Last Week on #DailyPoll – 5/20/16


Each weekday I post a poll to the PS Nation twitter account, @PSNation. Then each Monday I compile last week’s polls into this post. Last week was all about gender in video games, specifically the gender of the player’s characters.

I actually posted a bonus question last week on Friday. However, I’m going to start with that poll because I think it frames the rest of the polls in an interesting place. The bonus question asked what your gender was, to get a demographic baseline for the rest of the polls.

Going in, I figured we had a mostly male readership, but this poll was a little eyeopening. 91% is a pretty vast majority. Our twitter polls often aren’t indicative of the larger gaming populous, so I wouldn’t extrapolate this poll to the rest of the gaming fanbase. This just represents a hyper localized section. Even though there’s no guarantee that the same exact percentages voted in the other polls this week, I think it’s safe to assume that they had mostly male responses.

Starting off with this one: does it bother you when you play a game where the character isn’t your gender? This question came about after listening to a gamer talking about how she couldn’t get into The Witcher 3 because she couldn’t relate to the character in part because of the gender (mostly due to Geralt spending a lot of time courting women). That made me curious to see if a lot of people felt that way or not.

Seems like most players aren’t bothered at all by the protagonist’s gender. An interesting follow-up might be to ask how much players want to relate to their protagonist. Not that being a different gender makes a character completely unrelatable, but occasionally it can hit on aspects that are. Joe offers an interesting take that foreshadowed the other polls I was planning on posting.

Next up was to ask about games that have premade characters. Something like Uncharted 4‘s multiplayer was mainly what I meant, because the player character’s gender doesn’t have any impact on gameplay. Overwatch or fighting games fall into this too, but that can also come down to the character’s play style rather than their visual style.

Half don’t really seem to care, while the other half does tend to have a preference. Of those with a preference, it’s interesting to see how how high those who said “female” are in comparison to that bonus poll. Several responses talked about how different gender characters tend to play in games, which was a little less what I was hoping to get at but valid nonetheless. Though I’m sure there are some people who voted like Stuart:

After that, the next was to ask about making a character. In a game like Fallout 4, where the player gets to pick the character’s gender and make the character from the ground up, what gender do you often make?

It’s not too surprising, but the percentages here are pretty close to those who picked a side on the previous poll. Still a pretty sizable portion who like playing female characters, especially in comparison to the likely mostly male voters. That’s really one of the great things about games though, is that they let the player be anything they want.

One adage I’ve heard a few places in the game industry is that games with a girl on the cover don’t sell as well as those with a male on the cover. Supposedly, there’s enough belief in this that even Naughty Dog was asked to change the cover of The Last of Us, as the cover features Ellie rather prominently.

I’ll admit, I think I should have reworded those answers a little bit. Still, it seems like at least our twitterbase doesn’t mind having a female on the cover of the game. In fact, more people said they’d be more likely to buy it because of that than those who said they wouldn’t.

Last, let’s see if people think we need more female protagonists. Although there are some high profile games that do feature women, like Tomb Raider, males still seem to be the majority. So I wondered if our mostly male voters want there to be more female protagonists.

Over 70% of the responses said they do want more female protagonists so it would seem that even our male dominated community would like to see at least a few more. Of course we want good games too, but those two things are not mutually exclusive.

That’s it for this week. Join us every weekday around 10 AM Pacific Time for a new poll question.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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  • Jbumi

    I wonder if your bonus question is so lopsided because that’s the way the readership skews or because that’s the way Twitter skews. I’m female & don’t Twit.

    I don’t mind when my character’s male (if it bothered me, there’d be an awful lot of games I’d have to skip), but I do enjoy it more when I can play as a female. So, whenever possible, I pick a female lead. I’d be more drawn to check out a game with a woman on the box. I love that there are more female protagonists now than ever before – want the trend to continue!

    • Makai Ookami

      I’m not sure it’s true that there’s more female protagonists than ever before.

      I mean there were RPGs on the SNES with female protagonists like Sailor Moon, Slayers, Samus was a female protagonist, Power Rangers games, most beat ’em ups had a woman you could play as, Shantae was on the Gameboy Color, starting with Pokemon Crystal I think you could choose your gender, Harvest moon started integrating a female main character around the PS1, Tomb Raider, Ulala from Space Channel 5…

      I mean if you take away games that sexualize female characters like the Senran Kagura series, the Neptunia series, Dead or Alive games, you find less and less games with female protagonists.

      So I think it’s a complicated subject. I think female characters for video games are becoming more mainstream. I don’t know if the number is really going up, or if the numbers are just not properly represented though.

    • andyscout

      Yeah, I’m not sure of the exact reason the poll was so heavily weighted to male. There are a lot of factors that skew these polls, after all they’re only voted on by the few people who see them on Twitter. I don’t pretend to assume the polls necessarily represent everyone who reads our site, let alone the gaming populous as a whole.

      Anecdotally, our forums seem to be mostly male and the few people I’ve met from the community offline were also male. At the moment, all of our writers are male too, though I’d like to believe we write in a way that is welcoming to any walk of life.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      • Jbumi

        “I’d like to believe we write in a way that is welcoming to any walk of life.” I agree that it is!

      • Makai Ookami

        It’s probably something stupid like societal expectations that women aren’t supposed to be gamers, even though they are, and so they focus more on mobile gaming because playing WoW, is something they might get harassed for, but playing Farmville on Facebook, no one objects to.

        I know I’ve gotten shit for being a guy and playing Harvest Moon games and Animal Crossing. Some women have even thought I was gay because of those.