GOOD

This 31-Year Survey Says Video Games Are (Finally!) Less Sexist

“Women don’t like to be seen as sex objects”

The 2013 version of Lara Croft wears layers. Image via tombraiderwiki

The video gaming world is notorious for objectifying women, whether they’re players, creators, experts, or characters. But a comprehensive study by principal author Teresa Lynch and her team of researchers at Indiana University turned up some surprising good news. Published last month in the Journal of Communications, Lynch’s report “Sexy, Strong, and Secondary” charts the representation of 571 lead female characters in video games between 1989 and 2014, tracking instances of nakedness, exaggerated breast size, unnaturally thin waists, and other gratuitous physical details.


Average sexualization of characters by year of release. Screenshot via "Sexy, Strong, and Secondary"

The study finds that such instances peaked in the mid-nineties. Lynch writes that, "We attribute this decline to an increasing female interest in gaming coupled with the heightened criticism levied at the industry’s arguably male [dominance]."

Elijah Blythe, a full-time gamer and freelance researcher of artificial intelligence in the United Kingdon, agrees. “One of the biggest barriers to constructive conversations within the industry is the perception that games are played primarily by teenage boys,” he says. “This has affected not only those who are making games, those who want to play games, but also if someone wants to get involved in the industry as a whole… Spend some time looking into who actually plays computer games and who actually buys them, and you quickly come to the conclusion that in reality, there are just as many women as men."

Tomb Raider's Lara Croft between 1996 and 2008. Image via tombraiderwiki

A 2014 study from the Internet Advertising Bureau found that 52 percent of the gaming audience are girls and women. Which might be one reason that characters like Lara Croft, the star of the Tomb Raider series and arguably the most popular and recognizable female character in the history of video games, have evolved so much over the years. Conceptualized by a group a male developers, Lara's tiny waist, skimpy outfit, and huge bust (rumor has it, those breasts are three times larger than anticipated thanks to a game developer’s “slip of the mouse”) have turned her into an icon, as has Angelina Jolie’s turn as the character in the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

But Lara’s since had a makeover. In 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider turned into less of a sex object and more of an athletic badass who could fight as well—oftentimes better—than any man.

Still, the gaming industry has a long way to go. Lynch’s study finds that though female characters in video games are becoming more well-rounded and less sexualized, there are fewer women in lead roles than ever before—when they’re present, they’re more likely to be secondary characters. And that means, as Tech Insider notes, side characters like the prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto weren’t part of Lynch’s analysis at all.

“Women don’t like to be seen as sex objects,” Lynch told PBS. “When they don’t feel like game content positively reflects [their sex], they’re not interested… The game industry has been very receptive in trying to involve more women. It’s having more open conversations [about sexism] than ever before.”

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading