Media Violence and Sterotypes

For this week’s blog post, I want to focus on the subject of violent video games and how women in these games are projected in a hyper-sexualized way to appeal to the male dominant audience.Women in general are probably the most heavily stereotyped in media due to believing that we need to meet all of these unrealistic standards in the media for people to like us. It is hard not to go a day without coming across some type of stereotype such as a thought popping into your head as you see someone and categorize them into that stereotype or seeing them being portrayed in TV and movies. Even though we have games where women are more appropriately depicted, there are still many more games out there that follow this appeal.

The way that these stereotypes play into my everyday life is through social media and watching TV or movies. When I’m scrolling on my phone or watching a commercial that is playing on my TV about a violent video game it most likely shows an image of a woman who is wearing not much clothing and having enlarged features that can be unappealing to some viewers. When you think of women in video games it’s hard to to think of the stereotypically feature because that is what we grew up seeing. For instance, one time I was at this bar/restaurant with my family and they had a little game room and the one game with the guns had a female character who fit all of the stereotype imaging.

The one artifact that I picked this week applies to gender, body image, and sexuatily becasue of being stereotyped and that is women’s depiction in video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Lara Croft. I personally do not play many video games myself, but whenever I’m at someone’s house or seeing ads online promoting a video game it always has some women with big boobs, tiny waist, and wearing the bare minimum of clothing no matter where the game takes place. The reasoning for this is to appeal to the male audience since that is what most of these games are targeted to, but then it creates this unrealistic image of women thinking that is what we should all look like.

In our reading from Piotrowski and Fikkers on Media Violence and Aggression they mention a theory that can explain why content creators create this depiction of women to target the male audience and that is Excitation Transfer Theory. This theory is defined by “people become physically aroused during certain types of media content, including violent content” (Piotrowski and Fikkers). Seeing the protraly of a woman who is holding a weapon to use for violence causes an arousal for the male players which, i’m no expert, but cause them to continually play this game because it gives them this feeling of arousal. Many other studies have been conducted on this type of behavior of female sexuality representation such as an article written by Lora Strum on Study Tracks 31-year History of Female Sexualization in Video Games.

Within this article, Strum makes some good points on why it is the case and that can be due to a wide range of game developers being male and if you are a female developer, then you end up getting the short end of the stick with pay and contributions. As well as turning away female gamer audiences because of the sexuailzaton of thoes characters. From what I have read about in the two articles for this week showed me that having this ideal image of women in video games can do more harm than good for both genders because it can cause males to be more violent due to the repeated exposure and then causes the women to feel bad about ourselves because we don’t look like the girls in the game.

I am personally not someone who plays games often or lives in a house where someone is playing violent video games, but I have seen commercials and even played a few games myself like Grand Theft Auto when being at a friends house and sometimes feeling uncomfortable when seeing the women character on the screen because they don’t look realistic. Seeing how violent video games are a male forward business, I don’t see much change in the future happening in being able to make women look less hyper-sexualized. My final thoughts are seeing what we have learned from lecture and the few articles that I have read about this topic proves that this constant exposure has created this “norm” towards female character as having a skinny body but also being strong and powerful appeals to the male gaming community.

Strum, L. (2016, July 08). Study tracks 31-year history of female sexualization in video games. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/study-tracks-31-year-history-of-female-sexualization-in-video-games

Piotrowski, J. T., & Fikkers, K. M. (n.d.). Media Violence and Aggression.