A study indicates that German public television channels hold still a significant bias when covering video games. The media coverage focuses on presenting violent games played by young to teenage male gamers, resisting to objectively illustrate the diversity of players’ genders, ages and types of games. According to Bigl and Schlegelmilch (2020), in the past, the media had the tendency to link school shootings and violent video games together, which could play a role in contemporary video game media coverage.
Even though 48% of players are female in Germany, results show that two-thirds of players in the media coverage were males. The study speculates that the marginalization of relatable in-game female characters and the stereotyped presentation of femininity in games could impact that. Furthermore, 58,7% of players in the media were young, one-third middle-aged and only 6.3% over 50 years old, all this although the average player age in Germany is 36 years old. Moreover, about 50% of covered game sequences possessed violent elements, despite the vast diversity of genres that German players play, for example, casual, action, strategy and social networking games. However, the researchers point out that dramatic pictures hold the value of being good journalism and impacting the story told.
Additionally, the study hypothesized that politicians play a significant role in being in the spotlight when games were discussed in the media, possibly influencing the broader discourse. However, results showed that business representatives and players were the most represented group with 28.2% and 23,8%, respectively, suggesting that video games are presented mainly in the economic context. Politicians held only the position of 8.1% in the results.
Bigl and Schlegelmilch issue the concern of biased media coverage affecting the unconscious transfer of moral and ethical values, patterns and general knowledge, especially in the media’s representation of gender and professions. Indeed, when Germany banned the original DOOM in 1993, media coverage and public discourse quickly adopted the term ‘killerspiel‘ (eng. murderer game) when referred to violent video games.
The study conducted an empirical and quantitative analysis on the coverages of three major public television channels to find relevant information. The data was collected from university archives, online libraries of the channels and YouTube in the timespan from January 2009 to September 2018. Data samples were coded according to research questions and hypotheses considering the reported groups’ status, gender, age, and the games’ violence.
Bigl, B., & Schlegelmilch, C. (2020). Are Video Games Still a Boys’ Club? How German Public Television Covers Video Games. Games and Culture. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412020975637
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