Curious about male protagonist dominance in video games, I decided to do a little research…
The following post was originally published on my IGN blog on 6/15/13. It went on to be featured on the front page of IGN.com.
After all of the announcements at E3, I was curious to find out the genre breakdown between the games announced at E3 as well as their protagonist genders. To delve into this information, I pulled the original Big Games at E3 2013 list (156 games), mapped the platform section into a quantifiable “TRUE”/“FALSE” list, gathered genre lists from both IGN and Wikipedia, and researched the gender of the protagonist of each game.
Elaborating on the gender categories:
“Multi” being either:
- multiple characters to select from (ie. Mario Kart 8 / Killer Instinct receive 1 count for “multi” although there are several characters to select from)
- customizable gender
- large customizable party
“n/a” being a:
- gender ambiguous character
- god-view game
- first-person with no direct gender association
Some key points:
- Sample size = 156 games
- 9 exclusively female protagonists (Bayonetta 2, LocoCycle, Transistor, Barbie Dreamhouse Party, Beyond Two Souls, Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, Mirror’s Edge 2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, Time and Eternity)
The most interesting bits of data show PS3 receiving more releases than any other console, Sony in general receiving more releases than any other brand, and Nintendo catering to female and multiple choice protagonists more than any other brand.
The following charts represent IGN’s Big Games at E3 2012 list:
Some key points:
- Sample size = 55 games
- 1 exclusively female protagonist (Tomb Raider)
This is still very much a work in progress as there is plenty of unknown data. Seeing as these charts only map E3 2013, there is no current assessment of industry trends; however, I am currently adding previous E3’s to this research. I may be reaching out to the community for assistance in updating this data to slim down on the amount of unknown and update on previous E3s.
UPDATE; 2013-06-15, 12:15p: Added platform spread for announced games.
UPDATE; 2013-06-17, 12:15p: Added Genre breakdown based on Wikipedia classifications, Protagonist Distribution per brand, and Protagonist Distribution per Wikipedia Genre classification.
UPDATE; 2013-06-20, 12:10p: Wikipedia video game genres have been simplified for broad classification. Wikipedia classifies “Shooter” as a sub-Action genre. For the purposes of this study, “Shooter” has been given its own classification.
UPDATE; 2013-06-21, 9:15a: Added charts for Genres Per Platform and Genres Per Brand. Thank you all for your feedback and comments! Loving the discussion!
UPDATE; 2013-06-22, 3:45p: Changed Genres Per Brand charts to pie chart form. I will be adding IGN genre comparison soon.
UPDATE; 2013-06-25, 7:00a: Added data from E3 2012, refined key points including sample sizes and exclusively female protagonist counts.