Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Sport Studies

Major Professor

Joy DeSensi

Committee Members

Robin Hardin, Michelle Violanti


The purpose of this study was to investigate the roles and portrayal of female characters in popular sports video games. The 15 best-selling sports games of 2005 were played by the researcher without a time-limit or specified path within the game. Gameplay was videotaped and analyzed using a qualitative, descriptive participant- observation model (Glesne, 2006). This method is unique to video game analysis, as previous studies have used quantitative methods. Gameplay was typically about three hours for each game, and copious notes were taken during gameplay. Roles were then analyzed using a framework from previous work in both sports media and video game studies. Major themes found in the games were 1) an overall lack of female characters which was 2) based in the tension video games media creates between fantasy and simulation. Games on both sides of this fantasy/simulation spectrum had greatly varying portrayals of female characters. New technology such as the emerging ability to put users in the game as characters is important to the rapid evolution of video games. Increasing graphical and processing power of next-generation game consoles gives developers the ability to allow more user-created content rather than rely on generating pre-defined characters and roles, regardless of gender.

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