How The Video Games Are Promoting Stereotypical Gender Types

Piyush Kumar ShrivastavaJul 11 . 5 min read

Video games are meant to be open for all platforms irrespective of gender, place, caste, or creed. The skills required to play video games are not particularly favorable to anyone. Whatever the setup you have to play the game, runs the same for everyone.

But, is this happening around? Is it the same/equal for all the genders from a viewer’s perception? The answer unfortunately comes up as ‘NO’.

The studies have it very clear that female’s characters are being depicted as an object with disproportionate body parts, hyper-sexualized and androgynous clothing. They are usually shown to be playing a subordinate role to the lead character usually male. The sexist approach in creating the female character remains very clear and the disappointing fact is that Videogame creators are playing a major role in this.

Gender Dominance- Superior males

Conventionally, the lead characters have always been played by Males in most of the Videogames. The marketing of the games is done based on Male characters showing up as most powerful, tough body built and a leader while the women being portrayed as a character needing help, sexually objectified and a supporting character to the lead.

The female character is shown in such a stereotypical way, drive a thought process of being incapable of achieving or winning on herself only. A particular type of clothing depicts a female to be using it as a weapon or something that the character always likes to express herself with. Video games like; Stermer and Burkley, 2015; Down and Smith,2010; Near, 2013 have portrayed females to be always needing help to move ahead or getting free. Some games like Millers and Summers, 2007; Beasley and Collins Standley, 2002 showed female characters with the east clothing or partially nude and also being thinner than the male character.

Effect of Female characters dressing on Male players

Playing games with female characters described as above in the game has effects on males in real life also, shown in the studies. Males start to find females as having an obedient, submissive attitude as a natural trait. It affects the gender sensitization in youth playing games that are over-sexualized. 

Researches also show that the tolerance in men of sexual harassment among women increases.

They start taking women to be naturally subordinated and using their body type and clothing to get attention only. Gamers are also found to be discussing in their talks about their skills and achievements for male characters and only about clothing style for females.

One report in 2008 claims that males like to play games having violence in them. This also claimed that men had an attitude supportive of rape being affected by the hyper-sexualized representation of females in video games.

Participation in Games

Initially, the males have been dominating the ratio as players compared to females. The games’ main theme, stories were men-based. But, now games are coming up as females in the lead. Horizon, Half-life, Assasin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us are very popular games having females characters in the lead. Also, the number of females playing video games has increased subsequently, and now there is not much difference in males and females in terms of numbers as players.

Stereotyping females in Female lead games

‘Lara Croft’, the very famous character from Tomb Raider was criticized since starting because of the sexualized representation of the character with dressing and body type not relating to reality. The character showed a clash between power, sexuality, empowerment, and objectification. Later, the creators had to make changes in the character’s appearance after objections from all sides.

The sultan’s daughter in ’Prince of Persia’, Princess Zelda in ‘The Legend of Zelda Series’, ‘The Super Mario’ all these games had stereotyped females to always rescue upon. The gaming covers also stereotyped women to be suppressed ones.

Stereotyping Males

All the games usually depict strong, masculine, and a rescuer to the female character. They are shown to be having bigger chest sizes, bigger head sizes, and bigger arms than in reality. The normal image of a male was completely cut off from the game covers. Considering the heterosexual nature of male gamers, the creators did not over-sexualize male characters compared to the female ones.

Moreover, the Creators need to be more sensitive about this gender stereotyping and create games that have characters portrayed more relevant to reality. Some video game creators have developed with lesser objectifying female characters in lead like Celeste, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, The Child of Light, and many more. The same needs to be continued and accepted widely to change the conventional image.

More from Elitegamezone