Gaming Study Action Steps


Action Steps for Industry Leaders

  1. Create playable characters that reflect the broader population. Review how identities represented on screen (gender identities, races, sexual orientations, ability status, ages, and body sizes) match up to the broader population. Make sure that characters are not tokenized or stereotyped based on their identities.
  2. Avoid sexualization and objectification of female characters. Create playable female characters that are equal in skill and ability to their male peers. Female characters should be equipped with clothing and armor that fits their tasks. Avoid exaggerated body proportions.
  3. Boost and promote underrepresented streamers. Diversify the gaming ecosystem by helping underrepresented streamers reach broader audiences.
  4. Show male and female characters working together. Boys who have positive, female friendships are building relationships based on respect from an early age. Characters on-screen can model these positive relationships by working together.
  5. Allow male characters to express a full range of emotions. When the story allows, show male characters who display a full range of emotions, including joy, sadness, and vulnerability.
  6. Take moderation and reporting seriously. Strengthen platform moderation tools and enforce consequences for those who violate guidelines.
  7. Develop a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. Market research shows that modern consumers are increasingly concerned with corporate social responsibility. Develop a CSR with attention to issues of diversity, inclusion, and in-game violence.
  8. Re-examine gaming depictions of gun violence. Consider how detailed depictions of weapons can serve as marketing for gun manufacturers. Given the prevalence of gun violence, it is imperative that the gaming industry examine its own relation to gun manufacturers.
  9. Get creative. The growing popularity of e-sports and interactive gaming illustrate the power of games to bring people together. Ask yourself, “How can we create engaging, competitive, team-focused games without the use of gratuitous violence?”
  10. Include awards for social responsibility at The Game Awards. The gaming industry should recognize and celebrate games, developers, and platforms that are succeeding at creating inclusive environments.

Action Steps for Parents

  1. Challenge your own expectations of how men and women should act, and model the behaviors you want to encourage. If you feel that boys really should or shouldn’t do a certain thing because they are a boy, ask yourself, “Why?” The best way to show your son how to grow up to be a respectful, healthy, connected person is to model those qualities.
  2. Call out harmful stereotypes when you see them. When you see narrow depictions of masculinity on screen, use it as an opportunity for discussion.
  3. Talk openly about your own fears, uncertainties, and disappointments. In age appropriate ways, make it clear that you believe everyone has the right to share how they are feeling. Parents can model how to share difficult feelings, in healthy ways, communicating permission to a boy to do the same.
  4. Acknowledge the particular challenges boys feel about being vulnerable, and the courage it takes for them to be open. In those moments when a child opens up to you, listen without judging, and help them to feel safe. Using phrases like “don’t cry” or “you have to be tough” can discourage boys from opening up in the future.
  5. Speak up when you hear disrespectful comments off screen. If grandparents, cousins, or family friends say something problematic: sexist, racist, homophonic, transphobic or otherwise, speak up at that moment and have a conversation about your values. You could say, “We believe it’s important to treat everyone with respect.”
  6. Acknowledge and talk about video game violence. The frequency and normality of violence in video games cannot be ignored. Repeatedly viewing violence, whether in games or other forms of media, can desensitize viewers. Help your child tap into empathy by asking: how would you feel if this was happening to me or someone I care about in real life?
  7. Identify positive role models on and off screen. Identify role models–of all genders–who exemplify positive, healthy, respectful behavior and emotional expression, and whose interests, jobs, and opinions challenge harmful stereotypes.
  8. Recognize that modern day gaming is an interactive experience. The gaming experience is about more than what you see in-game. It includes tuning into live-streams, engaging with others, and using a shared language. Parents should speak to their children about expectations around all aspects of gaming.
  9. Talk to boys about sportsmanship. Hold the same expectations about digital sportsmanship as you would in face-to-face sports or competitions. Encourage boys to think, “Would I say or do this if I was face to face with this person?”
  10. Encourage critical media consumption. As with all forms of media, parents should encourage boys to be critical consumers of video games. Remind children that all media is carefully crafted with particular intentions. Encourage kids to ask: what would the consequences of this action be if it occurred in real life? Is this encouraging me to purchase something? How would I feel if this was happening to me or someone I care about?

Previous Action Steps created for the Masculinity in TV Study


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