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Research,  August 03, 2009

Video Game Minority Report: Lots Of Players, Few Characters

"If the future of entertainment is interactive media, some minorities are still headed back to the past.

The first comprehensive survey of video game characters, encompassing the top 150 games in a year across nine platforms and all rating levels, and weighted by each title's popularity, shows that the video game industry does no better than television in representing American society.

In some cases, video games do worse, said study leader Dmitri Williams, a social psychologist and assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

In his study, Williams cited research showing Latinos are making modest gains on television.

By contrast, fewer than 3 percent of video game characters were recognizably Hispanic, and all of them were non-playable, background characters.
Imagine if no Latino on television had a speaking part.

'Latino children play more video games than white children. And they're really not able to play themselves,' Williams said. 'For identity formation, that's a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve.'

'Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math.'
Women, Native Americans, children and the elderly also were underrepresented. For example, only 10 percent of playable characters surveyed were female, though women now make up 40 percent of video game players.

African-Americans appeared in proportion to their numbers in the real world, but mainly in sports games and in titles that reinforce stereotypes."

URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090729140931.htm
Posted by wrivenburgh on August 03, 2009 | Research
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