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games research

Research 4: Consensus of Gender – Reasons and Implications

Consalvo, Mia; Ivory, James D.; Martins, Nicole; and Williams, Dimitri.  “The Virtual Census: Representations of Gender, Race and Age in Video Games.”  New Media & Society 11.5 (2009): 815-834.  Web.  19 June 2013.

In this very large-scale content analysis of the appearance of video game characters, the authors discovered that which has been supported by the other articles I have read so far: male characters, players, and game developers far outweigh female characters, players and developers.  Even further, this study analyzed the appearance of different races and ages to discover that racial minorities and the elderly and children were seriously underrepresented in video games.  Again, white male characters, players, and developers outnumbered their other gender, racial, and older/younger counterparts.  While this was nothing new to me by this point, these authors address the reasons and implications of this outweighing of one particular demographic than other research I have read.  They attribute the overrepresentation of white males in video games to both developers and players – developers make what the players want to buy.  Most authors seem only concerned with the effects of having so many white male characters but this article is also concerned with why such games are made.  Of course, they do heavily address the possibly implications of such representation stating that “measuring the imbalances that exist on the screen can tell us what imbalances exist in the social identity formation, social power and policy formation in daily life” (Williams et. al 819).  Furthermore, they argue that “Demographic groups of people who are not represented are slowly rendered invisible by virtue of their relative inaccessibility in the knowledge store” (Williams et. al 821).  Basically, this article suggests that it is important to develop more diversity in games, or at least further understand why there is not diversity in characters, because it directly impacts social identity formation and social power among current minorities (pretty much everyone that isn’t a white, young male).

I have primarily been focusing on gender in my research but in addition to the last article I read, this one posits some interesting information about the underrepresentation of racial minorities.  I often feel that gender has been a really hacked out scholarly topic, but interest in racial identity falls by the wayside (for the most part).  Obviously we have African-American Studies just as we have Women’s Studies, but feminism seems to be a much more colloquial thing than concern about racial identity.  At least in my opinion, anyways.  Perhaps my paper will be more involved with race than I had planned, but it seems interesting, albeit not much of the articles I have read so far have done more than give quantitative analyses of video game characters.  I need some more theory stuff! 

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