Published in Gaming

No more female heroes any more

by on18 August 2020


Less than ten percent

While women make up almost half of all gamers, there is far from an equal representation of women in games and the situation is getting dire according to a new study.

Among 2,500 game releases over the last five years,  less than 1 in 10 games released in 2020 features a female protagonist, which is the lowest proportion in five years. The study did not look at the depiction of women in those games and whether or not they were designed for men with an udder fixation. 

The port compiled by Buzz Bingo shows that 9.2 percent of the games released in 2020 feature exclusively female protagonists – the lowest proportion in five years.

Over the last five years, only 11.4 percent of games featured a female hero, whilst 30.6 percent  of games featured a male protagonist.

Out of all Xbox's releases between 2016 and 2020, as little as 7.1 percent feature a female protagonist, which is the lowest proportion of any gaming platform in our analysis. Out of all genres, sports games have the lowest percentage of female protagonists (1.2 per cent).2020 was a dark ages for women in games only 9.2 percent featured exclusively female protagonists, which is the lowest proportion in five years. The Walking Dead: Season Two and Half-Life: Alyx are two examples of games featuring female protagonists.

In comparison, game protagonists were three times more likely to be male. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare featuring exclusively male protagonists, as well as Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition.

There has been a steady increase in the proportion of games where the protagonists are not explicitly presented as male or female (8.1 percent). There has also been an increase in the proportion of multiple options. 

Game protagonists by gender:

Year

% Female

% Male

% Multiple Options

% Ambiguous

% NA

2016

10.9%

29.5%

32.6%

7.2%

19.8%

2017

15.1%

27.1%

38.3%

6.5%

13%

2018

10%

32%

36.5%

3.3%

18.2%

2019

10.2%

36.3%

39.5%

7.9%

6.1%

2020

9.2%

26.5%

47.6%

8.1%

8.6%


2. Gender by Platform: Xbox has the lowest percentage of female protagonists

  • Out of all of Xbox’s releases between 2016 and 2020, only 7.1 percent feature a female protagonist. This is the lowest proportion of any gaming platform. 
  • Male-led games outnumber female-led games on the Xbox system by five to one. 
  • IOS has the highest representation of female protagonists, almost double as many as Xbox, but the proportion is still much lower compared to male protagonists (12.7 percent vs 25.9 percent).

Game protagonists by gender by platform:

Platform

% Female

% Male

% Multiple Options

% Ambiguous

% NA

Nintendo Switch

11%

29.6%

42.8%

4%

12.6%

PS4

10.3%

35%

37.7%

5.4%

11.6%

Xbox

7.1%

36.3%

39.6%

4.6%

12.4%

Microsoft

11.8%

31.6%

36.1%

7.1%

13.4%

IOS

12.7%

25.9%

37.1%

7.6%

16.8%


3. Gender by Genre: Only 1 in 100 sports games have a female protagonist

  • Sports games are the least likely to feature a solely female protagonist: only 1.2 per cent  of releases in the sports genre over the last five years do so. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is the only sports game released in 2016 that have exclusively female protagonists.
  • The adventure genre has the highest representation of female protagonists, as much as 22 per cent.
  • Except for simulation games, all of the game genres in our analysis each include more male protagonist-led releases than female. 

 

Last modified on 18 August 2020
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