And now, the research…

So believe it or not, there are people for whom the detailed analyses of articulate, accomplished cultural critics are insufficient. For these folks, even when a well-reasoned argument is presented in an engaging, accessible manner, such as on youtube, questions can occasionally remain if the conclusion of the critic is that sexism may very well be present in video games. Moreover, some will maintain, even if some eensy, weensy bit of sexism did – entirely by accident – creep into one of their favorite video games, such artistic sexism has no impact on the real world. It’s just a game! Just make believe! Just art! Why can’t you let it go?

Well, for those people who absolutely must have the peer reviewed research, one man at Iowa State University did not let it go, and his findings will amaze you all – number 6 even surprised Pervert Justice!

Science daily has a brief on the new research here. In short? 13,000 adolescents were studied. They watched, on average, three hours per day of television and played, on average, two hours per day of video games. Iowa State researcher (and professor) Douglas Gentile reassured us that, “Video games are not intended to teach sexist views.” Unfortunately, these games were made in a global context where, “Intent is not magic.”

Oops. That shouldn’t have been in quotes. Gentile actually added, “much of our learning is not conscious and we pick up on subtle cues without realizing it.” But really, intent is not magic. Even though video games are totes not intended to teach sexist views (for some reason, this particular observation was not supported by citation), the data collected during the study (conducted in collaboration with French researchers) and the fruits of previous research compelled him to conclude that:

  1. More than 80 percent of female characters in video game magazines are portrayed as sexualized, scantily clad or a vision of beauty.
  2. More than a quarter of the [femininely gendered or female] characters fit all three categories.
  3. “If you repeatedly ‘practice’ various decisions and choices in games, this practice can influence your attitudes and behaviors outside of the gaming world.” (Gentile)
  4. There is a “a small but significant link between game play and sexism.” (Gentile)
  5. Many things — religion, family, education, socioeconomic status — … influence sexist views, and religion had an effect on sexist views that was 3x stronger than that of video game play.

Don’t think that I’m belittling the value of Gentile’s work in particular, or the value of empirical data collection generally. Nonetheless, many factors – feminism, family, education, Trump’s presidency – influence use of sarcasm, and treating this study as actual news has an effect on use of sarcasm many times stronger than the research endeavor or findings themselves.


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