almost 3 billion people play video games worldwide and generate More money per year than the entire film industry. But while around 50% of these players are womenVideo games have Problems of chronic gender bias.
The players said have been sexually assaulted online And there were many Complaints of gender discrimination in video game development. Let’s not forget gamegateA year-long 2014-2015 campaign on harassment of prominent female gamers and developers.
And the problem does not end there. The results of the largest ever study of dialogue in video games have revealed another stark gender imbalance in the industry. Our analysis, published Royal Society Open Sciencestudied over 13,000 video game characters and found that male characters have twice as much dialogue as female characters.
Part of the blame lies with the content of the video games themselves Male leaders are more likely How feminine plus a lot of games confine women to stereotypical rolesFor example, Princess Peach, a character from Nintendo’s Super Mario video game franchise, often plays the role of a damsel in distress.
Sexist prejudices are revealed in dialogues
Studying dialogue is one way to better understand gender bias. Previous studies have already shown that most movies and TV shows devote more dialogue to male characters. By building the largest open source database of video game dialogue, we’ve found that video game dialogue is no different.
Our research of 13,000 characters from 50 video games found that, on average, video games have twice as much male dialogue as female dialogue. Additionally, 94% of the games we analyzed had more male dialogue than female dialogue, including games with multiple female protagonists (for example, Final Fantasy X-2 or Quest for the King VII).
Games were an exception The King’s Quest Since the 1980s and Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returnswhich has a female lead (and still manages only 55% of the dialogue by women).
However, the bias did not only occur with the protagonists: we found the same imbalance in the secondary characters. The pattern held even when the player’s choice of character gender and optional dialogue were taken into account.
While the proportion of female dialogue seems to be slowly increasing, we also observe female characters apologizing, hesitating, or condescending, reinforcing stereotypes of gendered behavior.
Finally, although the results presented here refer to male and female characters, we were interested in knowing the distribution of dialogue across all genders. Unfortunately, we were not able to reliably analyze non-binary and other gender characters because there were too few characters from these categories to be self-identified.
Difficulties in searching for data
We are inspired A Study of Gender Balance in Disney Film Dialogues, which showed that in 88% of films, men had more dialogue than women. This simple statistic was a striking demonstration of systematic imbalance. We wanted to measure these stats for games, but quickly discovered a few challenges.
First, what games should be included? We select 50 role-playing games in which dialogue is crucial. These games were balanced in terms of subgenre, age of target audience, and year of release. These included games from big developers –The ultimate fantasy, mass effect, Elder scrolls– and games from smaller developers like Monkey Island and Stardew Valley.
Accessing the data was more difficult than expected. Some games have scripts available while others were hard to come by. For many we relied on amateur transcriptions, although we had to make over 20,000 manual corrections.
Even when game code was available, turning it into a script could be an epic adventure. series games Elder scrolls or Dragon Age They can contain 1,000 characters that speak half a million words. We wrote over 10,000 lines of code to process the data.
Finally, determining the gender of 13,000 characters was not always easy. How did we classify costumed heroes? What is the sexiest talking book? And the guard who only appears in one line of dialogue?
Ultimately we would rely on the assigned gender, i.e. what a typical player would assign to him. This required a thorough investigation, looking for clues in the videos People are playingFan wiki and discussion forums.
How can game developers correct the imbalance?
First, developers can track the distribution of dialogs and use our results to determine how their games compare to others.
Second, we found that the average male character does not talk more than the average female character. The general imbalance is due to the fact that there are twice as many male characters as female characters. So the main strategy would simply be to increase the ratio of female leads to supporting characters.
There is an important caveat: more dialogue does not guarantee better gender representation. recently remake from Final Fantasy 7, the female character Jessie has ten times more dialogue than in the original. However, he spends most of his time flirting with the hero.
Another approach is to use Gender reversalThat is, writing down the gender symbols and then changing them during development, as it were fang of Final Fantasy xiiiwho began as a man and ended as a woman.
There is much to be done in this area, especially in terms of exploring non-binary characters and harmful stereotypes of male behavior (for example, that dangerous jobs always fall to men). ours The resources are open sourceAnd we hope that gamers, programmers and other academics will contribute to the expansion of the database.
This article was originally published English and in Spanish on The Conversation. Read the original here.
Source: El Diario