AUDIENCE PERSPECTIVE How the audience digests what developers produce

The way these stereotypes carry onto video games can be the result of the assumed audience, as well as how they appeal to the player. For the longest time it seemed as if the majority of video game players were males. Although that may have been true for a while, more recent studies have proven that there are almost just as many female video game players as there are male. In a recent American study,

52% of gamers were male and 48% of gamers were female (Lofgren 2015).

With the assumed male audience as a majority, developers are producing video games that appeal more to them. In other words, catering to a male audience results in products that are depicted within a male gaze. Video games created through a male gaze allow the male consumer to relate more heavily with the game, as opposed to females.

When it comes to character selection, it does not help that females are often represented in video games as over sexualized, the weaker link, or just something added into a storyline to make it more diverse or exciting. These same assumptions can be linked to a players character selection in a video game.

Players often associate characters with specific actions and behaviour because of further links to society (Poels et al 2010).

The stereotypes that are evident in the offline world are constantly being represented in the online world, which can affect a players decision when choosing which characters they want to play in a game. A typical assumption that comes from ignorance is that male characters are stronger (even when made with the same abilities) and fit in with the majority of online players, or that people will feel more accepted playing as a male character. This is a result of further social pressures, where many people are most likely to want to be part of the majority, and the assumptions that video games are more of a males realm. The article by DiGiuseppe and Nardi consists of interviews with World of Warcraft players that attempted to find reasons behind their characters choices (2007).

As a result, certain characters and players were associated with certain attributes, and thus affected character decisions which are directly related to the treatment of other players. For example, female players in the game were often looked upon as inexperienced or weak and are linked to certain characters as a result of such. For example, from DiGiuseppe and Nardi’s interviews, females seemed to express more interest with characters that heal, have magic abilities, or special abilities such as stealth (2007). In other words, females gravitate towards characters with abilities that are seen as more passive. With that assumption in mind, players often link races in the game with passive abilities to female players. Whereas, character races such as the warrior who are more aggressive and physically powerful are ones that appeal more to male players. These character selection decisions can reflect real offline desires such as the desire to possess passive but impactful abilities for females, and physical capabilities for males. These assumptions are not only restricted to character selection, but also carry onto the online communities that surround video games.

Created By
Jamie-Lee Santos


Created with images by bohed - "gamer hands game" • foeock - "WORLD OF WARCRAFTS & DIABLO III ARTS"

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