Reactions to a woman’s friend request in an FPS game (Holz Ivory et al., 2014)

Previously in communication science, Kuznekoff & Rose (2013) did a field experiment in a popular FPS where they played either as a male or female player and analyzed comments directed towards them. What they found is that the female player received three times as many negative comments as the male player.

Adrienne Holz Ivory (Virginia Tech), Jesse Fox (Ohio State University), Frank Waddell (Pennsylvania State University) and James Ivory (Virginia Tech) conducted a field experiment of their own where they examined how players of a different FPS game reacted to either a male’s or female’s friend request following a match. What did they found in this field experiment?


Sex role stereotyping by players in first-person shooter games and other online gaming environments may encourage a social environment that marginalizes and alienates female players. Consistent with the social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE), the anonymity of online games may engender endorsement of group-consistent attitudes and amplification of social stereotyping, such as the adherence to gender norms predicted by expectations states theory. A 2 × 3 × 2 virtual field experiment (= 520) in an online first-person shooter video game examined effects of a confederate players’ sex, communication style, and skill on players’ compliance with subsequent online friend requests. We found support for the hypothesis that, in general, women would gain more compliance with friend requests than men. We also found support for the hypothesis that women making positive utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than women making negative utterances, whereas men making negative utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than men making positive utterances. The hypothesis that player skill (i.e., game scores) would predict compliance with friend requests was not supported. Implications for male and female game players and computer-mediated communication in online gaming environments are discussed.

Yay! It’s summer time, now I get to catch up on the games I bought from the last steam sale! Continue reading

Why girls play pink videogames? (van Reijmersdal et al., 2013)

The gender disparity in the gamer demographics is probably one of its defining characteristics. The proportion of men who game are higher than women, in a broad sense, but anecdotes and some survey data show that there are greater disparities in some genres. Men are attracted to competitive and combative videogames (e.g., FPS, RTS, MOBA) whereas women are attracted to socially interactive videogames (e.g., MMO) (references). Researchers noted that this does not reflect some fundamental reason to justify why girls don’t play videogames… it’s complicated. I’d have to bring in developmental psychologists, sociologists, and other social scientists who specialize in gender to interpret these results.

Eva van Reijmersdal (University of Amsterdam) and colleagues noted that there is not much we know about girls and videogames, especially why pink games are popular among young girls.


Based on social role theory and uses and gratifications, this study provides insights into the popularity of so-called pink games. This study is the first to examine the roles of identification, playing time, and age in the experience of motivations while playing an online role-playing game. Drawing upon a survey among 2261 girls between10 and 17 of age, our results show that identification with characters in the game is an important process in explaining girls’ gaming motivations. In addition, identification and motivations are intensified with playing time. Although age affects identification negatively, age is not related to the most important motive in playing pink games: social interaction. This study has important theoretical and practical implications for the popularity of pink games among girls.

So… my first article is finally published in Computer in Human Behavior. Continue reading

Self-objectification by embodying sexualized virtual selves (Fox et al., 2013)

From Jurassic Park: Trespasser

From Jurassic Park: Trespasser (1998)

I was going through articles deciding what to review in light of recent developments. I came acorss Jesse Fox (Ohio State University) and colleagues’ article in Computers in Human Behavior that relates well with the Oculus Rift. I’ve seen some youtube videos of people’s experiences with the oculus rift, including an execution with a virtual guillotine. Jesse Fox (whom I co-authored on an upcoming article in the same journal) and colleagues examined the effects of sexual self-objectification within the virtual reality setting, not dissimilar from using the Oculus rift. At present course of gaming development practices towards gender depiction, this is what we could expect in the near future.


Research has indicated that many video games and virtual worlds are populated by unrealistic, hyper-sexualized representations of women, but the effects of embodying these representations remains understudied. The Proteus effect proposed by Yee and Bailenson (2007) suggests that embodiment may lead to shifts in self-perception both online and offline based on the avatar’s features or behaviors. A 2 X 2 experiment, the first of its kind, examined how self-perception and attitudes changed after women (N = 86) entered a fully immersive virtual environment and embodied sexualized or nonsexualized avatars which featured either the participant’s face or the face of an unknown other. Findings supported the Proteus effect. Participants who wore sexualized avatars internalized the avatar’s appearance and self-objectified, reporting more body-related thoughts than those wearing nonsexualized avatars. Participants who saw their own faces, particularly on sexualized avatars, expressed more rape myth acceptance than those in other conditions. Implications for both online and offline consequences of using sexualized avatars are discussed.

