Exploring stereotypical perceptions of female players in digital gaming contexts

Linda Kaye, Claire Gresty, Natasha Stubbs- Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
179 Downloads (Pure)


Gender stereotypes are still reported to exist in digital gaming contexts, despite the fact that participation of females is relatively equal to that of males. The current research explored a number of factors and their impact upon stereotypical perceptions and attitudes towards female players. This included; avatar gender, gender identity by gaming context, as well as more general gender-role beliefs. We undertook two studies, each utilising an online questionnaire targeted towards online players. Study 1 recruited online gamers (N= 489), and compared competence perceptions of players which varied by player gender (male, female) and avatar gender (male, female), whereby four conditions were established. Overall, player competence was perceived to be highest when male avatars were used, specifically when female players were depicted in this way. Study 2 explored the relationships between male social identity and gender-role beliefs, with sexist attitudes in gaming, and whether this varied by gaming context (MMO vs FPS). Male online gamers (N = 193) were recruited, of which 112 were MMO players and 81 were FPS players. It was found that identifying as male social identity was not related to sexist attitudes in either gaming context. However, more general gender-role beliefs were related to sexist attitudes. The findings indicate that although certain stereotypes exist (e.g., competence perceptions), these are not necessarily harvested by players’ identities within communities but may derive through more operational functions such as avatar gender.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking
Issue number12
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2017


  • Gender swapping
  • digital games
  • gender
  • competence
  • sexism
  • context


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