Critical Thinking Paper Related to “A Literature Review of Research on Video Games, Perception, & Identity” by Kathleen Falcon

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Updated: Aug 17, 2023
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The article I found interesting is entitled “A Literature Review of Research on Video Games, Perception, & Identity” by Kathleen Falcon, a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In this review, she includes a lot of empirical research and identifies the three main issues in video game research. These issues are attachment & empathy, identification, and gender roles and biases.

Attachment and Empathy explain the genuine emotional connection that exists between the player and the avatar; this is called the player-avatar connection. The player spends quality time improving the avatar to such an extent that they become so attached, they eventually take the game seriously and actually place themselves in it. The relationship that develops between the avatar and the player is referred to as the avatar-player similarity. The article states that players prefer avatars that match their own personalities in non-competitive games rather than competitive ones. Falcon cited a study from Trepte and Reinecke (2010) stating that “a high level of attachment and similarity between player and avatar is positively related to a player’s identification with their avatar.”

The text reveals a relationship between a player and their self-perception. The article states that in a virtual environment, self-esteem is a critical tool in influencing the establishment of a social identity. A stereotype is a general idea of a particular person, thing, or concept – for example, race, sex, and countries etc. Video games tend to sexualize female characters, while they portray men as muscular and heroic. Falcon elaborates on this topic in the section entitled, “Gender Bias and the formation of Sex Roles”. These representations affect people’s perception and attitude towards female reality. In the video world, female avatars are portrayed as violent with sexual appeal, while males are portrayed as violent with athletic body types. These representations have negative impacts on society due to the inherent stereotypes regarding both gender appearances and the perceived norms amongst video players and other audiences.

According to an article on, thinking critically means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought-out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions to which you are exposed, but rather have an attitude that involves questioning such arguments and conclusions. There are eight guidelines to successful critical thinking, and Falcon has done a good job using these guides. The first guide is to ask questions. This entails examining questions that have not yet been answered by experts, analyzing these questions, and asking the “why” and “how”. In the first section of the article under Attachment & Empathy, Falcon seems to be wondering if she asked a few rhetorical questions: “How do people become attached or attracted to their avatars? Is it love at first sight, or does it take days, weeks, or months in the player-avatar relationship?” After posing these questions, she then conducts research studies.

The next guideline is to “Define Problem”. It’s advisable to operationally define your terms rather than using generalized terms or vague words. There wasn’t much use of operational definitions, but Falcon did define avatars in the video game world. There weren’t many unnecessary definitions, and the terms used were all appropriate. For instance, instead of saying “player relation with the avatar”, she used specific terms like “player-avatar connection”, “player-avatar similarity”, etc. Falcon did an outstanding job examining her evidence; in fact, a majority of the essay contained reliable and valid empirical data. She employed descriptive statistics to present the data. This is observable under the “Gender Bias and Formation of Sex Roles” (53) section, where she compared two studies and explained the data, stating that, “…in the sample of one study, they constituted 60%”. Whenever she proposes an idea, she uses evidence that either supports or refutes the argument and oppositions. For example, under “Formation of Sex Roles”, she referred to a 2012 study that postulated that the sexualization, presence, and centrality of a female character influenced game sales.

She spoke about the results, stating, “The findings of this study indicate that games tend to include either no characters or one or more male characters on the box art.” Falcon’s findings largely supported her ideas; this represents a form of confirmation bias because she disregards evidence that contradicts her theories. The fourth critical thinking guideline recommends analyzing assumptions and biases, which involves objective observations. Falcon was unwilling to consider evidence that contradicted her beliefs. Assumptions were neither presented nor evaluated. There was no emotional reasoning whatsoever. This is usually the case in discussions about gender bias and gender roles, but Falcon did not use any language suggesting that females are misrepresented more than males. Terms such as ‘sexual’ and ‘violent’ were used for women, while for men she referred to as ‘athletic’ and ‘muscular.’ Other terms would not be appropriate as these are all true based on studies. She did not demonstrate a passionate commitment to a view, hence she avoided emotional reasoning. She never declared, “I feel this way” or “In my opinion,” as this would affect reasoning and results.

The sixth rule is: do not oversimplify, in other words, avoid generalizations. In critical thinking, it’s good to consider other interpretations – this is the seventh rule. Before Falcon drew conclusions from any evidence, she included other explanations and findings. Under “gender bias” (page 53), she compared two studies: an older study in 2007 (M. Burgess, Stermer, & S. Burgess), which stated that “video game console covers featured male characters almost 4 times more frequently than female characters and were given more relevant roles”, to a recent study done by Lynch, Tompkins, van, Driel, & Fritz, 2016, in which the results were “when female characters were presented, they were given secondary roles and there was a positive correlation between character…” She continued to add more research, then drew her conclusions. Lastly, the eighth guideline to critical thinking is to tolerate uncertainty. This means testing or modifying theories and data. It is acceptable to be uncertain about a perfect answer to your problem. There was no apparent uncertainty in this review, but she included suggestions for future research. Falcon seemed confident in all her findings.

This essay was different, which is good. It would be a better essay if at least one of the findings contradicted her hypothesis. People who have done research about video games commonly discuss its influence on the player’s real-world behavior or its psychological consequences. However, Falcon approached this research from a different perspective. She did not focus on the negative or positive influences of video games, but instead addressed the consequences of the key themes in video game research — Attachment & Empathy, Identification, Gender Biases, and the Formation of Sex Roles. The review was not attempting to argue or turn teenagers against video games; it explained certain theories about why humans become attached to video games and spend lengthy hours playing. It further explored how video games influence our society’s perception of males and females. She did not largely include personal opinion, instead relying on scientific research to explain the results and bolster her point. The essay provided a concise understanding of the effects of video games on human behavior. The essay exhibited some confirmation bias as alternative research was not considered. This is not best practice for researchers as it could skew results and devalue information that contradicts a theory. It seems that Falcon only searched for information that confirmed and supported her hypotheses.

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Critical Thinking Paper Related To “A Literature Review of Research on video Games, Perception, & identity” by Kathleen Falcon. (2022, Aug 17). Retrieved from