The U.S. Video Game Industry: Analyzing Representation of Gender and Race

The U.S. Video Game Industry: Analyzing Representation of Gender and Race

Janet C. Dunlop (Oklahoma State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-142-1.ch014
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Today’s media are vast in both form and influence; however, few cultural studies scholars address the video gaming industry’s role in domestic maintenance and global imposition of U.S. hegemonic ideologies. In this study, video games are analyzed by cover art, content, and origin of production. Whether it is earning more “powers” in games such as Star Wars, or earning points to purchase more powerful artillery in Grand Theft Auto, capitalist ideology is reinforced in a subtle, entertaining fashion. This study shows that oppressive hegemonic representations of gender and race are not only present, but permeate the majority of top-selling video games. Finally, the study traces the origins of best-selling games, to reveal a virtual U.S. monopoly in the content of this formative medium.
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Theoretical Framework

In the same way that under-representation or negative stereotypical images have the ability to affect children’s attitudes, values, and roles of themselves and others in society, the implications of racial diversity and stereotypes in video games have yet to be researched. A fair examination of the quality of any message that children receive also requires a close look at how people of color are depicted in video games. These images influence perceptions of societal roles, not only for youth of color, but also for white youth—boys and girls alike. In order to present a clear picture of the message that youth of all colors are receiving in video games, a racial analysis must be part of video game analysis.

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