In the past year or so, ‘gamer’ has become synonymous with sexist. It’s a sad fact. Sure, there were always elements in games that weren’t representative of reality, and I’m glad that these were highlighted so that developers could be pushed to make better games. Unfortunately, many jumped onto this and the topic of women or sexism in gaming has become a ridiculously messy topic. However, research into this subject started way before these problems, and the findings exonerate the maligned gamers of the world.
A German longitudinal study is out (thanks Forbes) and looked into the idea of cultivation theory – this posits that long-term exposure to media content can affect our perception of the world around us. Funded by the European Research Council (not a games publisher), it’s been quite an extensive study:
Longitudinal studies are undertaken over a period of time, with snapshots of data taken within that. In this instance large samples of participants from the age of 14 and up were included in three waves of testing over a few years, starting back in 2011. That’s a lot of data and, more importantly, it also predates any current controversy regarding the belief that playing games somehow makes people sexist.
Alright, so we’ve got a long-term study looking at what impact (if any) gaming has on sexist attitudes. Are people right? Do games change the way gamers perceive the world in this regard? Well, no.
Controlling for age and education, it was found that sexist attitudes—measured with a brief scale assessing beliefs about gender roles in society—were not related to the amount of daily video game use or preference for specific genres for both female and male players.
So, regardless of genres or genders, gaming had zero impact on sexist tendencies. Good to know. Not particularly surprising to me, but still nice to have this confirmed. It’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of gamers who have sexist ideals, even ones who like women often have ingrained beliefs about women’s inherent abilities, strengths or value. However, that socialization is from a myriad of sources, not just gaming.[Header image from Wen-JR on Deviant Art]
Last Updated: April 17, 2015