Oh Good – Even The Fictional Men In Video Games Get To Talk More Than The Women

The patriarchy truly is everywhere.
There's no escaping the patriarchy, not even in fantasy video games.
janiecbros via Getty Images
There's no escaping the patriarchy, not even in fantasy video games.

How depressing – scientists have just found that male characters get 50% more dialogue compared to their female counterparts in video games.

Yes, in what researchers have described as a “stark gender imbalance”, it turns out there is no world, not even a fictional one, where men and women are equal.

These findings come from the Universities of Glasgow and Cardiff, where researchers looked at the transcript dialogue from 50 different role-playing games between 1986 and 2020.

It only included games which had sold at least a million copies around the world, and is listed as being one of the “top” role-playing games around the world.

They analysed all 6.2 million of the spoken words from these different games, from 13,000 characters (only 30 of whom were non-binary, approximately half of the number of non-binary people who exist in real life).

And the scientists found that a staggering 94% of the studied games had more male dialogue than female, even if the plot had multiple female protagonists.

That means only three of these 50 games had more than 50% female dialogue.

It’s not all horrendous, though.

The results, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, found that from although female dialogue started out taking up a pretty devastating 18% of video games’ conversation in the 1980s, it is gradually increasing.

By 2020, the scientists found around 40% of the games’ dialogue came from female characters.

But that’s still an exceptionally slow rate of just 6.3 percentage points per decade, and means video games will only have gender equality in 2036, if things carry on at this rate.

So, you might ask, what are the women doing in these games if the men are doing more of the talking?

Well, they’re much more likely to apologise, hesitate or be polite compared to their male counterparts, according to the researchers.

They also found that the players often experienced a stereotyped response based on their characters’ gender. While female players were offered salads, wine and compliments on their looks, male players were offered pasta, ale and assumed to be good at the game itself.

According to PA news agency, Dr Sean Roberts, lecturer at the school of English, communication and philosophy at Cardiff University said: “Around half of gamers are female, but they experience a lot of abuse and exclusion.

“More diverse representation is being called for by players and developers.

“So we hope that developers will consider addressing the imbalances we found in order to create more inclusive games.”

Surely it’s only up from here?

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