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Video games: Female characters speak half as much as male characters, study reveals

The researchers of theUniversity of Glasgow they found a net gender imbalance after conducting the largest study ever conducted on the dialogue in video games. The research, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, analyzed more than 13,000 video game characters and found that male characters talk twice as much as female characters.

Dialogue in video games: research conducted by the University of Glasgow

The study, conducted by Dr Stephanie Rennick of the University of Glasgow and from Dr Seán G. Roberts of Cardiff Universityperformed the first large-scale gender imbalance test in the dialogue of 50 role-playing video games (RPGs).

It was discovered that games include twice as much male dialogue as female dialogue on average. Of the games studied, 94% had more male dialogue than female dialogue, including games with multiple female protagonists such as Final Fantasy X-2 or King’s Quest VII.

Not only the protagonists: the minor characters also speak less

However, the bias does not only affect the protagonists: the same imbalances have been found in the minor characters and persists even when player choices about gender of the protagonist and optional dialogue are taken into account.

Female dialogues and non-binary gender characters

The study also found that the percentage of female dialogues is slowly increasing. If this trend were to continue, it would still take more than a decade to reach parity. Besides, there were few characters in non-binary gender categories: only 30 out of 13,000, or about half of real life.

Dialogue in video games: the words of Dr. Rennick

Dr Rennick, Research Associate in Philosophy, School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow, said: “While we expected to find a higher proportion of male dialogue overall, we were surprised to find how few games, only three out of 50, had more than 50% female dialogue. Gamers seem to share our surprise: When surveyed, they anticipated the general pattern of more male dialogue, but overestimated the number of games where women spoke the majority of the time.”

The imbalances in the dialogues

The study also found imbalances in who the characters talk to. Male characters tend to talk to other characters masculinebut women talk to others donne less than expected by chance, even taking into account the number of jokes and the female characters. This is similar to the pattern seen in many movies that don’t make it past the Bechdel test.

The study suggests that the imbalance in the dialogue is partly caused by the imbalance in the number of characters. Researchers suggest that the easiest way for game makers to address the imbalance is to add more major and minor female characters. However, the researchers caution that more dialogue does not guarantee better gender representation. There can be biases in the content of the dialogue as well, not just in the speaker. For example, female characters are more likely to apologize, hesitate, or be polite, perpetuating stereotypes about gender behavior.

The opinion of Dr. Roberts on the players

“About half of gamers are women, but they experience a lot of abuse and exclusion,” said Dr. Roberts, lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy. “Gamers and developers are demanding a more diverse representation. So we hope that developers will consider addressing the imbalances we’ve encountered to create more inclusive games.”

Marco Dellapina is a passionate writer who dives into the exciting world of video games. With a deep love for gaming, Marco brings you the latest updates, reviews, and insights on the ever-evolving landscape of interactive entertainment. Join Marco on an immersive journey through the realm of video games and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and releases. Get ready to level up your gaming knowledge with Marco Dellapina's articles.