Games for Health Journal. Research, Development, and Clinical Applications vol:4 issue:2 pages:91-94
Objective: Prior research has documented favorable effects of active and educational videogames among adolescents. However, research on potential negative effects of such games is limited. Scholars have called attention to games portraying sexualized female characters. The purpose of the current study was to experimentally investigate the effect of playing a videogame with a sexualized female character on adolescents’ acceptance of rape myths and tolerance for sexual harassment.
Materials and Methods: Fifty-seven secondary school pupils, aged 12 to 15 years, participated in a 2 (gender: boys versus girls) x 2 (game character: non-sexualized versus sexualized female) factorial design experiment. Participants played a game for 15 minutes and were randomly assigned to one of the two game characters. Afterwards, they completed established scales to assess rape myth acceptance and tolerance for sexual harassment.
Results: Analyses of variance showed greater acceptance of rape myths (P = 0.039) and greater tolerance of sexual harassment (P = 0.046) in adolescents who played with the sexualized woman compared to adolescents in the control condition. We did not find significant differences between boys and girls, nor an interaction effect between gender and game character.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that playing with a sexualized woman may increase adolescents’ acceptance of rape myths and tolerance for sexual harassment. These findings highlight attention to the use of sexualized female game characters in (educational and active) videogames that target adolescents.