Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Wendy Simonds

Second Advisor

Dr. Mindy Stombler

Third Advisor

Dr. Dawn Baunach

Abstract

Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry; 67% of households in the United States have at least one game player. The considerable reach of this medium makes it crucial to assess the messages that audiences are taking away concerning gender in these games. In this content analysis, I investigate the representation of binary gender in the narratives of modern video games from the perspective of cultivation theory. Ten popular games from 2007 through 2013 are selected for this investigation. The characteristics of each game’s main character are evaluated in the context of the narrative to uncover emergent trends, tropes, and themes over the course of gameplay. Men outnumber women in protagonist roles, and women serve as catalysts for the central conflicts throughout the narrative. Gaming narratives also tend to embody the male power fantasy trope, with both male and female protagonists becoming masculinized through the story’s progression.

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