Videogames, for the longest time, have been an art form plagued by the homogenous protagonist—white male, big, gruff-and-buff army guy. For the past four years, Feminist Frequency have taken it upon themselves to highlight this homogeny by statistically breaking down gender representation in videogames—specifically, videogames at E3. They gathered their data via each of the big publisher and developer press conferences, taking note of representation, the gender of presenter(s), and games with and without combat.
When it comes to a female main protagonist in games, just eight percent of games shown featured a female protagonist—more or less staying within the seven-to-nine percent ballpark of the past few E3s. 24 percent of games shown focused on male protagonists or had playable male avatars/characters only.
Most of the presenters on stage at E3 2018 were males with varying degrees of power. For example, at Bethesda, 12 men took to the stage, while only one woman appeared. Similarly, at Ubisoft’s conference, there were 14 male presenters and only two women. Feminist Frequency goes on to note, “It’s hard to say that we’re making meaningful progress in the games industry when E3 press conferences still help solidify the notion of gaming as an industry dominated by men, creating games for men.”
78 percent of the videogames shown at the big E3 conferences featured combat—of varying degrees of necessity and importance. Violence and conflict in videogames have become incredibly normalized, and have long been tied to the core gameplay loop of videogames as a whole. Judging by the statistics shown by Feminist Frequency, that will not be changing anytime soon, despite the rise of alternate-experience games, like adventure games, puzzle games, management sims and so on.
Feminist Frequency’s data compilation at this year’s E3 and E3s past has consistently been important in showing, numerically, how videogames have and have not changed when it comes to representation in all of its forms—from gender to player feedback loops.
Check out Feminist Frequency’s full statistical breakdown, plus the ins and outs of how they crunched their numbers, right here.