies on gender representations across all types of media have shown that men and women were typically portrayed in a stereotypical manner. In terms of gender roles, men have been depicted engaging in sports and other physical activities and women were shown doing housework. Physical appearances were also stereotyped and found to be sexist as media tended to picture men with muscular physiques while women were highly sexualized with thin bodies and large breasts (Miller & Summers, 2007). Television, music, and advertisements are the type of media that have generally been associated with skewed gender representations. However as video game popularity continues to rise, the...

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