From Time ByIt can be easy to objectify women in some popular video games. In some games, you can even have your character pay a woman for sex and then kill her, if you are so inclined. Now, a new study out Wednesday reports that boys who play the kind of games where “women are secondary characters … who are used as sexual objects by players” show diminished empathy toward female victims.
The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, randomly assigned 154 male and female high schoolers to play one of three types of games: video games that the researchers say contained both violence and sexism (two Grand Theft Auto games), games with violence but without sexism (Half Life 1 or Half Life 2), and games without violence or sexism (Dream Pinball 3D or Q.U.B.E 2).
After they played the game, the researchers asked them how much they identified with the character they were controlling. They also showed them a photo of an adolescent girl whom they were told had been physically beaten by an adolescent boy. They were asked them how compassionate they felt toward her.