The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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dsheinem
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Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by dsheinem Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:05 am

I think I will start posting some interesting articles/abstracts in the general area of Game Studies in this forum with some frequency, here's one I came across this morning...

Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers? A Longitudinal Study on the Relationship Between Video Game Use and Sexist Attitudes.

From the oversexualized characters in fighting games, such as Dead or Alive or Ninja Gaiden, to the overuse of the damsel in distress trope in popular titles, such as the Super Mario series, the under- and misrepresentation of females in video games has been well documented in several content analyses. Cultivation theory suggests that long-term exposure to media content can affect perceptions of social realities in a way that they become more similar to the representations in the media and, in turn, impact one's beliefs and attitudes. Previous studies on video games and cultivation have often been cross-sectional or experimental, and the limited longitudinal work in this area has only considered time intervals of up to 1 month. Additionally, previous work in this area has focused on the effects of violent content and relied on self-selected or convenience samples composed mostly of adolescents or college students. Enlisting a 3 year longitudinal design, the present study assessed the relationship between video game use and sexist attitudes, using data from a representative sample of German players aged 14 and older (N=824). Controlling for age and education, it was found that sexist attitudes-measured with a brief scale assessing beliefs about gender roles in society-were not related to the amount of daily video game use or preference for specific genres for both female and male players. Implications for research on sexism in video games and cultivation effects of video games in general are discussed.




If I can hunt up the full article at some point I will share my thoughts, but this sounds like a well researched and interesting rebuttal of sorts to at least some of the hand wringing over the potential harmful consequences of sexism in games.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by TSTR Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:26 am

For a sec, I totally thought this was an article about the sexiest games and gamers.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by J T Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:56 am

Self-report measures for sexism are highly prone to the "good subject bias". How many sexist rants have you heard that began with the phrase "Now I'm not sexist, but..." People know what they are "supposed" to say, but their socially appropriate answers on an attitudes questionnaire won't capture their underlying beliefs and attitudes, nor their propensity for sexist behavior. They should have used an implicit association test (IAT) or some other metric that captures implicit bias. I want to feel encouraged by this study, but the methodology isn't strong enough, despite their large sample size.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by dsheinem Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:00 pm

J T wrote:Self-report measures


Do you know that is what was used? I couldn't discern much of substance about the method from the abstract, and it is possible they may have looked at a variety of markers where sexist attitudes can be more quantified (e.g. social media posts, self-report, partner report, response to stimuli in an experiments over time, etc.).
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:14 pm

Sampling bias plus cherry picked results pushing a propagandist agenda? No way this industry could ever fall prey to that sort of thing.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by J T Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:28 pm

Exhuminator wrote:Sampling bias plus cherry picked results pushing a propagandist agenda? No way this industry could ever fall prey to that sort of thing.


For once you are arguing that sexism in games makes people more sexist. Interesting plot twist. Or did you not get the take-home message of the abstract?
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Jmustang1968 Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:31 pm

J T wrote:
Exhuminator wrote:Sampling bias plus cherry picked results pushing a propagandist agenda? No way this industry could ever fall prey to that sort of thing.


For once you are arguing that sexism in games makes people more sexist. Interesting plot twist.


Besides some obvious things, there really isn't anything that defines what constitutes as being sexist. I think that can vary from person to person.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:43 pm

J T wrote:Or did you not get the take-home message of the abstract?

Yeah you totally misunderstood what I was being farcical about.

I was mocking the original source being criticized by the other source, because it is the type of skewed "journalism" I'm used to seeing about perceived social issues in gaming.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by J T Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:12 pm

Exhuminator wrote:
J T wrote:Or did you not get the take-home message of the abstract?

Yeah you totally misunderstood what I was being farcical about.

I was mocking the original source being criticized by the other source, because it is the type of skewed "journalism" I'm used to seeing about perceived social issues in gaming.


You're right. I did misunderstand what you were being farcical about. My apologies for misreading you.

I will, however, suggest that you not generalize based on this one study. It has better sampling and a large N in its favor, but I'm skeptical of its operational definitions (though Dsh is right that we all need to see the full article). It's rarely ever good form to generalize based on a single study though.

I also think they are overselling their longitudinal data. Three years is better than six months, but still not enough, and also strange given that attitudes are more rigid in older years, and more malleable in younger years. Three years of exposure to sexism is more influential on an impressionable younger person than an older person who is more entrenched in his/her beliefs. I applaud them for their efforts towards longitudinal data, but I don't think that it fits the design based on just the abstract, though they may present their results in a way that looks at longitudinal effects based on age starting points.

They also control for age and education, which is probably good; however, there is a huge third variable problem in this kind of research, which is impossible to get around: people are exposed to sexist media all the time, be it from video games or otherwise. Depressingly few movies can even pass the basic Bechdel Test, so you know that people in these studies are hit with rampant sexism whether they play videogames or not.

This kind of research also has the same problem that the aggression studies on video games have: video games are diverse. Not all games are violent, and not all games are sexist. It's very difficult to say generally that "video games promote aggression or sexist attitudes" without defining which video games we are talking about. If someone says there is no relationship between hours of gaming and aggression, then it could have been the case that there were subjects playing Bejeweled for 40 hours per week in that sample who would never harm a fly, but they will only make the data confusing to interpret if they are masking a real relationship between violent game and aggression, thus leading to a Type II error.

I also want to highlight, that whether sexist video games lead to sexist beliefs or not, that still doesn't detract from the basic argument that there is room for more female-inclusive games, which for some reason is a controversial topic.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:33 pm

J T wrote:I will, however, suggest that you not generalize based on this one study.

I'm not. I'm going off a history of researching information presented by video game "journalists" as being fact, only to discover it's rarely ever as such. Aside from personal bias of the author in question, the studies cited usually have a political agenda coloring them as well.

As for the issue at hand in this thread, I've explained before that I think sexism in media is a symptom not a source. I believe this sort of societal malady is implanted in the psyche outside of media by parental and peer influence. I also believe the possibility I'm wrong is not absurd, but does require professional controlled experiments the likes of which I have not seen yet.
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