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Year 13 - Media and Collective Identity 

 
Class Case Study: Female Identity in Gaming 

What are the main issues and debates to do with representation of 
females in the gaming industry? 

Name Source/Article used Main issues and Debates

Matthew https://www.theguardian.com ● Video games with female ​protagonists ​are the ​minority.
/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/ ● Females make up overall 52% (3 years ago this was 49%) of the gaming industry​ yet
52-percent-people-playing-ga they are considered a minority by society in the ​gaming industry.
mes-women-industry-doesnt- ● Being able to play as a female is general considered an optional extra by ​developers
know and ​publishers
● Only ​12% of game designers and 3% of programers in Britain are female.
● Females are often ​misrepresented​ as not being (real gamers). This often leads to
online abuse, especially in more violent games such as Call Of Duty.
● Video games are contributing to the world wide issue of ​underrepresentation​ of
women.
(-.-)

Eden https://www.theguardian.com ● In the study of about 1,400 US youths, 47% of middle-school boys and 61% of high
/technology/2015/jul/10/teena school boys agreed that women are treated as sex objects too often in games.
ge-boys-sexist-video-games ● Young people from across the US think women deserve a wider range of roles and
representation​.
● Assumption that the male teen demographic was the only one that mattered in the
gaming industry: bases much of it’s game and character design on these
assumptions
● 70% of girls and 78% of boys said it does not matter what gender the lead character
is

Hafiy https://www.weforum.org/age ● Games like Call of Duty Halo and Battlefield had always been thought as being only
nda/2018/06/women-in-video for boys and men.
-games-accept-it-or-don-t-bu ● In the recent trailer for the new battlefield, the creators have experienced backlashes
y-the-game/ by featuring a female character. Stated that
● However females nearly makeup half the gaming audiences,​ 45% of us gamers are
https://www.theguardian.com women.
/culture/2017/sep/06/fed-up- ● Women gamers are ​underrepresented​​ not only in terms of female characters but in
with-fantasies-for-male-teena game development.
gers-fixing-the-depiction-of-w ● Sexual harassment​​ is commonplace in online communities. In a survey conducted
omen-in-games on 293 women found that even after the game was over, they had still thought about
the sexist comments, jokes and threats.
● Traditionally, women have been sidekick, sexual objects or a prize.
● Animating playable female characters are seen as “alot of extra production work”.

Azza https://theconversation.com/ ● STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects are
more-women-are-becoming- considered male dominated and so are the careers associated with them. Therefore,
game-developers-but-theres- there aren't many female game developers which makes the ​hegemon​​ in the
a-long-way-to-go-79843 gaming industry, male.
● Gaming industry may not seem appealing to some females because of: ​unequal
pay​​, ​sexual harassment​​ and not being treated equally, such as being spoken over
in meetings.
● Because the gaming industry is dominated by males, when hiring and promoting
gender bias could play an important role.
● 15% of gaming developers are female in Australia is 2015-16
● 47% of gamers in Australia are female - more female gamers than female
developers
https://www.theguardian.com ● "The stereotype of the teenage boy playing alone in his bedroom is well and truly
/technology/2014/sep/17/wo dead"
men-video-games-iab

Afif https://www.theguardian.com . 52% of gaming audience is made up of women; the majority of people playing
/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/ games are women
52-percent-people-playing-ga ● Despite the number of female gaming audience, the number of women
mes-women-industry-doesnt- working in the gaming industry is still shockingly low. Only 12% of
know game designers and 3% of all programmers are women
. Newer games are breaking gender stereotypes
https://www.debate.org/opini
ons/is-sexualizing-female-ga
● It​ promotes gender equality​ because it shows that female characters
me-characters-acceptable-w can do things that male character does.
hy-or-why-not ● It​ changes the sets of ideas about how we expect men and women
dress, behave and present themselves in the society.
. Too many games sexualise female characters
● Most games are focused towards males so they would like sexy
characters. It attracts male gamers and ​sexualised characters is used
as a marketing technique
● It is sexist and is sending out a bad message. It may be marketing
tool, but it is disrespecting to women because​ it changes the way
people view female identity.​ It can be harmful because people who
play these games can then want all real females to look like these
characters.

