Stereotyping in online games

Open Google in two tabs

Type games for girls in one

Type games for boys in the next

Count the number of sites which have stereotyped the two. – Innumerable.

All game sites have two new categories – Girls games and Boys games.

Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people which can be positive or negative, such as when various nationalities are stereotyped as friendly or unfriendly. The most common stereotyping occurs on the basis of gender. Most of us suffer from stereotype threats as people from stereotyped groups experience an apprehension (stereotype threat) of being treated unfairly.

Media stereotypes, esp. in advertising are bound to occur as products are specific for use of a particular target audience. It is this factor that has made the gaming sites hugely popular. Game designs are made on specific target audience demands.

A basic principle in needs analysis is to identify target audience and profile this target audience. All good elearning products are pointless without this principle. However, design output in the gaming sites has resulted in negative stereotyping and fact that it perpetuates social injustice and prejudice.

Girls gaming sites are mostly pink, with emphasis on cooking, dressing up, salon and such other games on activities and skills, traditionally associated with a woman.

Boys gaming sites are black or green, with emphasis on action, sports, war, and fighting.

In real life, women are enrolled in the army. In real world women are very much competing with men on equal terms. While gender sensitivity will always be an issue, most gender differences are fast becoming a myth and only the physical characteristics define the difference.

But in the virtual world, we seem to be more comfortable with the gender specific scenarios. While the games tackle basic skill building and are suitable in some cases for young kids who are at the ‘gender-awareness’ stage, it does make the girls think that that girls cook while guys play.

Well,unless that is the kind of mental makeup that you want for your child, I suggest you avoid the sites. And ensure that your child avoids them too. After all parental locks are pretty useful in all cases, right?


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