Women at Play Essay

1908 Words 8 Pages
Women are playing more video games than ever before. Traditionally, video games were considered to be a predominantly male leisure activity1,2. However, with the introduction of new technologies, designs, platforms and distribution channels, video games have become more accessible and enjoyable for audiences beyond the traditional ‘teenage male’ demographic 1. This paper examines both the historic and current research on gender in gaming and the emerging trends within the gaming industry.
Recent studies show that woman, in addition to the general public are gaming in ever increasing numbers. A 2011 Entertainment Software Association (ESA) survey shows that currently 42% of all game players are female3. Although this rise strongly coincides
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By relying heavily on older findings and methods, misconceptions about female gamers have long been able to prevail within the field. Modern approaches are breaking away from traditional studies which looked predominantly at the mechanical differences between men and women, and are instead focussing their attention on accessibility and cultural differences.
Traditionally, the image and portrayal of women in video games is one of the most popular issues to examine. Regardless of being sexually-oriented or not, most video games feature hyper-sexualised female characters6. Though applicable to the wider media at large, many studies support the notion that sexually themed video games and their subsequent display of female objectification increases the likelihood for males to behave inappropriate toward woman in social situations 6,7. However, the negative effects of hyper-sexualisation and gender stereotyping are not limited to men. Research on women exposed to similar game characters and stereotypes concluded that women exposed these characters were more likely to demonstrate a negative self-concept than women exposed to non-sexualized characters8. Although there has been a significant rise in the amount of strong/ independent female characters in the past decade (a trend aptly named the “Lara Phenomenon”9 after the Lara Croft character popularized by the ‘Tomb Raider’ game series) there has not been a significant…