A long held, and research supported, contention about video and computer games purports that men play more games, more often, and of a wider variety, than women. Reasons for this gendered gap range from socialization to cognitive capacity. The hypothesized reason explored in this study focuses on the sexualized portrayal of female game characters. Portraying women as sexual objects may dissuade women from identifying and wanting to engage with them while enticing men to engage with them. In a 2x3 between-subjects experimental design, this study investigated how men and women perceive and react to female avatars that embody the hypersexualism body shape of big breasts, thin waist, and long, thin limbs, making the portrayal the composite of more naturally voluptuous and thin body shapes. Contrary to industry and academic arguments, it was found that men indicated more engagement with the game when playing as a curvaceous character, while women indicated more engagement playing as the hypersexualized character. Also, identifying with the character during game play was the only consistent predictor of engagement, and this was true regardless of the player's gender; thus, men were engaging in cross-gender identification, possibly due to the conditions of playing the game. The results on identification indicate a more complex way of understanding how we engage with media figures.
|Status||Udgivet - 2009|