Tag Archives: female

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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‘The most radical thing you can do to support women’

Anita Sarkeesian, as quoted by The Verge:

One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.

Falsehoods about me are initially pushed by detractors who use them to post to 4Chan and Reddit to rally more people to the cause. It’s bouncing from Twitter to Tumblr to Facebook to YouTube and back again. Once the cascade reaches a critical mass, it no longer matters what the facts are. It becomes a viral meme.

I really wish I had the privilege see Sarkeesian speak. Such an inspiring and perseverant woman. Opening and closing to a standing ovation at the XOXO Festival. Amazing.

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‘How to attack a woman who works in video gaming’

Jenn Frank, The Guardian:

See, the best, most successful hate campaign dreams big. For some, it isn’t only about targeting one woman, two women, or a handful of women. The endgame is to frighten all women out of the video games industry – no matter what they write, film, create or produce – and to additionally frighten anyone who would support them.

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The Metaphorical Grocery Store

Chris Plante, Polygon:

Two groups are at opposite ends of this moment:

One side has folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child that has learned they are getting a little brother or sister but wants to remain the singular focus of his parents’ affection.

The other side has opened its arms, unable to contain its love and compassion, because they understand they are no longer alone.

This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It’s time to grow up. Let’s not wait until next week to start.

I am very happy to see writers Auerbach and Plante echo each other’s sentiment of “childish rhetoric.” I’m even happier that Plante is escalating this conversation to include the reality of the situation.

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Megan Farokhmanesh of Polygon, in conversation with Nate Fox of Sucker Punch, on the inclusion of Fetch as a playable character in Infamous: First Light:

Until now, Infamous has never given a female character a leading role. This was largely because of the assumption that “we thought that the demographic of game players were dudes and they identified with dudes,” Fox said. He pointed to BioWare’s Mass Effect series; in 2011, the developer said only 18 percent of players chose to play as a woman. That number was reiterated during a PAX East panel last year.

I love the admittance of assumption. Happy to see this message being spread throughout AAA Dev teams.

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The Untold Story of Unroll.Me

Perri Blake Gorman, co-founder of Unroll.Me:

Personally I love being a woman in tech. There is nothing that has helped me be more memorable than being a woman. Our first piece of press happened when Courtney Boyd Meyers (@CBM), then at The Next Web, reached out to us. She asked to write a piece because she had seen me tweeting about it. As a female founder you get on people’s radars. That press was followed by a post by Lifehacker which generated over 26,000 signups in 24 hours.

A great outlook on the ongoing and magnified diversity problem in the tech (and gaming) industry. Just unsubscribed from 85 newsletters, rolled up 29. My favorite part are the Most Unsubscribed / Most Rolled Up awards.

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Compliance for positive females, negative males


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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No girls allowed

Tracey Lien on Polygon’s Friends List podcast:

If all the games you’re playing exclude women and all the media you’re consuming excludes women, that’s going to chip away at your mind in some way. It’s going to shape your worldview in someway. I think that is potentially damaging to kids growing up playing these games but also to women who are playing them and feeling excluded. There’s really no reason for it.

In light of the recent Assassin’s Creed news, this short discussion between Lien and colleague Megan Farokhmanesh hammers at every nail in the Women in Games conversation. Lien is the writer of the No girls allowed, a must-read look back on early video game marketing and the creation of the “boys club” vacuum.

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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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