Play with Bad Words: A Content Analysis of Profanity in Video Games

  • Quang Anh Phan National University of Singapore
  • Vanessa Tan National University of Singapore
Keywords: profanity, video games, content analysis


This study uses content analysis as the primary method to touch upon the use of profanity in video games through a sample of 28 units released in 2015 across multiple platforms and genres. The selected games used to test are listed in the database of global top-selling games of the year, are narrative-based, and with gameplay reached using walkthroughs published on YouTube. The results reveal that profanity could be used as a predictor for sales, and that profanity is dependent on the genre of video games played. Furthermore, since gender and video game content have shared a long history, in terms of research on the mutual bond between the two, the results also shed light on this matter, as the use of profanity in games is also dependent on the gender of characters.


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