Tag Archives: male

21 Percent Delta

Polygon’s Charlie Hall reporting from GDC 2015:

Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch collaborated to create their survey in the spring of 2014. Wiseman, herself a teacher, educator and author, was able to deliver the survey to 1,583 students aged 11 to 18 over the course of the year. The results, the authors say, are enough to turn the games industry’s understanding of gender issues on its head.

The most compelling data point for game developers is the fact that girls in high school are far more likely to prefer to play female characters than boys of the same age are likely to prefer to play male characters.

Only 39 percent of high-school aged boys surveyed preferred to play as male characters, while 60 percent of high-school aged girls preferred to play as female characters.

That 21 percent delta, the authors say, is more than enough reason for game developers to rethink who their main characters should be going forward.

“We as developers,” Burch said, “understandably … are afraid of our games not selling.

“It’s terrifying to imagine that your game’s not going to sell. But it could be that we are falsely attributing the success of past games to things that don’t actually matter to the kids that are playing them.”

Since hearing Rosalind Wiseman on The One You Feed podcast, I’ve been an avid fan of her and Ashly Burch’s work. In case you missed it, their GDC 2014 talk on The Connection Between Boys’ Social Status, Gaming and Conflict is worth the watch.

See also: My recent breakdown of protagonist gender and video game genre from the games announced or highlighted at E3 2014.

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E3 2014: Genre/Gender Breakdown

Continuing my research of video game genre and protagonist/main character gender, here is the collected data from E3 2014. The sample list of 152 video games was sourced from IGN’s Games at E3 2014, platform data mapped to a quantifiable “TRUE”/”FALSE” list, genre lists collected from both IGN and Wikipedia (limited to primary genre), and the main character gender researched to the best of my ability.

Elaborating on the gender categories:

“Multi” being either:
a) multiple characters to select from (ie. Mario Kart 8 / Killer Instinct receive 1 count for “multi” although there are several characters to select from)
b) customizable gender
c) large customizable party

“n/a” being a:
a) gender ambiguous character
b) God-view game
c) first-person with no direct gender association

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Some key points:

  • My data can be found here. (Numbers online)
  • Sample size = 152 games
  • 13 exclusively female protagonists/main characters vs. 47 exclusively male protagonists
  • Female protagonist by year
    • 2012: 2%
    • 2013: 6%
    • 2014: 9%

Additional reference:

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Compliance for positive females, negative males

ScienceDirect:

We found support for the hypothesis that, in general, women would gain more compliance with friend requests than men. We also found support for the hypothesis that women making positive utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than women making negative utterances, whereas men making negative utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than men making positive utterances.

This sounds in-line with Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch’s findings.

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The topic of misogyny

Jessica Valenti, The Guardian:

Before the mass murder he allegedly committed, 22-year-old Rodger – also said to have been killed Friday night – made several YouTube videos complaining that he was a virgin and that beautiful women wouldn’t pay attention to him. In one, he calmly outlined how he would “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see”.

According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.

It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill – who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it – but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious.

Any mention of video games in this column? No.

Relevant to video game culture? Hugely.

I continually praise and promote Polygon for continuing to cover controversial topics such as gender in gaming (amongst many others); be it the portrayal of female charactershostility toward female gamers, the privilege of male gamers, or women working in the games industry. However, as these articles are published, many in the community appear irritated by the growth of cultural focus on gaming websites. It is infuriating to see these types of pieces battered down by ignorant rants, chalked-up as “click bait,” or dismissed by a community who just wants to “have fun.” It’s a shame that a community built around “fun” attempts to put such important conversations to bed the instant they are published.

As more and more conversations detailing misogynistic culture are injected into mainstream outlets, the more they should be praised. The next time you read a piece in this vein, offer your gratitude to the author for braving (sadly) the inevitable hostility, broadening the conversation, and challenging our cultural norms.

A very brave and critical piece by Jessica Valenti. My thoughts to those affected by this heinous act.

UPDATE: Brian Koppelman: “As The Father Of A Daughter”

As the father of a daughter, I feel complicit. I’ve been at poker games, football games, street fairs and business meetings, on message boards and in email chains, where I’ve heard comments about women, tinged with a particular kind of frustrated anger, that I have chosen to ignore. Because it’s easier to ignore them than to be ostracized, thought unmanly, excluded.
As the father of a daughter, I promise, from this moment on, to have zero tolerance, to be vigilant, to remember that all women are someone’s daughter, and to be brave enough to remind others of that, when they need reminding.

UPDATE: Polygon: ‘Where are the women in eSports?’

Michal “Carmac” Blicharz:

We are not focused on expanding our demographic beyond who we currently reach because our core audience is growing every year. Historically all attempts to target non-core eSports demographics have been failures. Various companies have tried simplification, gender segregation, mainstream-friendly rule sets and other similar things but does not work. It is not authentic as it alienates the immensely large core audience in the hope that someone new might pick it up. We don’t see the point.

48% of gamers are female (ESA, 2014). Male physical advantage: ~0. Male mental advantage: ~0.

First comment: AngryChad:

Why is it always about women in gaming lately? You even mention in the article that 21-34 is the targeted demographic, so why aren’t you asking why older people are also being left out?

Ready to pull my hair out.

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