TRADITIONALly UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS IN VIDEO GAME
Diamond Beverly, Dr. Jason LaTouche College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Tarleton State University
This research was presented at both the Texas A&M Pathways research symposium as well as the Tarleton State Research Conference.
Video games are a 100 Billion dollar industry whose narrative content has wide reaching global influence. Modern video games are often highly plot driven and contain significant representations of social norms, roles and structures. As such they have a strong cultural influence and impact in our society. Past research has shown that underrepresented groups in video games are often oversexualized and stigmatized by negative stereotypes and tropes. This study examines representations of characters’ race, gender, and sexual orientation in the top 10 grossing mass market video games and top 10 indie video games of 2016. It was hypothesized that indie video games would offer more numerical diversity and more balanced representation of these underrepresented groups due to the fact that indie video games often have less standardized corporate structures and more creator diversity. Results show that Indie games are more likely to feature traditionally underrepresented groups and more likely to show these groups exhibiting complex character structure and integration into the main plot of the video game. Comparatively, top grossing mass market video games that have more strict editorial guidelines and less diverse corporate structures tend to have less numerical and more stereotypical representation of underrepresented groups.
VIDEO GAME MEDIA
Mass media is responsible for setting a society’s values and perception of traditional gender roles, as well as the
general perception of specific cultural and ethnic groups, video games share this influential power equally if not
more so. “Video games have in fact surpass television in terms of time spent among some populations” - (Sherry et al.,
2006). Video games have an expansive reach that can has the power to influence and effect real life world decisions.
VIDEO GAME CENSUS (Past research)
Past research has shown that underrepresented groups in video games are often oversexualized and
stigmatized by negative stereotypes and tropes. In a study titled : The virtual census: representations of gender, race and age in video games, The outcome of the study shows a disproportional systematic over-representation of white, adult, males. when results were compared to traditionally underrepresented groups there was a great deal of systematic under-representation of these groups
This study examines representations of characters’ race, gender, and sexual orientation in the top 10 grossing mass
market video games and top 10 indie video games of 2016.
Studying if compared to Mass Market video games, indie games will have more numeric diversity of characters based
on race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Some of the categories observed (21 overall categories) : Race, Death, Love Interest, Incarceration, Gender Identity ,Sexuality, Personality traits, Morality
SCOPE OF THE INDUSTRY
Video games are a $99.6 Billion dollar industry, as of the end of 2016 data. The narrative and content of video games have wide
reaching global influence. According to the data report compiled by NewZoo on the Global Games Market in 2016 including the Report Premium, the global game market was worth $99.6 Billion in 2016 and will likely increases by at least $6.9 Billion by the end of 2017
The demographic for the average Gamer has expanded exponential in regard to race, gender and age. According to new zoos research 2017 Sales, Demographic and usage Data the average gamer is 35. Specifically women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the gaming population than men under 18, male identifying person that play video games are on average 33 years old. 65% of households own a device used for playing video games
In this Study I took the Top 13 Mass Market Video Games as well as the top 13 Indie games to compare
and contrast the characters interactions and correlation to the main story narrative through cut scenes.
a cut scene is an in-game cinematic that serves to further the plot or point the player toward a
specific narrative influenced by the interaction of other characters and the surroundings.
An Indie Game (independent video game), is a video game created by a single or small group of
individuals, without significant support from a video game publisher.
Mass Market (AAA) are games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion
these games are expected to be a high quality game and to be among the year's bestsellers.
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