Jesse and I have already planned follow-up surveys and hopefully get enough data before I review my own work for the first time. Continue reading

The SeX-Box and benevolent sexism (Stermer & Burkley, 2013)

When I saw the title from the new academic journal, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, it sounded familiar that I googled and found out it was a probable reference to the Fox News’ face-palming reporting of Mass Effect’s erotic cutscene (“se”xbox). Steven Paul Stermer (Oklahoma State University) and Melissa Burkley has a line of studies examining sexual depictions in videogames.  This study investigated the correlational link between sexist videogame content and benevolent sexism. This reminded me of a videogame commercial I saw a long time ago when television had a big place in my leisure time.


We examined the association between playing sexist video games and sexist attitudes. Undergraduate students (61 men and 114 women) indicated the level of perceived sexism present in their most frequently played video games. Students also completed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996), which measures both hostile and benevolent sexism. As predicted, men who played video games perceived to be high in sexism showed higher levels of benevolent sexism, compared with men who did not play such games. This relationship was not evident for women. Importantly, our study provides the first known evidence of a link between long-term exposure to sexist video games and sexist attitudes. Although correlational, these data are consistent with the notion that sexist video games encourage and reinforce sexist attitudes. Our findings have important real-world implications for video game researchers, parents, and game players themselves.

I started playing League of Legends after finishing a good portion of the Assassin’s Creed series. I can see why it’s popular, I am starting to think on my play style and which champions to aim for. Continue reading

Reactions to a woman’s voice in an FPS game (Kuznekoff & Rose, in press)


Created by Emmy Cicierega

As of this writing, it is technically “in press” and its permanent publication data is not yet formalized. So, I considered it as a possible 2013 publication. But, it was published online in Fall 2012 and emailed Jeffrey Kuznekoff (Ohio University) if he would doing anything more with the data.


The goal of this study is to determine how gamers’ reactions to male voices differ from reactions to female voices. The authors conducted an observational study with an experimental design to play in and record multiplayer matches (N = 245) of a video game. The researchers played against 1,660 unique gamers and broadcasted pre-recorded audio clips of either a man or a woman speaking. Gamers’ reactions were digitally recorded, capturing what was said and heard during the game. Independent coders were used to conduct a quantitative content analysis of game data. Findings indicate that, on average, the female voice received three times as many negative comments as the male voice or no voice. In addition, the female voice received more queries and more messages from other gamers than the male voice or no voice.

When I saw the numbers, this would require a tremendous undertaking to transcribe and code the messages. Continue reading

Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk: The mysoginistic response to her Kickstarter

Link to her TED talk.

Gender has become my second line of research, specifically masculinity, as I find it quite interesting to examine. Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic who maintains a youtube channel called Feminist Frequency. She started a kickstarter campaign asking the public for funding on a content analysis of female videogame characters examining tropes. A backlash ensued which generates a great deal of data (from my perspective) about men and videogames. Her TED talk was just recently posted. (I can’t seem to embed her video)

A few research notes to myself and other communication scientists: Find someone who can do Spiral of Silence (see Noelle-Neuman, 1974). Moral disengagement & Dehumanization (Rudman & Mescher, 2012). Theoretical testing between sexual harassment theories (see Pina et al., 2009 for review) and computer-mediated theories (SIDE) for sexual harassment behaviours on the internet so I can have some ideas of what questions to ask later.

Watch me beat up a videogame prostitute: causal effects on men’s beliefs on rape (Beck et al., 2012)

When I saw that article pop up in my inbox months ago, I was pretty excited to see this type of study published. The last time I read something similar was back in 2010 by Mike Yao and colleagues and another by Karen Dill in 2008. This study is published by Victoria Simpson Beck (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh) and colleagues in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Interestingly, the last author (Eric Beck) is a Master’s student in the psychology department.


Current research suggests a link between negative attitudes toward women and violence against women, and it also suggests that media may condition such negative attitudes. When considering the tremendous and continued growth of video game sales, and the resulting proliferation of sexual objectification and violence against women in some video games, it is lamentable that there is a dearth of research exploring the effect of such imagery on attitudes toward women. This study is the first study to use actual video game playing and control for causal order, when exploring the effect of sexual exploitation and violence against women in video games on attitudes toward women. By employing a Solomon Four-Group experimental research design, this exploratory study found that a video game depicting sexual objectification of women and violence against women resulted in statistically significant increased rape myths acceptance (rape supportive attitudes) for male study participants but not for female participants.

