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Digital games are increasingly popular and one of the main forms of entertainment in our society nowadays, as over 60% of U.S. households have at least one person who plays digital games for three hours or more per week. In addition, contrary to popular belief, gaming is not popular only among men: 41% of gamers (i.e. game players) are female, meaning that digital games are played almost equally by both men and women. (ESA 2016: 2–3). Most gamers are still male, however, and some research has been made on the reasons behind the lack of female gamers. First, gaming is considered as a masculine activity, because technology in general is associated with masculine culture; moreover, women are thought to be technologically inferior (Bryce and Rutter 2002: 252). Second, video games are dominated by ‘masculine’ themes and violence (Bryce and Rutter 2002: 246), as can be seen in the bestselling game genres of 2015, which are shooters, action games, and sports games (ESA 2016: 10). However, there are female gamers who are also interested in these genres. Instead, it is suggested by a variety of studies that the reason could be related to the nature of the character portrayal in digital games: the lack of female characters and their sexualization might discourage girls and women from playing digital games and participating in game culture in general (e.g. Bryce and Rutter 2002). Indeed, as shown by previous research, women have been underrepresented and sexualized in video games throughout the years (e.g. Dietz 1998; Lynch, Tompkins, van Driel, and Fritz 2016). However, in the recent years, women have been portrayed in more diverse and dominant roles than earlier: there is evidence of the so-called Lara phenomenon, i.e. strong and capable female characters are appearing in dominant positions (Jansz and Martis 2007: 142). Nevertheless, even the stronger, more capable female characters in dominant positions are still sexualised, and despite the Lara phenomenon female characters are more likely to be sexualised secondary characters, although less than earlier and less than has been suggested in the earlier studies (Lynch et al. 2016: 11–12, 17). In addition, female characters appear rarely on video game covers and magazines, and they are usually portrayed as sex objects in both of them (Burgess, Stermer, and Burgess 2007; Fisher 2015); moreover, female characters might not be included in the marketing campaign at all, especially if they are not sexualised (Kondrat 2015: 189). 

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