Florence https://www.theguardian.com Reasons game makers don’t want Female Protagonists:


/technology/commentisfree/2 1. Adding female lead characters doubles the art budget - There’s an ​assumption that
014/feb/19/video-games-nee female characters would inherently change a game​​ to the point where it requires
d-more-women-female-chara a ton more work and money to create.
cters 2. Asking for more women characters will lead to tokenism and positive discrimination -
Less than 10% of game characters are female. Acknowledging the existence of
women and reflecting that in video games is not positive discrimination. People are
not asking for every single game to star a female protagonist;​ they are asking for
more than literally one or two titles a year to star a female protagonist.​​ They’re
asking for it to be an option. In no way is it tokenism to politely request that games
more accurately reflect the makeup of the game-playing public and indeed society,
instead of existing in a strange alternate reality.
3. Women don’t play RPGs/Action Adventures anyway so what does it matter? - more
relatable characters would bring more women and more money into these
genres. ​Girls would search up Lara Croft because thats all they had… it does really
matter.
4. Developers are afraid to put female avatars into games in case their clothing is
criticized or they are accused of violence against women -

Adam https://www.theguardian.com ● Most games are aimed at a​ male​​ audience, so female characters are​ sexualised​​ in
/culture/2017/sep/06/fed-up- order to attract them. An effective marketing technique however very sexist.
with-fantasies-for-male-teena ● Female characters​ aren’t playable ​in most games.
gers-fixing-the-depiction-of-w ● First person shooting games such as COD, Battlefield are​ heavily uses male
omen-in-games
characters,​​ however a break in stereotypes has occured like the​ use of a female
character​​ in the WW2 installment of COD - Rousseau Denis
http://newnormative.com/201
7/12/08/why-call-of-duty-ww2 ● Female characters face sexual prejudice by online gamers, women are being​ asked
-female-soldier-rousseau-des inappropriate questions
erves-her-own-spin-off/ ● Women in online gaming communities engage in a variety of these creative
resistance strategies.
https://www.theguardian.com ● Female gamers play incognito ​and let other players assume that they’re a male so
/culture/2017/oct/24/hey-dud that they won’t face this sexual prejudice
e-do-this-the-last-resort-for-fe
male-gamers-escaping-onlin
e-abuse
● Cliche and sexist ​gender stereotypes
● Not much ​playable female characters
● Male characters coming in all ages, shapes and sizes while female characters are
Farah https://www.theguardian.com uniformly young, slim and sexy
/culture/2017/sep/06/fed-up-
● Women are the sidekicks, sexual objects or the prize you win at the end
with-fantasies-for-male-teena
● ‘Are women​ represented​ fairly in video games?’
gers-fixing-the-depiction-of-w
omen-in-games ● Lack of friendship between boy and girl female characters which show them being
friends rather than sweethearts or siblings
https://www.theguardian.com ● Hypermasculinity​ (​psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical
/technology/gamesblog/2009/ behavior) ​remains a ​dominant motif​ for male​ protagonists ​in video games
jul/31/videogames-gender-ba ● Male representation​ is horrible due to ​character idolisation​ for men (almost everyone
lance is straight and white)
● Many AAA developers (high budget games) avoid depicting women altogether for
fear of backlash over not doing it right
● Misrepresentation​ could be due to a l​ack of diversity​ in ​game developers
● Female gamers represent 38% of all gamers but only 11% of developers are women
● Video games are now no longer occupy a ​niche,​ as they are a big business, so
should games now reflect that?
● The tendency towards​ stereotypical protagonists​ in video games displays a certain
conservatism ​on the part of the publishers and their marketing departments
● Media under-representation can be an indicator of social inequality (finding of a
study)
● Without suitable characters to relate to,​ under-represente​d groups may be less likely
to work in the game industry
● Video game players may be as diverse as ever, but for game characters the ​digital
realm​ is still a ​white man’s world
Mrs Sheridan https://www.telegraph.co.uk/f ● A study in France focused on players aged 11-19 - found:
amily/parenting/playing-video ● Women in games were ​underrepresented​​ and
-games-can-lead-sexist-attitu ● Characters needing help or holding ​passive instrumental roles
des-study/ ● Sex objects​​ to win - seen as the prize
● The research found that ​there was a link between sexist attitudes and video
games​​ - ​HOWEVER (remember that it is always important to have a counter
argument) ​ it is important to note that there are other issues too: eg religious
upbringing is also a key issue when it comes to holding sexist attitudes.
● Other issues to do with underrepresentation of women in gaming (and other areas of
the media: film, tv and advertising) - ​young women become more dissatisfied
with their body, self-objectification (a raunch culture) and eating disorders​​ - a
wider issue and debate.