Friday, August 8, 2014

Where Are The Women Video Characters?

Over 90 percent of kids play video games regularly, according to the most recent study from the NPD group. And according to the ESRB, over 65 percent of US households own at least one video game console.

A study by Children Now and Dr. David Leonard of Washington State University this year that the images above reference showed that 17 percent of video games characters were female, 19 percent of characters were women and 64 percent of characters in video games were male. Even more distressing, the study found that found what little black women characters there were had a distressingly narrowed role: 90 percent of black female characters were either props, bystanders or victims. So with there being more non-human characters in video games than women characters in video games... how does that affect boys' views of women and what they can do? How does that affect girls' view of themselves? How many of the women characters are just motivation for the hero to start a quest, or a damsel in distress, or otherwise a periphery in a game?

As I've said often, representation matters. Two years ago, a study conducted by Commuunication Research showed that watching TV shows increased the self esteem of  white boys, but noticeably undercut the confidence and self esteem of girls no matter what the race.

One outlet that will be dedicated to tackling this issues is an upcoming podcast called The Smash Survey. The about page describes The Smash Survey as "... an upcoming podcast project that will critically explore the representation of race, gender, and queer identity in media and pop culture in a fun and engaging format. Through interviews, games, critiques, and panels TTS will try and answer the three primary questions of representation and media portrayals: Why are they the way they are, why are they wrong and what can we do to fix them?" You can follow the tumblr of the same name here.

What say you, readers?

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