Video Games and Violence Against Women and Girls: A Double-Edged Sword in the Digital Age

In an era where digital technology shapes cultural narratives, video games have become a potent medium significantly influencing societal attitudes. This influence becomes crucial in the context of violence against women and girls (VAWG), a pressing global concern. Recent initiatives by the United Nations mark a paradigm shift in utilising video games, not just as entertainment but as transformative tools for education and social change, particularly in combating VAWG.

The Challenge of Negative Stereotypes in Video Games

Video games have historically been critiqued for perpetuating negative stereotypes and harmful attitudes towards women and girls. This criticism stems from the frequent portrayal of women as sexualised objects or mere background characters, reinforcing gender stereotypes and contributing to a culture where violence against women is normalised. Such representations influence player behaviour and societal beliefs, underlining the need for a nuanced understanding of the impact of video games on VAWG.

The complexity of this impact is evident in the diversity and breadth of the gaming industry, which boasts a player base of over 3.2 billion, or 40% of the global population, with nearly 50% of them women. While some games offer an empowering representation of female characters, others indulge in aggressive and demeaning depictions. The individual player’s background, societal contexts, and the game’s content heavily influence this impact.

The UN’s Innovative Approach with “Chuka” and “WeRise”

The United Nations, which has on several occasions harnessed the power of video games to help communicate on global issues, has done so too in the fight to end VAWG. “Chuka, Break the Silence” and “WeRise” stand out as two such initiatives.

Chuka, Break the Silence

Chuka, Break the Silence,” developed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with Gargamel Estudio, is an innovative video game designed to empower young girls and raise awareness among boys about psychological, physical, and sexual violence. In this creative and bespoke game, players step into the shoes of Chuka, a 13-year-old female YouTuber and gamer. As she navigates a nightmarish landscape, encountering haters and monsters, players learn to be assertive and take decisive actions to combat various forms of gender-based violence. Inspired by children’s drawings, “Chuka, Break the Silence” not only educates players on recognising and effectively responding to aggression but also instils values such as fairness, respect, empathy, and critical thinking skills.


WeRise” is an interactive app developed by UN Women for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, aiming to promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes. Created with input from over a hundred youths across various MENA countries, this multilingual app engages users with puzzles and competitions focused on gender issues. It’s part of UN Women’s “Men and Women for Gender Equality” program, designed to educate and empower users to advocate for gender equality in their communities.

The Dual Role of Video Games in Society

The relationship between video games and VAWG underscores the complex interplay between media and societal attitudes. While video games can perpetuate harmful stereotypes, they also hold immense potential for promoting gender equality and combating VAWG.

Developers and players both play crucial roles in this context. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, a balanced approach is necessary — one that involves scrutiny of content, active participation from developers in creating respectful representations, and an informed audience engaging critically with the media.

The initiatives by the UN illustrate how video games can be repurposed to educate, raise awareness, and inspire change. “Chuka, Break the Silence” and “WeRise” are more than just games; they represent a unique blend of entertainment, education, and advocacy, serving as models for future initiatives aiming to address complex social issues like VAWG.


The journey towards eliminating VAWG is challenging and multifaceted. However, the innovative use of video games, as exemplified by “Chuka, Break the Silence” and “WeRise,” highlights digital technology’s significant role in this endeavour. These games, focusing on education, empowerment, and empathy, leverage interactive media for social change.

As the gaming industry grows, it is essential to continue exploring and supporting innovative approaches. Video games have the power to be agents of change, capable of influencing perceptions, shaping attitudes, and inspiring a new generation to advocate for gender equality and stand against violence towards women and girls.


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