Video Games 'Unhealthy' for Girls, Study Says
December 15, 2000 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Video Games 'Unhealthy' for Girls, Study Says Anyone else think this is a bit overblown?
posted by SilentSalamander (16 comments total)
I think Lara's a pretty positive, kick-ass character. She's motivated to kick some undead ass! There's nothing unhealthy about that, certainly.

However, if you're going to make a statement about the unrealistic physical proportions of the characters, I'd say it's just as unhealthy for boys (if it is unhealthy at all). I don't look like any of those characters. I must be a weakling.

Courtesy of
posted by SilentSalamander at 4:36 PM on December 15, 2000

Fifty-four percent of the games surveyed contained female lead characters while 92 percent had male lead characters.
uh, I thought most games only had one lead character, therefore making it the lead character.
I agree with silentsalamander, the males in most games are hulking heaps of muscle. Besies, they're video games, they appeal to the market. No, it's not right, but remember that the companies are in this for money, not to please everyone.
posted by starduck at 4:50 PM on December 15, 2000

I dunno. Ms. Pacman did define the feminist mystique for me in the Pacman Saturday Morning Cartoon..
posted by schlomo at 4:50 PM on December 15, 2000

Who needs realism when we have breast implants for the women and steroids for the men?

I guess you can just throw all your money into therapy instead.

Just be careful when choosing a video game character to emulate. Take Mario for instance. A short, fat,suspender wearing, mushroom eating, high jumping plumber with a softspot for a Princess. Follow in his footsteps and you could find yourself addicted to magic mushrooms, a hopeless drug addict.
posted by john at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2000

"It's just more sexist tosh".
I've tried to think of something more interesting to say than that but I just can't see how anyone would read that study and take it seriously without a mental picture of all young girls as pretty little catholic nuns-in-waiting having their ideals of chastity and non-violence torn from them by the evils of modern media. Is their anyone on MeFi who actually thinks all girls are like that?
posted by davidgentle at 5:51 PM on December 15, 2000

This came in the email today...

Subject: Quote of the day!!
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 23:58:47 -0500 (EST)

This was printed in a computer magazined in the UK - NYUK!:

"Computer games don't affect kids. I mean if Pacman affected us as kids, we'd all run around in a darkened room munching pills and listening to repetitive music."


posted by junk mail at 7:20 PM on December 15, 2000

Children Now, an Oakland, Calif-based child advocacy organization...

Well, we know we can trust this study, being from an unbiased, disinterested organization and all.
posted by aaron at 9:30 PM on December 15, 2000

Right, and then so is teevee and magazines and books and so on and so on. Healtheist thing - girls to be kept from outside world untill 21.
posted by tiaka at 9:50 PM on December 15, 2000

I wish someone had handed me a copy of Unreal Tournament when I was a kid.

Sure, they female default skins might be scantily clad and busty, but they can still put the Redeemer on your ass just like any other character.

Thanking Sigourney Weaver for rocking my pre-feminist world in "Aliens".
posted by gsh at 9:55 PM on December 15, 2000

starduck, I think the >100% lead character gender can be attributed to games which give you the option of playing a male character or a female character. Either through skins, like UT as gsh pointed out, or in games like Resident Evil where you can get a slightly different storyline if you play as the female character, or Tekken, where some of the fighters are female.

Unrealistic body images are a piece of what gaming's about. Being able to pretend you're in this world where you're not just some average person is what makes games appealing. The body image thing goes for both genders, but I don't think I've ever been upset that I'm now a gruff military man with a cigar burning in my stubble-studded square jaw.

There were many attempts to write female-oriented (actually, girl-oriented, like Barbie Does Her Hair) games and most ended up failing miserably. Most female gamers understandably saw them as trite, fluffy wastes of time. Most of the women I know who game can not only kick my ass in Quake, but can out-strategize me in TA:Kingdoms, and make for excellent companions in MMORPGs.

The same can be said for most guys I know who game, I'm not very good at Quake. :-)

Body image may very well be an issue, video games are just as much media as television or movies, but I can't help but feel that segregating games into "boy games" and "girl games" creates more of a gender issue. "Oh, you can't play Counterstrike, you're a girl. Go make Barbie a new outfit."
posted by cCranium at 5:51 AM on December 16, 2000

I'll be happy when my daughter's old enough to play Sim City, Myst, Riven, any sequels, and start learning how to whomp my ass at cd-rom Boggle.

Those are my kinda games, personally... (and yes, my daughter's allowed and even encouraged to develop different tastes).

And for a real retro fun time, we'll bring out my old Atari 2600 and play Maze Craze, Joust, Carnival, Pitfall, and the like. Or Bubble Bobble on the old Nintendo.

I just don't see the point of her spending her scant hours inside playing first-person-shooter or fantasy adventure games all the time. Blah, how boring compared to the other things she'll have available to do.

She'll be so engaged already building stuff with Legos, playing sports, doing dance, reading, creating art, learning how to code, doing web pages, riding horses, playing with her cousins, and on and on.

Oh yeah, I guess school may have to be squeezed in there somewhere.
posted by beth at 7:33 AM on December 16, 2000

Just curious:

If video games are bad for girls because they promote low self esteem by suggesting they should be as the video game shows girls -- are games that show boys having to resort to killing for survival, and boys who ultimately die in every game in anyway bad for boys? Or are they more dangerous for the rest of us?

Looks like somebody was sniffing glue in philosophy class again.
posted by evad at 9:56 AM on December 16, 2000

I think the >100% lead character gender can be attributed to games which give you the option of playing a male character or a female character.

Personally, I can think of a number of story-based games have multiple lead characters, often at least one male / female couple; the last gew Final Fantasy titles come to mind.
posted by harmful at 10:14 AM on December 16, 2000

Yeah, there are many games where you're in control of more than one character, I neglected to mention them. But typically in games like that there's the player's avatar and the party members.

For instance, in FF7 (the last one I played) the other characters are party members where the blond male character is your avatar in the game. No matter how prominent the female lead is, in FF7 you don't get the chance to play as her.

Sigh. Of course, the preceeding sounds like I'm arguing that gender stereotyping is prominent in games, whereas I'm just picking on Final Fantasy. :-)
posted by cCranium at 4:42 PM on December 16, 2000

uhh, cC... there is pretty much an entire CD in FF7 where you play as Tifa...
posted by tj at 5:50 AM on December 18, 2000

Really? Oh. Well, that's what I get for commenting on a game I never finished. <sigh>.

I'll just sit here with my head in the sand for a while.
posted by cCranium at 5:55 AM on December 18, 2000

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