Gabriela Richard, ECT doctoral student and dolcelab member, presented part of her dissertation research findings as part of the 21st Annual Women & Society Conference at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY (October 19-20, 2012).
Her presentation was titled “Beyond Tropes: Exploring the Potential Impact of Gender Inequity in Video Game Culture.” She discussed how environmental bias, as formed through disproportionate gender harassment and game marketing, creates places that can be inequitable for females and ethnic minorities. She further used case studies to illustrate the connections between potential media effects and environmental bias and disproportionate agency for females and ethnic minorities in game culture (and in long-term trajectories to STEM).
The full abstract:
The recent firestorm around Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter campaign to fund a video series on common tropes of female characters in video games helped to popularize and shed light on the often limited and stereotypic representations of females in video games, which are quickly becoming a highly consumed entertainment medium. While many female gamers, developers and media scholars have attempted to address issues of gender inequality in video games and culture, this particular event has appeared to widen the discourse beyond gaming communities and academia. However, while understanding limited stereotypes in media is an important first step to addressing gender inequality in general in game culture, it is also important to understand the potential impact of gender inequity. For example, research shows that there is a high level of misogyny, homophobia and gender-related harassment in online gaming. This kind of harassment, which was also waged against Sarkeesian’s kickstarter campaign, may have some correlation to the lack of gender equality in video games and culture. The author will present work from her dissertation on gender and video game culture, particularly highlighting the potential impact of gender inequality on players, which can include lack of agency, motivation and self-efficacy. She will argue that this is not just important for the design of gender-equitable educational games (which her dissertation focuses on), but also for encouraging healthier social environments around video game play.