Research has unearthed an abundance of objectification and hypersexualization of female characters within video games. However, the recurring element of the damsel in distress trope is also harmful to the medium. This clichÃ© of a helpless princess in need of a man to save her is a recurring element of The Legend of Zelda series. This experimental design tested the effects of a prototypical œsave the princess mission on players agreement to sexist statements on gender roles, objectification, and female dependency, and examined the factors of self-efficacy and gamer status as potential mediators. Participants played a modified version of a classic Legend of Zelda game, where the genders of the hero protagonist and damsel are manipulated. This 2 x 2 study included male and female heroes rescuing male and female victims in the four different cells. Immediately following the experiment, participants then took a post-test survey to gauge if there was any difference on their agreement to sexist statements. These results were also compared to their previous responses on their self-efficacy scores and their gamer status.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Communications
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hansen, Jared Capener, "Why Can't Zelda Save Herself? How the Damsel in Distress Trope Affects Video Game Players" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 7304.
video games, media effects, Zelda, social learning theory, gender schema theory, feminism