Who’s The Most Frequent Villain in Shooters?
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Great work Gabe!

Incredible job, love the breakdown and can't wait to see what you make next!

Who's The Most Frequent Villain in Shooters?
2 January, 2017
Brandon Valeriano and Philip Habel went to great length to conduct a real research, which could help to define the most popular threats in video games. It may seem like a silly subject to study (after all there are tons of ludicrous enemies in games), but it’s a very interesting read. Games being one of the most popular mediums on the planet, they do have a huge effect on the way people actually perceive reality and learn about the world around them. So what exactly do they learn from video games?

This is how the researchers approached their search:

To understand the framing of enemies in games, we compiled a dataset of the best-selling FPS during 2001-2013, a total of 57 games, each with more than 1.5 million units sold. Even non-gamers will recognize such popular titles from our dataset, including the “Call of Duty” series or “Halo.” We coded information such as the identity of the protagonist (the shooter), the context and location of the conflict, and the identity of the enemy in each game. We grouped enemies into several categories: generic humans; aliens; monsters, including zombies; those depicted as terrorists from the Middle East or Latin America; Russians, as the state, ultra-nationalists, or separatists; and World War II enemies and others, including Iraq and North Korea.

Brandon Valeriano and Philip Habel, International Studies Review/Washington Post

The results of their study is represented in this graph.

It appears that humans, in general, are the most common type of enemy in the game. And by humans we mean Russians! Russians were your foes in 21% of games (12 games). The third place is taken by aliens, who oppose humanity in 11 games.

Even if we consider Latin American (6 games) and Middle Eastern terrorists (5 games) as a single combined category, the number of games with Russian enemies is still greater. Long after the end of the Cold War, and despite real-world concerns over global terrorism and other security issues, Cold War-era enemies in video games could be shaping attitudes toward modern-day Russia.

It does seem like a very one-sided approach to games. Probably, the genre is to blame. Still its alarming to see one nation to be represented as the sole threat for the Western audience. Kind of makes you think.


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Zidders Roofurry
Zidders Roofurry

I do my best not to form opinions on people based on fictionalized versions of them in video games. While I wish there was less hatred for my fellow members of the LGBT community there I remember a time not so long ago when us folks in the US were getting along a lot better with our Russian friends. I also remember Samantha Smith writing her letter to CPSU General Secretary Yuri Andropov telling him of her fears we’d wipe each other out in a nuclear war. She went to Russia and was much beloved-so much so that when she… Read more »


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