What Do Boys Think Of Over-Sexualized Women In Video Games?

What boys think of over-sexualized women was the subject of an exploratory survey on behalf of Time magazine. The study included 1,400 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 and was conducted by Rosalind Wiseman, Charlie Kuhn, and Ashly Burch (Borderlands 2, Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?). The survey presented some interesting statistics and featured two kids giving their thoughts in the just over one minute long video.

The depiction of women in video games, their role in development, and the number of women video game consumers are still the hot topics of an industry-wide movement to make video games less objectifying and more inclusive, appealing to everyone. Wiseman posits that both boys and girls are fed up with the objectification of women in video games and her very short article in Time showcases the results of her work along with Kuhn and Burch.

The key figures Wiseman presents to her readers at Time revolve around what boys think of over-sexualized women juxtaposed with assumptions from what she claims to be the viewpoint of video game developers and publishers.

  • 47 percent of middle school boys and 61 percent of high school boys agreed or strongly agreed that female characters are treated too often as sex objects
  • 70 percent of girls and 78 percent of boys said it doesn’t matter the gender of the protagonist

The survey also asked what kinds of games girls like to play. Twenty-six percent preferred first person shooters, 36 percent preferred role-playing games and 17 percent preferred sports games. These three genres are historically aimed at the male demographic as the majority of the people who play them are male.

The two 13-year-old children featured a young girl decrying Kate Upton’s lack of clothes in Game of War and the boy commenting on Mortal Kombat(though why a 13-year-old is playing M rated Mortal Kombat is another discussion for another time) and the lack of clothing on some of the fighters. The presentation goes to include game play clips from titles that have featured prominently in the debate of over-sexualization of women in video games such as Dragon’s Crown(Vanillaware, 2013).

One interesting statistic that Wiseman gave was that very few of the kids surveyed knew about the “GamerGate” controversy that engulfed the video game subculture, which the Inquisitr has previously covered. The movement, in a nutshell, revolved around hostility toward women in the video game industry both as consumers and developer,s as well as transparency between the video game press and developers. Given the massive exposure within the video gaming news circles to the “GamerGate” movement in the last year, it paints an interesting picture of the exposure of the movement outside of the vocal personalities within the video game industry that included both progressive and conservative points of view.

The space of one article is not enough to give a proper overview, much less a detailed analysis on the history of over-sexualized women characters in video games much less the effect it has on boys and their view of over-sexualized women. The earliest video games have shown women in, as what can be obviously described as, sexual objects (Custer’s Revenge, Mystique, 1986) or powerful characters capable of taking down legions of monsters and bad guys (Aliens, SquareSoft, 1987 — Japanese-only release). It is a fair statement to make that a great number of video games are aimed at a male audience (see the genres listed above) and were designed and marketed as such. Exceptions can be found throughout the industry’s history with notable examples such as Samus Aran in Metroid (Nintendo, 1986).

As an exploratory survey, there are many things we do not know about the poll that may or may not be important: How were the children chosen? What area and demographic? How are the results calculated? How were the interviews conducted? What order were the questions asked? These are all things that we may never know, but presents interesting tidbits for thought that we should be taking note of. Although the better question might be, “How can the parent better engage with their children and the video games they play?”

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