Gender Identity

Introduction


There is a growing belief that gender identity is a product of social construct. According to sociologists, social behavior is an acquired behavior and not an inherited behavior. Sociologists, therefore, view gender identity as an acquired behavior which is influenced by an individual’s society. In this regard, gender identity is formed through gender socialization. According to Crossman, gender identity can be defined as one’s identification as either a man or a woman (Crossman, 2017). Gender identity dictates one’s social behavior and influences how people talk, dress and present themselves to the public.


Digital game industry plays a critical role in shaping gender identity in today’s societies. A study by Terlecki et al (2010) showed that girls and women are increasingly being influenced by the representation of female characters in the video game. The authors argue that even though the current statistics show that still more men and boys are playing video games, girls and women are also gaining interests in virtual game plays (Terlecki et al., 2010). This paper will use a case study to examine to what extent girls and women are influenced by female characters in the video games. With the new trend, it is obvious that the female characters in the digital game League of Legends have influenced girls and women.


Problem Statement


A majority of the women and girls endure constant prejudice despite persistent effort by the gender to fifth for equality in all aspect of life. Some of the problems women face includes lack of clear role models which could be emulated as the struggle to emerge from the gender stigmatization. The present world provides a wide range of influence which could distract women from choosing an appropriate role model and path to follow and stamp their authority as human beings despite being women. On line sources such as video games add onto the many environment based role models which women could use to attain better recognition in the society.


Hypotheses:

  1. Girls and women are greatly influenced by the female characters in the video games
  2. Social environment greatly influence self-identity of girls and women and girls.
    Theoretical Framework (Social Science Theory)
    In support of the hypotheses, the study will use social science theories that explain the social construction of gender identity. They include; feminist, social learning and critical theories. Feminist theory is the study of the social structure of the society from the woman’s viewpoint in order to remove barriers and forces that cause gender inequalities. Feminists, therefore, concern themselves with the study of how the present social institutions are contributing to the biasness of gender identity. Social learning theory, on the other hand, attempts to explain how individual’s formation of self is influenced by the social acquired behavior. According to social learning theorists, an individual’s self-identity is a learned behavior stimulated by social stimuli, and; therefore, not an inherited behavior (Crossman, 2017). In this regard, social learning theory helps us to understand how women and girls acquired their gender identity from the society. Critical theory, like other theories, aims at critiquing the traditional social structures and attempt to change them to better social structures that makes the society to achieve its full potential.

Methodology


The study design used incorporated game play and participant observation method to collect data. Participant observation is often used as research methodology in social sciences. It involves taking notes and recording such things as voices and sounds as well as observation of images and behaviors. The study participants were girls and women and they selected randomly. Those who had started playing the game a week before the study were excluded from the study.


Observation, Analysis and Findings


The research involved visiting locations that League of Legends is mostly popular. The data was collected through observation of participants playing the games and interviewing some of the participants. The main focus was on how playing the game of league of legend influenced the respondents’ social behavior? The following survey has been developed to obtain results:

  1. Are you addicted to the League of Legends?
    Yes/No
  2. Are you inspired with the female characters in the game?
    Yes/No*
    *If not, what characters from real life inspire you the most?
  3. How do you consider the outfits of the female characters in the game? Positively/Negatively (*Add detailed comments please)
  4. Would you dress like the characters in the game or imitate some features of their style in real life?
    Yes/No/Maybe* (*Please explain in detail)
  5. Is your perception of gender roles challenged by the female characters in the game?
    Yes/No
    The following findings were obtained about the game. The league is a multiplayer game that fall in the category of violence games commonly referred to Multi Online Battle Arena (MOBA) (Giant Bomb). The League of Legends has a total of thirty characters in the games with approximately 13 female characters. The physical representation of female characters is more seductive, charming, highly sexualized and innocent.
    The interview conducted and data collected from the participants were analyzed and findings were obtained. First, among the participants interviewed, 70% responded that they were addicted to the League of Legends game. About 69% of participants reported that they were inspired with the female characters in the game. When a question on how they considered the outfits of the female characters in the game, 51% reported that the outfits were “cool”. Another 34% reported that they would love to dress the same; however, they were afraid of being negatively judged by the society. Most girls reported that their perception of gender roles had been challenged by the female characters in the game.
    Discussion
    The game League of Legends is a game that unlike traditional combat games also includes female characters in the fight. The female characters are given considerably same abilities and skills as their male counterparts. From the findings, it can be noted that the game of League of Legends has a great influence on gender identity. Most women have borrowed from the dressing styles of some of their favorite female characters in the play (Cassell and Jenkins). Pink lipsticks were easily observed in some women and girls who were regular players of the game. This shows that women and girls’ social behavior is learned from the everyday experiences they have within the society. The women and girls who played the game were willing to take part in traditionally male perceived gender roles (Jenson and Castel). This study is a confirmation that women and girls are greatly influenced by the video games. Girls and women tend to behave only within the limits that society has allowed. This is brought out in the representation of female characters in the League of Legends that tend to give females equality and power as males but, on the other hand, retains the stereotypic view of women as sex objects.
    Conclusion
    Female characters in video games have greatly influenced girls and women’s social behavior. Digital games have become critical tool for social construction of gender identity in modern society. League of Legends is a case in point that has included female characters with almost equal abilities as their male counterparts. However, the game has had a considerably great influence on the social behavior in women and girls. With these conclusions, the paper provides a number of recommendations. First, digital gaming industry should employ more feminists and women to develop games that give a reflection of the real position of the female gender in the society. Secondly, better policies and guidelines should be developed that govern digital gaming industry on how both the male and female characters are constructed in relation to gender equality. Third, there is need for digital gaming industry to use a non-biased gender lens to come up with games that positively influenced social behavior of women and girls. Finally, more research in the area of gender identity and video games is recommended to shed more light on the influence of video games in the social construction of gender identity.

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