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The Divnich Tapes: Which Genres Provide Male-Only, Female-Only Protagonists?

The Divnich Tapes: Which Genres Provide Male-Only, Female-Only Protagonists? Exclusive

October 23, 2008 | By Jesse Divnich

October 23, 2008 | By Jesse Divnich
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

[In a Gamasutra-exclusive market analysis, EEDAR's Jesse Divnich follows up yesterday's analysis on games featuring playable female characters with a study on which genres offer titles that limit gamers to only playable male characters or only playable female characters.]

As we described yesterday, at EEDAR, we track over 15,000 features for each game, one of which is the "Game Has a Playable Female Avatar" category. Using this data, we can slice it up in ways similar to what we do with the NPD data every month.

Previously, we studied how women are represented in video games, looking at which genres and home consoles provided players with the most and least opportunities to play as female characters. Predictably, titles for the Wii console and games typically described as "casual" provided the most experiences.

Because of the popularity of that article, we produced another graph showing games that just offer either a playable female character or male character (or multiples of just one).

This would not include any game that
  1. offers the ability to play as either a male or female character, or
  2. does not specifiy the sex of the game's characters

Some examples of the latter are games where you play as a robot (Armored Core), games where the main character is not shown (Bejeweled 2), or games where you play as an asexual character and the sex is not clearly determined (de Blob).

Here's the graph that we came up with (click on it to enlarge):

With the exception of Social & Economic Sim and Music & Rhythm games, most genres are decidedly dominated by games that only provide playable male characters. Social & Economic Sim titles, which tend to fall under the Casual banner, is the only genre to offer more titles with playable females than males.

Interestingly, the Role Playing Games we analyzed -- which have an extremely high percentage (79 percent) of games with both playable male and female characters due to their tendency to offer character customization options and a wealth of premade archetypes -- did not provide any titles at all with only playable female characters. However, 18% of RPGs limit players to only playable male characters.

While the "Both" category (not shown) tends to be the largest for the majority of the genres, there are a few, such as Shooter and Sports, where the overwhelming majority only offer playable male characters.

For those wondering about the 1 percent that offered only playable females in Shooters and Sports games, those few titles included Alien Syndrome, Bullet Witch, and Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2.

[Jesse Divnich currently serves as the Director of Analyst Services at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR). The preceding is the views and opinions of one person and not of EEDAR, The GamerMetrics, or Gametrailers.]

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