Effects of gender on perception and interpretation of video game character behavior and emotion

Neesha Desai, Richard Zhao, Duane Szafron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Gender in video games is a popular topic. However, the focus is usually on how gender is portrayed within games. In this paper, we examine the effects of players' gender on the perception of virtual character behavior and emotion based on the results of two user studies involving story-based games. The first study compared players' perception of virtual character behaviors. We analyzed perceived differences both by gender and by gaming experience. In this study, we found that female gamers were more appreciative of complex behaviors than male gamers. In the second study, we examined the influence of gender on player' ability to identify the emotion being displayed by a virtual character. We found that most emotions were identified comparably, with the exception of anger. Female players were significantly better at identifying angry characters compared tomale players.We also investigated any perception differences between emotions expressed by male and female virtual characters, but we did not identify any statistically significant differences. Overall, the studies suggest that there are differences in how male and female players perceive virtual characters, and if game designers want players to perceive these characters in a certain way, they should consider the gender of targeted players.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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