Video Games and Gender

Research analysis of Michelle Zorrilla’s, Video Games and Gender

“Video games have long been known as a male-dominated media, including in the terms of market audience, player base, and character representation in game. Research concerning gender representation in video games often focuses on a few key points of how men and women are depicted differently: frequency and play ability (ability to play a male character versus a female character), physical abilities, role in the game, and physical representation (in terms of body, attire, etc)” – Zorrilla, 2011.

Zorrilla takes the general observation that at face value, video games seem to have more male characters, especially playable characters, and that female representation is often limited and bound to rules that seem to portray that these characters are there for male consumption. Assembling quantitative data, Zorrilla provides an array of sources that reinforce the assessment that men are more accurately and more commonly featured in video games. The quantitative data sources are clearly referenced with their limitations and purpose, as for example one source only examined sources that seemed to authoritative texts on the game industry, while other examined the industry as whole, including actually playing games.

In terms of theory, Zorrilla lists two forms of thinking that is shaping her research. Theory one is uses and gratifications, suggesting that maybe the reasons why there are more is because men turn to this media for this sort of representation. The other is cultivation theory and the idea that perhaps this media specifically is socializing the demographic with these ideals, and that ultimately perhaps video games is a representation of a certain facet of life. These theories, according to Michelle Zorrilla, haven’t been applied to gaming the same way the have to other mediums but that evidence for these theories may be present in video games.

Zorrilla focuses on four main points of reference when talking about the inequality of gender representation in video games. The first being game representation and in general game and game article representations. This specifically uses quantitative data to form statistics about whether representations are weighted. The next is effects on gender from video games which specifically relates to the cultivation theory and the idea that people learn from video games. Difference In Play specifically tackles the difference between playing a male and female and whether these are different and what that means in terms of equality and representation. Player representations researches the differences between how men and women represent their selves in video games via player generated playable characters, seen in the likes of World of Warcraft and other MMO’s.

Michelle Zorrilla provides a clear and concise conclusion to her research. “Since their onset forty years ago, video games have become an integrated and ubiquitous part of American and other cultures. While it is known, and well-supported, that video games are a male-dominated media, this may be changing.” Ultimately the research does the subject matter justice with no breach of ethics and depth of research. If there were to be anything at fault with the research it would be with the presentation, as the website it has been designed is oddly designed.

Zorrilla, M. 2011, Video Games And Gender, viewed 18 April 2015, http://radford.edu/~mzorrilla2/thesis/index.html.

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