Sexual Harassment In Video Games

1278 Words 6 Pages
It’s been over twenty years since I furiously tore the wrapping paper from an oversized Super Nintendo box. Inside the next wrapped box, I found what would become my most beloved cartridge, Donkey Kong Country. As an eight year old, I didn’t notice that the only female character was unplayable, hyper-sexualized and used as a reward for reaching the save point. In fact, I spent countless afternoons collecting bananas and smashing barrels while completely unaware that my favorite game was contributing to one of the greatest problems facing the game industry today. But after nearly two decades of gaming, this issue has become startling apparent to me. As a female gamer, I feel completely isolated in a market that I’ve been supporting for the majority …show more content…
Sexual exploitation of the female body is prevalent in many video games and can have a negative effect on the self-efficacy of female gamers. From Candy Kong to Lara Croft, video games are notorious for their sexual, idealized versions of female characters. In their study, presented in the journal article, “The Effects of the Sexualization of Female Video Game Characters on Gender Stereotyping and Female Self-Concept,” Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz and Dana Mastro researched the frequency of sexualized female characters in video games and hypothesized some possible side effects of playing these characters. They reported that female characters are twice as likely as male characters to be shown in revealing clothing. Additionally, seventy percent of female characters in “Mature” rated video games are depicted with excess cleavage. Because female characters are significantly more likely to be sexualized in video games, these researchers designed an experiment to determine if playing these characters would have a negative …show more content…
A lack of well-developed playable female characters is discouraging and makes female gamers feel underrepresented. According to “Why Does Sexism Persist in the Video Games Industry” published by BBC news, several studies indicate that only fifteen percent of playable characters are female. The article explains that this is a figure that has remained unchanged since the early 1990’s (Gittleson). In two decades the representation of women in video games has not changed and yet the population of video gamers has changed dramatically. According to this same article, multiple surveys and studies are showing that women make up forty-eight percent of the overall gamer population! And yet the gaming industry continues to release games without strong, playable female leads. In fact, of the top twenty-five best-selling videogames of 2013 only four percent of the main characters were female (Gittleson). I don’t believe this statistic is correlated to a lack of demand for female-led video games; I attribute it to a lack of supply. As a female gamer, I know how disheartening it is to play exclusively male characters because there are no female options available. It is a constant reminder that there is still a discrepancy between what women are capable of and what popular media feels they are capable of. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to support a system that shows little

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