Blame the Players, Don’t Blame the Games: Why We Should Worry Less About Sexist Video Game Content and Focus More on Interactions Between Players

  • Johannes BreuerEmail author


Both collected anecdotal evidence from video game players and the results of academic studies have shown that sexism is an issue in video game culture. More specifically, sexism has been found to be common in two areas: (1) video game content and (2) interactions between players in online games. While it might seem logical to assume that these two are causally connected, the available empirical evidence suggests that the relationship between sexist video game content and sexism in interactions between players is more complex than a simple chain of cause and effect. This chapter reviews existing conceptual and empirical work on sexism and video games to arrive at a more nuanced view of this topic. Neither sexist video game content nor sexist attitudes and behavior are monolithic things. They come in different forms, all of which are likely to have different causes as well as different effects on the players. These differences need to be taken into account when studying the relationship between sexism and video games. Importantly, results from cultivation studies on the effects of video game content on real-life attitudes and behavior show that these are extremely limited or even nonexistent. Together with reports from players and study findings on misogyny and sexual harassment among online players, this suggests that research on video games and sexism should focus more on interactions between real people and less on fictional content. This also has implications for the development of measures that aim to reduce sexism in video game culture.


Sexism Sexual harassment Misogyny Cultivation 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social SciencesKölnGermany

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