Analyst disputes gender bias claims

A US analyst has refuted claims that games featuring a female lead are being shunned by publishers due to their inability to perform in the market.

The subject came to light earlier this month when it was claimed that Activision altered development of the game that has eventually become True Crime 3 to omit the former female lead in favour of a gruff male hero.

However, Industry Gamers reports that 51 per cent of games released on current generation machines have plyable female characters, a stat that it says is an incredible accomplishment for our industry and reinforces our progress towards serving ever widening demographics”.

While the entire debate is contextual to the type of game you are making and probably more dependent on elements such as quality of development and marketing budget, console games over the last five years show no aggregate statistical evidence that indicates that gender selection (aside from having no gender at all) impacts quality scores,” EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich wrote on Industry Gamers.

In terms of gender equality, the factors that drive sales are based more on brand licensing, marketing budgets, development budget and a thousand other factors that have little to do with the gender of playable avatars.

But as gender relates to game quality, as long as consumers and media critics rate games purely on their inherent quality (and the data suggests they do), then our industry is progressing nicely.”

Furthermore, Divnich adds that if gender does play any factor in the potential commercial success of titles, it’s games that are fronted by characters of ambiguous gender that suffer the most.

Analyzing the average review score of over 910 core genre games, the difference in quality scores between the two genders is insignificant,” Divnich added.

Surprisingly, having an indiscernible gender correlates with lower review scores by a significant amount. However, ‘Not Discernibles’ low score is likely due the character design; these games tend to have robots or cute furry non-gendered creatures that are harder to identify with.”

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