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Who is Vivian James?

Vivian James is a character created by the 4chan boards /v/ and /pol/ as a representation of ‘an average-looking teenage girl’ character to submit to The Fine Young Capitalists. According to the #GamerGate.me wiki “Vivian James has since become the de facto mascot of the GamerGate consumer revolt, and has had numerous pieces of fanart and fan fiction written about her.”

So, who is Vivian James?

The wiki at #GamerGate.me identifies how she is typically represented:

Appearance

Vivian James’ visual design represents 4chan’s /v/ board, and contains some references to the board’s inside jokes. Vivian is typically depicted as wearing a striped green and purple hoodie with a black t-shirt underneath, blue jeans, and white sneakers. She also wears a headband featuring a clover pin, a reference to 4chan‘s logo. She has long auburn or red hair, green eyes, and freckles, with her eyes often depicted as having bags underneath them due to her inconsistent sleep schedule. Her skin is a pale white due to the large amount of time she spends indoors, and she is typically depicted as being slightly overweight due to a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Inside Jokes?

One of the inside jokes referred to in the wiki’s description of Vivian James may have been explained in a post by independent journalist Steven Melendez on Fast Code Design. In short: if the purple and green shirt the character wears is an inside joke, it might just represent a rape joke to many of the 4chan board’s members.

Are the colors intended to be an inside joke about rape by the creators of the character? Only those who voted for that color pallet know the answer to that, but I will say it would serve as a good lesson in researching the colors used in advertising and that perhaps the people behind the image should rethink the image they wish to convey.

As a woman gamer I can say that I take offense to more than a few things about the character. Women gamers are not stereotyped by teenage girls. According to 2010 statistics by the Entertainment Software Rating Board ESRB 40% of gamers in 2010 were women, and the average age of gamers was 34 years old. That was as of 2010 information, which is now nearly 5 years outdated, so lets look at the 2014 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

“The average game player is 31years old”

“GENDER of Game Players 52% male 48% female”

“Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (36%) than boys age 18 or younger (17%)”

“The number of female gamers age 50 and older increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013”

“Adult gamers have been playing for an average of 16 years, with adult men averaging 18 years and adult women averaging 13 years”

So, if Vivian James was redesigned she would likely be a jeans and t-shirt wearing woman in her mid to late-30’s who has been playing games for 13 years, so is likely well settled into the lifestyle. According to the 2010 poll, gamers spent an average of 8 hours a week playing video games so she would be unlikely to have either poor health or a tired look. Plus, games are not cheap, so she would have a job, which means she has a professional look to her grooming and posture.

Oh, and according to BabyCenter.com the top ten most popular names for baby girls in 1980 were: Jennifer, Amanda, Jessica, Melissa, Sarah, Heather, Nicole, Amy, Elizabeth and Michelle, so she likely would not be named Vivian. Also according to BabyCenter.com, Vivian was a fairly uncommon and unpopular name for girls until around 2008, which would make Vivian James roughly 6 years old in terms of name popularity and the likelihood of her name representing a large range of gaming girls and women.

And the red hair? Probably not, unless it is out of a can, since only 1 to 2% of people have naturally occurring red hair according to LiveScience.com.

So, who is Vivian James? As best I can tell Vivian James is a creation of 4chan that would be best viewed as how not to have your group represented to the general public, particularly if your goal is to support women gamers.

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