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How do gender stereotypes affect how games are designed, and what are the effects of this?



Gender stereotypes have infiltrated every part of society, including the entertainment industry, in which video games are an essential and booming industry. As a result, users are more actively involved in deciding how the story plays out and how the character should behave, which is a concern. However, despite recent advances in our society, unfavorable gender stereotypes persist and must be addressed. 
Jan 22, 2023
One of the obvious effects is that female representation is less in the gaming community comparatively because they often feel excluded and marginalized by these games; authors in the paper [1] conducted interviews with 19 E-sport participants to understand this phenomenon. They also concluded that the E-sports industry is also dominated by men because there is another bias that only men tend to play better because they are more competitive and women don't like violence. Such biases affect the industry and our society as a whole. The study conducted by paper [2] also concludes that female users felt their characters were sexualized to a greater extent, making it more repulsive for women. And another concerning effect is the reinforcement of these toxic traits by users who play the game. A study concluded that continuous vicarious support and identification [2] could influence the user's belief. Here, the false perception of toxic masculinity can be reinforced in the user's brain, which might affect their behavior and how they handle relationships in the real-life world.
Effects of Gender Stereotypes in Video Games
The overall research suggests that since we know how these stereotypes can easily infiltrate various media, mainly games, game designers need to be more aware of the impact of stereotyping genders in video games and take steps to create more diverse and positive representations of female characters. Designers also need to make sure that they build characters and storylines that depict non-confirming gender abilities and should encourage users to pick these characters by rewarding them. Also, designers can create two main characters, male and female, for each storyline that does not stick to the norms. Also, we as a society need to work towards ending these false gender biases which start affecting us right from our childhood, we need to make sure the stories that entertainment sources like games and movies show men can be empathetic too, and they need to make a conscious effort to break these stereotypes.
[1] Daniel Madden, Yuxuan Liu, Haowei Yu, Mustafa Feyyaz Sonbudak, Giovanni M Troiano, and Casper Harteveld. 2021. “Why Are You Playing Games? You Are a Girl!”: Exploring Gender Biases in Esports. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 323, 1–15. 3445248
[2] Tilo Hartmann, Christoph Klimmt, Gender, and Computer Games: Exploring Females’ Dislikes, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 11, Issue 4, 1 July 2006, Pages 910–931, x
[3] Fox, Jesse, and Jeremy N. Bailenson. "Virtual self-modeling: The effects of vicarious reinforcement and identification on exercise behaviors." Media Psychology 12.1 (2009): 1-25
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