Girls play violent games too

// 15 July 2007

Teenage girls overwhelmingly play video games, including violent games such as Grand Theft Auto, reports

In a survey of 1,254 US teenagers, only 80 had not played any video games in the last six months. If you’re thinking some in the industry obviously don’t know their audience very well, you’d be thinking kinda what I’m thinking.

But, the more “surprising” result was that two-thirds of boys and one-third of girls play violent games on a regular basis. The research challenges the assumption that it’s somehow dangerous for otherwise healthy kids to play these games:

The number of girls reporting playing mature-rated video games surprised the researchers, Olson said. The Grand Theft Auto series, often cited as a prime example of a violent video game, topped the list of most-played games for boys and came in second for girls, behind only “The Sims,” the study found.

Much of the previous research on violence and video games has been laboratory- based, Olson said.

“We care about what real kids are doing,” she said. “Our goal was to reframe the issue away from the scary school shooting frame to which kids playing which games in which situations might be at risk for problems.”

About half of the boys and a third of the girls said they played to work out anger. Others said playing relaxed them.

Olson recommended that parents gauge their child’s emotions after playing a game. If playing the video game appears to wind up the child or incite anger, that could be a sign of a problem, she said.

However, for most healthy children with a good family relationships, the study suggests violent video games will not cause problems, Olson said. The concern arises when a child has other risk factors, such as an aggressive personality or having witnessed real-life violence.

Feminist Gamers is pleased that the researchers have recognised this rather obvious fact. And it is useful in breaking down some gamer stereotypes. But, unfortunately, the study doesn’t seem to address the problematic nature of some of these games in terms of the misogyny they exhibit, just the violence side of things.

I’m not a believer in the idea that playing a violent video game makes people want to go out and commit violent acts: but I do think it’s problematic that one of the most popular games played by both girls and boys involves the male protagonist using, beating, pimping and killing prostitutes.

Photo by litherland, shared under a Creative Commons license

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