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Why Games With Female Protagonists Don't Sell, and What It Says About The Industry

Becky Chambers:

So, here’s a question: why are female video game protagonists so rare? Their absence is palpable, and we talk often of how we want to see more of them, but the why of it is typically addressed with generalizations about target audiences and a lack of women in game development. Penny Arcade Report senior editor Ben Kuchera wanted better answers than that, so he did what any red-blooded gamer would do — he found some numbers to crunch.

As detailed in an editorial earlier this week, Kuchera contacted Geoffrey Zatkin, Chief Operating Officer of EEDAR, essentially the market research firm for the gaming industry. They looked at a sample of 669 action games, shooters, and RPGs, all taken from the seventh-generation console cycle (that’s Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii — in other words, everything in the last seven years). Less than 300 games in their sample had the option of a female lead. As for female only leads…a whopping 24.

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dedicatedtogamers1402d ago (Edited 1402d ago )

Perhaps it just goes to show that our "creative and artistic" game developers aren't as artistic as they think, since they're utterly incapable of creating a female lead that's remotely interesting to women or to men.

Thing is, the majority of female gamers (and this includes Farmville-rs, Hangins with Friends-ers, etc) are not at all interested in a story. They don't care. It does't matter if the lead is male, female, or a garbage can. Most female gamers simply do not care. And yes, I'm aware that there are some women out there who love Final Fantasy 10, or Kingdom Hearts, or Phoenix Wright, or Halo, or Red Dead Redemption, or whatever. But I'm talking about the majority of women.

You don't believe me? Over the past 15 years, what games have exploded in popularity with women? The Sims? No story. Roller Coaster Tycoon? No story. Nintendogs? No story. Mario Kart? No story. The aforementioned Farmville? No story. Wii Fit? Wii Sports? Just Dance? Guitar Hero and Rock Band?

DryPancake1402d ago

Maybe because the majority of the gaming population is male developers want players to connect to the protagonist more, although lots of male gamers prefer Fem Shep. Also they can add a relationship between the protagonist(male) and an NPC (girl) to make it more emotional.

violents1402d ago

what about tomb raider, who doesnt like playing as lara croft? I loved amost every tomb raider. And I'm playing gravity rush on my vita right now, its alot of fun and the protagonist is female. I'm sure there's been a few others but all in all there isn't a whole lot of female leads in games and I think it has more to do with the fact that there are more males in the industry than females and when they try to make a believable female lead it comes off as stupid or trivial, they cant ever seem to get it just right. Beyond two souls looks like it gunna be a good one too. The ladies are late to the game, its been a mans world with gaming for a long time. Give it some time and women will be just as prevalent.

BaYo1821402d ago

Heavenly Sword was my first PS3 game great game, great graphics, EXCELLENT STORY and it features a FEMALE LEAD to bad the sales hurt the game and it's future sequels!

Blastoise1402d ago

I imagine Bioshock infinite will prove this article wrong

Kur01402d ago

except you play as a man...

Blastoise1402d ago

@Kur0

Really? I thought you played as that Elizabeth woman?

My bad...

matgrowcott1402d ago

I think there's an edge not examined in the article, but that I think could be an important part of this. Of the games with female only leads, how many people have accused the developers of doing nothing but appealing to the male market? How many people have become offended because they aren't able to differentiate a "bad" character with an attractive one?

How many people believe that a young beautiful girl, trapped on a island with a lot of bad men, isn't at risk of rape and that hinting at that makes her a weaker character?

These are issues that don't crop up with male characters, and female gamers, largely, are happy to play as men so long as the story is good. If you can have all the benefits without any of the negatives, the only problem is in people saying "where are all the female leads?"

So long as the games are good, the majority don't give a damn.

DragonKnight1402d ago

*facepalm* Another of these articles. *sigh*

ape0071401d ago (Edited 1401d ago )

agree, Perfect Dark 64 is perhaps the best game ever, sold mellions, has Female character, Joanna dark U Rule

fermcr1402d ago

Tomb Raider sells pretty well.

Rockstar should do a GTA with a main female protagonist, it would sell.

Knight_Crawler1402d ago

Do you know how much sh!t R* would get from the media and feminist groups?

R* would be restricted on what they can do and can not do.

How will the media react when you go picking male prostitutes or start getting beat up by some thugs.

Also when I play a game I like to think that I am the character that I playing and I do not feel right playing a girl or a woman.

The only solution to this is to make you customize your own character.

violents1402d ago

why would feminists care if GTA had a female lead. What, a strong female protagonist, you better put her back in the kitchen, right? I don't think you'll ever hear a feminist say that.

I do agree with you that some games just wouldn't feel right if your a woman. Sometimes it works though. Tomb raiders are excellent examples.

persona4chie1402d ago

the first problem is the industry and gaming as a whole is male dominated
i love games with female protagonists they are some of my favs but

problem #2 sexuality plays too big a role in games with or without female protagonists
i love bayonetta
i love tomb raider
i love bloodrayne i love them for the fun factor
it's not wrong to have a nice looking female protagonist but the go haywire and focus on the eyecandy and sexuality ( IN SOME CASES) and not enough into a great story and fun gameplay.

remember the days when female protagonist boobs didnt jiggle and bounce? now its all over the place.

in the above series i mentioned
rayne boobs jiggled
bayonetta inappropriately dressed ( at least not moderately dressed) and was HIGHLY sexual
just the other day while playing tomb raider trilogy on cutscenes laras boobs jiggled when theyed be easily noticed but didnt jiggle during basic things like running when her back would be turned to the player

dont even get me started on lollipop chainsaw

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