Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University

Paper Information

TitleAgeism in Video Games: The Relationship Between Age and Character Roles
Presenter(s)Alexander Hambly and Matthew Heerdegen
SessionIdentity in Games
TimeThursday, October 20, 11:00a-12:00p
LocationLake Ontario
FormatPaper Presentation
DescriptionIn our society people often unconsciously establish a list of tropes and archetypes for other people and events in our lives. These tropes establish a series of stereotypes along with a certain status quo within both the media and reality for how characters and, by extension, the people they represent should act. Society is adept at creating stereotypes that are often accepted unconsciously as the norm in our world. These stereotypes form from misrepresentation in media and they can be very harmful. Misrepresentation of groups in media often stems from negative or limited roles that are assigned to characters representing them. The research question at the center of this study was: what relationship, if any, is there between age and the role characters are assigned in video games? The results show that while there were no elderly characters in a “player” role, 63% of recorded elderly characters had what qualified as ‘minor’ roles in the games played for this study. The study found 91% of characters with a determined age consisted of adults or young adults. The study also found that 73% of recorded elderly characters were male. Similar to previous data, adults were a majority in all archetypes and occupied a definitive majority of the player characters. We found that our data largely matched the results of previous studies for films, TV, and books and only differed in a few minor areas.

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