How Can Video Games Be Harmful?

1689 words - 7 pages

1 Video games are a large part of the media that we see these days. Whether we play video games or not we can all be affected by the content of video games through marketing, direct play, or other means. One of the most prevalent ways the video games affects individuals and society is through gender stereotyping. Many video games, past and present, contribute to harmful gender stereotypes that our society currently embodies.
2 One easily recognizable form of gender stereotype that’s common in video games is the presentation of unrealistic body expectations as an ideal. Men are portrayed as hugely muscular like Duke Nukem from the game of the same name, Chris Redfield from Resident Evil, and Cole Train, Dom and Marcus from Gears of War (Do Videogame Stereotypes Hurt Men?). As a result, men fell small or overweigh in comparison (Shenton). While male characters are hulking beasts of pure muscle, female characters are portrayed for sexual appeal and perfection of appearance. Lets start at the top of the female appearance with their hair. Women in video games always have perfect hair. It is long, perfectly sculpted, voluminous, lusciously colored, and all around gorgeous hair. But how is this perfect hair maintained through running, combat, and an entire storyline? I can barely keep my hair looking mostly suitable through a single day. Continuing down on the appearance we come next to ridiculously large breasts paired with unhealthily tiny waists and emphasized by skimpy outfits. Most female characters have breasts that are much larger than the breasts of an average woman in real life and in conjunction with their tiny waists they bear a strong resemblance to Barbie, which is only accentuated by their clothing, or lack thereof. Along with their perfectly sculpted bodies, women in video games have flawless skin. Not once do you ever see them flushed with blotchy, red skin or a stress pimple. In short women are expected to maintain a perfect appearance in all activities. A few prime examples of these characteristics are Nariko from Heavenly Sword, Bayonetta from the game of the same name, and Laura Croft from Tomb Raider (Clarkson). These unrealistic and highly unattainable bodies contribute to a low self-esteem and poor body images when individuals who play games with these types of characters see that they don’t have or can’t achieve the ‘ideal’ body. These repercussions can lead to disorders like anorexia, bulimia, muscular dysmorphia, depression, etc (Do Videogame Stereotypes Hurt Men?). Disorders such as these can have serious physical and mental side effects on individuals.
3 Now one could argue that not all games have characters that are portrayed in such a way and the media shows us impractical body ideals all the time, so we should be used to it an be able to dismiss those images. While this point is true there are a good number of games that do have characters that are represented that way, and in turn those games can reach many individuals...

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