Sexism in Video Games Research Paper



Throughout the history of video game creation, the creators have pandered to men's interests over women's, which promotes the idea that women do not play video games or are only interested in beauty, fashion, or cooking, which is untrue. Video games have a player base of 41% of women and 59% men. Games only being marketed to men and gaming communities excluding women are causing this 18% difference. In voice chats or forums, women are harassed strictly for their gender, with men forcing their beliefs and thoughts about women on these players constantly. Sexism is rampant in the community, and the video game producers are complicit. Producers of games explicitly show gender stereotypes in most games; men are always the main characters, the heroes, the ones with authority. The majority of games have a man as the main character, with all the supporting characters with substance also being men. In contrast, women are reduced to lazy writing, with most characters just being superficial and lacking anything under the surface of their looks, which pushes the narrative that women lack originality and personality and need a saviour or a man to support them. Women are physically created and designed in games for the male gaze; in some instances, they are just in the plot to look pretty or sexual for the players, not to add anything to the storyline. Powerful women in games are often sexualized throughout armour creation, which again reduces them down to nothing but a sex object that can cause young players to believe women are here for men to look at and sexualize. 

Additionally, voice chats and streaming communities are even more explicit in their gender stereotyping. If a woman goes into a video game voice chat, they get harassed and told to "go back in the kitchen" or "go clean something," as well as being cursed out, excluded and belittled. Sexual harassment is also prevalent, and women often share these experiences in these communities, furthering the idea that women are just objects. Women who stream on Twitch (an online streaming platform for video games) often have people insulting them more than men. They are looked down upon and told they only made it because they are pretty, even if she is high-ranking in her game. These instances push women into a box of the inability to like or be good at anything that is not part of her stereotype. Vocalizing that a woman is only successful if she is beautiful, as a woman is seen as nothing except her appearance. Women are often not seen as being the main character or the hero; she always needs to be saved by a man.

Moreover, if a girl grows up in these communities, her vulnerable brain can be harmed and swayed into having her viewpoint of women as being lesser than men just due to their gender. Video game producers and communities stereotype masculinity as being "heroes," "saviours," "powerful," "aggressive," "soldiers," and "fighters." Meanwhile, women are "pretty," "comforting," "cute," reducing them down to nothing of substance. Femininity is put down and seen as lesser than masculinity, portraying women as being unable to have authority; there are no women as police officers or politicians throughout games. I understand in games that are trying to be historically accurate, as women were not soldiers at the time. However, if it's based in the current time, there is no reason why there are no women in positions of power other than their sexist stereotype. These instances can further promote these gendered traits and roles and leave men with a sense of superiority over women due to their gender stereotype being favoured and lacking the superficiality prevalent in women's stereotypes. I started playing games and being involved in gaming communities when I was 10. Not having female main characters or a supportive, inclusive gaming community harmed me mentally. I was thrown into sexist and toxic bubbles of people who would declare women as less than men. Several young people never grow out of these toxic mindsets promoted by the gaming industry and are left with a stain on their vulnerable developing brain, which can cause them to grow up with a sense of supremacy over women that can follow them throughout their life.