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Study Shows Boys Want Better Female Representation In Video Games, Too

10 July 2015, 3:34 pm EDT By Robin Burks Tech Times
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A new study shows that boys are just as interested in playing female characters in video games as girls, and that they think video games too often treat women as sex objects.  ( Ubisoft )

Sexism in video games is a hot topic and often results in a lot of screaming, yelling, and unfortunately, threats to those speaking out about it.

To compound matters, we consistently assume that boys don't believe there's a sexism problem in video games. A new study conducted by Time shows just the opposite: boys do think women get the short end of the stick with their portrayal in video games.

Rosalind Wiseman, Charlie Kuhn and Ashly Burch did a study with over 1,400 middle and high school students across the U.S. They asked both boys and girls how they felt about gender representation in video games, as well as what kind of games they thought girls played.

The findings were surprising: 47 percent of the boys surveyed believe that women were far too often treated as sex objects in video game.

"If women are objectified like this, it defeats the entire purpose of fighting," said eighth-grader Theo of Mortal Kombat to the researchers. "I would respect the [female] character more for having some dignity."

When it comes to preference of a main character's gender, 70 percent of girls said it didn't matter, with a whopping 78 percent of boys stating the same. This suggests that boys don't care as much about the lead character being male, but that girls care more about their lead characters being female.

Researchers also found that girls don't just play "girlie" games and typically like all genres of video games, with 26 percent preferring first-person shooters, 36 percent enjoying RPGs and 17 percent liking sports games.

Researchers discovered that most of the kids they spoke with had no idea what Gamergate was — so we can blame the adults for that. Regardless, 55 percent of boys who called themselves gamers think that games need more female heroes, with 57 percent of the male gamers believing that women in games are often treated as sex objects.

This research obviously offers a change in perspective, particularly with the next generation of gamers. Gaming developers have already started making changes, though, and this year's E3 saw an onslaught of games featuring playable female characters in upcoming AAA titles.

Although Gamergate still makes headlines occasionally for the hatred spewed at female gamers, developers and critics, it seems that finally — the gaming industry is catching on.

 

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