A three year study focused on measuring the relationship between video game consumption and sexist viewpoints has recently been completed. The study, which included 824 subjects aged 14 years and older, found no significant link between sexist attitudes and the use of video games. Conducted by the University of Cologne’s Department of Psychology, the survey was considerably different than previous ones on the subject.
The Scientific Method
A notable detail in the article is the first sentence on the “well-documented” misrepresentation/lack of representation of female characters in video games. This is significant because it demonstrates that the study was predicated on the idea that portrayals of women are simultaneously unflattering and lopsided in favor of male characters. This is supported by the statements that follow about “cultivation theory,” with said theory serving as a possible hypothesis for the study on the viewpoints of gamers on such subjects as gender roles and perceptions of women.
Perhaps Cologne’s Department of Psychology believed that examining gamers would confirm whatever negative assumptions they had made about gamers’ perception of women, based on the “sexist” entertainment they consume.
So despite the fact that the study seemed to be conducted with a clear objective in mind, here we have the results of the study plainly reported: for male and female players, there is no link between sexist attitudes and the use of video games for entertainment.
Everyone already knew this because everyone playing video games who’s also old enough to fully comprehend what a “sexist attitude” is isn’t going to be influenced by a piece of interactive entertainment. Even so, it’s great to see a study like this published because besides confirming what those of us already familiar with video games already knew, it aids in the struggle for gamers to obtain credence from the public and supports arguments made to demonstrate that people have nothing to fear from video games.
Fear Itself Slowly Emerges
This is yet another case in what seems to be a series of academic and even judicial findings which show that games and their players are frequently the undeserving victims of outrageous accusations. It looks as though each time a study about the moral nature of video games (as well as the people who play them) is conducted, they come out looking completely harmless, with the accusers appearing hysterical and senselessly alarmed, as it should be.
Every little bit helps, and I believe this meticulous study is a lot. However, just like the discussion of violence and video games, it would be incredibly foolish to believe this will put an end to accusations of sexist content and attitudes in video games and it would be doubly foolish to expect to see gamers themselves absolved. As mentioned before, studies like this highlight the dubious habit of public figures pinning societal ills and negative viewpoints on gamers, accusations less common for dedicated fans of films, music and books, all because of the added elements of interactivity and challenge. This valuable information won’t solve anything, but expect it to be a tremendous aid.