Research 8- Players and Body Image

Another article I found, “The Impact of Body Emphasizing Video Games on Body Image Concerns in Men and Women” published in Sex Roles in 2008, highlights the fact stated in its title: apparently, body image is of a concern for both male and female players. The link here:

Created characters, for instance, are sometimes “enhanced versions” of the players making them. This study seems to have found that games impact players thoughts of their own body image. It mentions that a lot of body image study had been done using “female examples,” and one can easily find examples of Photoshop touch-ups and fixes to make models look impossibly beautiful on Youtube. I found this interesting because, while playing Mass Effect, my friends and fellow gamers have made numerous comments on the in game characters’ appearances and sexuality.

In several chats with a female player I play ME3 multiplayer with frequently, I have heard that there are a great many male players who find the all-female Asari race especially attractive. Their race somewhat symbolizes “the epitome of femininity” in the game, and Shepard’s singleplayer squadmate Liara also has a highlighted sex scene near the end of the game (as in the scene is a little longer and more, shall I say, “detailed,” than those with other squadmates,) should either Shepard or Femshep choose to romance her. There appears to be more of the model-type females in this game than there are males, and I wonder what kind of effect that has, and whether it agrees with this study.

Interestingly, they used WWE (WWF, at the time) Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64- a very dated game with graphics that cannot stand up to today’s standards. I also wonder if a modern game were used, one with more detail, would that have an even stronger effect? The reason they cited was the character creation- they were able to create characters specific body images for players to fight against (a really strong muscular character and a very obese character for the males), and most modern games did not have this capability, so they said.

I’m honestly surprised to see body image has such a connection with video games.



2 thoughts on “Research 8- Players and Body Image”

  1. I’m not quite surprised to see that video games are plagued with the desire for perfect body image. This goes beyond video games and can be seen on t.v, in magazines, and even in real life. People are never satisfied with the way they looked because they are constantly trying to keep up with societies version of “acceptable” and “appealing”.

    I’m especially not shocked to see this in video games because I think in video games, people feel that its a utopic society. You have the freedom to become whomever you want to be and in a sense, develop who your true self is. Trying to achieve a perfect body image would not be surprising in a video game. I am glad that someone is doing research on this.

  2. Going solely off of Mass Effect, I think I remember a quote somewhere from one of the creators stating that the asari were created to be the “hot alien chick” in order to sell to that fanbase but also tried to make them highly advanced and intelligent to try to counteract what’s on the surface. I think ME specifically tries very hard to make more than one dimensional female characters, so much so that sometimes their male characters suffer (ie James or Jacob). One thing that I noticed while playing the ME games was not necessarily that everyone was pretty, but that they were fit. However, I was able to justify this by assuming that in the future there are easier and more affordable weight loss options and weight gaining preventatives.

    For games as a whole, however, I think kadeejah7295 is right in that we use video games as an avatar for who we want to be. No one wants to be obese and no one wants to be unattractive and if there was a real life option to make yourself however you want with the push of a button, who wouldn’t take it?

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