Since the moment the social justice community turned its attention towards video games, a number of things came under attack. Outrage was generated about nearly everything, including the portrayal of women.
It’s not uncommon to see a woman in video games be sexualized, be they main characters or not. Tomb Raider’s Laura Croft, Bayonetta, and the depictions of various female characters in fighting games have all come under fire by social justice warriors who declared that women being displayed this way had a negative impact on society.
They told us that it would give men unrealistic expectations of women and cause to view them more as objects which would be dangerous to females, yet there’s been no evidence to support this. In fact, studies have shown that video games actually decrease aggressive behaviors.
But they also made the claim that sexualized depictions in games would cause women to do something similar to men. SJWs claimed women would begin to view themselves negatively and that it would cause aggression toward other women.
As one study shows, the social justice outrage brigade is wrong again.
Chris Ferguson, Danielle Lindner, and Melissa Trible from Stetson University along with Ilana Pilato from Fairleigh Dickinson University conducted research surrounding this idea and published a study called “Examining the effects of exposure to a sexualized female video game protagonist on women’s body image.”
According to One Angry Gamer, who published the original report, the study used 98 women over the age of 18. The researchers noted that 31.6 percent of the women who played were not gamers.
The women were given two different games to play. The first was Tomb Raider: Underworld where the female protagonist, Lara Croft, is more sexualized than a real life woman would be. They were then handed 2013’s Tomb Raider, which features the same character but which utilized a more realistic depiction of Lara Croft. They were then asked to play each game for 30 minutes.
To see the difference between the two characters, click on the video below.
After various tests, the study concluded that the games had little impact on how women felt about themselves or others:
“Results indicated little evidence to suggest that playing a video game with sexualized content influenced any of the outcome variables. […]”
“As to why sexualized video games had little impact on female players, this may be because participants identified the sexualized female video game protagonist as fictional and thus not a realistic source of messaging about women’s bodies.”
This is far from the first time a study has concluded that video game depictions of anything actually negatively impacts the way people view the world around them, and the researchers of the study note this:
“Our study also adds to increasing literature that fictional media in general, and video games specifically, have less impact on consumers than had previously been thought. Much of this issue had occurred on the topic of violence, where an increasing number of null studies have raised concerns that social science may have damaged its credibility by staking an early claim to public health impacts that could not be supported by subsequent data […]. We suspect that this field would benefit from being more cautious in asserting casual effects for sexualized video games until more data are available.
“Naturally, one must be careful not to generalize too far from one experiment. For instance, it is possible that playing as more active versus passive female characters might have differing effects. Depictions from fictional media such as video games may have different influences than depictions in nonfiction, such as news media. Further, it is possible that tiny effects may not be discernible in brief, laboratory experiments but may nonetheless accumulate over time, although existing longitudinal data have not support this belief […]”
It is true that more research is warranted, and even the researchers of this study admit to wishing they had more participants in the study as well as various other factors that would have made the study more complete. That said, this conclusion of this study still follows a specific trend of finding out that games have little in the way of negative impact on our behavior.