Naughty Dog was forced to request female focus group testers for The Last of Us, the studio’s creative director has said.
As reported by The Escapist, Neil Druckmann said that one of the many factors that can influence how a game is marketed is focus testing, in which a number of players are asked quantitative and qualitative questions relating to the title.
He said that after finding out a research group was intending to use just male focus testing players, the studio had to specifically request female testers to balance opinion for both markets.
“Another aspect that influences how a game is promoted is focus-testing,” said Druckmann.
“Players are rounded up and are asked to view materials and answer some quantitative and qualitative questions about it. My big surprise during this process is that the research group wasn’t planning on focus testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request.
“I hope this is a relic of the past that will soon go away.”
The comments echo some of those at a recent panel at GDC 2013, in which a number of women developers received a standing ovation after discussing sexism in games and how female players should not be ignored.
Microsoft Games Studios game designer Kim McAuliffe said during the panel that she was annoyed many in the industry worked on the assumption that developers only target male gamers, with many claiming “girls aren’t our target audience”.
She added that if developers were encouraged to expect more female players and create content for them, “they will naturally grow up to be part of the industry”.