Keeping abreast of hypersexuality: A video game character content analysis

Edward Downs, Stacy L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


This study examined male and female sexuality in video game characters. The top 20, best selling console (Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation2, and Nintendo GameCube) video games from the U.S. market for fiscal year 2003 were content analyzed. The 60 video games yielded a total of 489 separate characters with an identifiable sex for coding. Chi-square analyses indicated that female characters (n=70) were underrepresented in comparison to their male counterparts (n=419) as hypothesized. In comparison to male characters, females were significantly more likely to be shown partially nude, featured with an unrealistic body image, and depicted wearing sexually revealing clothing and inappropriate attire as also predicted. Implications for these findings are discussed using social cognitive theory as a theoretical anchor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-733
Number of pages13
JournalSex Roles
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgment This research was made possible by a grant from the Annenberg School for Communication.


  • Content analysis
  • Sexuality
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Video games


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