However, when I read it I became very skeptical of its conclusions that I asked others for their thoughts and I delayed posting my review for several months as I am worried how this study will be received. Continue reading

Women play less videogames because it is meant for men: A third-person effect explanation (Cruea & Park, 2012)

Gender equality in videogames starts at childhood, but when does it end?

As a videogame researcher, I found the lack of videogame skills and motivations among my female participants quite distressful. Despite the many voices praising videogames as a great creative outlet and a medium that liberates one’s self into a sea of identities, girls and women don’t play videogame as often and as well as the boys and men and this betrays this sense of liberalisation. Here is some related posts from Kotaku and from the Escapist.

Mark Cruea (Ohio Northern University) and Sung-Yeon Park (Bowling Green University) offered an explanation as to why women don’t play videogames using the third person effect as a basis.


This study took a close look at the mechanism behind gender disparity in video game usage by examining two perceptual variables: perceptions about others’ video game usage and perceived influence of unrealistic video game character images on others. Both men and women perceived that young women play video games far less frequently than young men and also considered themselves less influenced by the unrealistic images than others. In addition, women, in comparison to men, perceived the video game images to have stronger influences on others. Furthermore, regression analyses revealed that perceived frequency of other women’s video game play and perceived influence of the images on other women explained women’s actual time spent on video games, but not men’s time spent on video games. A discussion of these findings was provided, along with suggestions for video game developers, parents, educators, and video game researchers.

I have a very difficult time reading this article and the intricacies of the analyses often confuse me. Continue reading

The relationships between ideas of manliness, videogames and aggression (Thomas & Levant, 2012)

As soon as I saw that article in my inbox, I dropped everything and read its short ten pages.


Previous research has found a link between exposure to violent videogames and aggression. The current study investigated whether the endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology moderates this relationship in college men. The sample, 168 men, filled out a demographic questionnaire, the Male Role Norms Inventory-Revised, an adaptation of the Exposure to Violent Videogames Measure, and the Aggression Questionnaire. Exposure to violent videogames was, as expected, correlated with aggression. Endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology was also correlated with aggression. The endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology was found to moderate the relationship between exposure to violent videogames and aggression. High endorsement increased the positive linear relationship between exposure and aggression, whereas low endorsement removed this relationship.

Actually the study was so simple that the abstract is all you need to know about it. My only complaint is the Exposure to Violent videogames measure as that questionnaire asked participants how often they play from a list of 32 videogames, which was adapted from a prior study used in Germany. They should’ve went for the Olson-Ferguson videogame measure: name your favorite (5 or 20) videogames of the past 6 months and code these videogames according to the ESRB rating system. The caveat is that the study is a survey and everything is correlational, but the findings support some of the internet’s observations about manliness’s aggressiveness and violent videogames.

So, what’s next? Maybe we should stop catering to juvenile masculinity and grow up by embracing diversity.










Thomas, K., & Levant, R. (2012). Does the endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology moderate the relationship between exposure to violent video games and aggression? The Journal of Men’s Studies , 20 (1), 47-56. DOI:

Longitudinal examination of adolescents and violent videogames on dating violence (Ferguson et al., 2012)

It is nearly Valentine ’s Day and people are off on their annual ritual of reasserting their eternal love to their one true love. The bright side of a romantic relationship is fine and dandy, but I could not find anything scholarly and recent between videogames and interpersonal romance aside for some quite interesting stories of people celebrating Valentine’s Day with their virtual loved ones. The other side of romance is dating violence and February is the National Teen Dating Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. The closest piece of knowledge regarding dating violence and videogames is from Christopher J. Ferguson and colleagues (Texas A & M University), which is published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.


Background: In 2011 the field of video game violence experienced serious reversals with repudiations of the current research by the US Supreme Court and the Australian Government as non-compelling and fundamentally flawed. Scholars too have been calling for higher quality research on this issue. The current study seeks to answer this call by providing longitudinal data on youth aggression and dating violence as potential consequences of violent video game exposure using well-validated clinical outcome measures and controlling for other relevant predictors of youth aggression.

Method: A sample of 165, mainly Hispanic youth, were tested at 3 intervals, an initial interview, and 1- year and 3-year intervals.

Results: Results indicated that exposure to video game violence was not related to any of the negative outcomes. Depression, antisocial personality traits, exposure to family violence and peer influences were the best predictors of aggression-related outcomes.

Interpretation: The current study supports a growing body of evidence pointing away from video game violence use as a predictor of youth aggression. Public policy efforts, including funding, would best be served by redirecting them toward other prevention programs for youth violence.

The Jennifer Ann’s group is a great resource on dating violence including videogames helping you to identify signs of dating abuse. Continue reading