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A Quantitative Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Video Games

Dmitri Williams of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, et al., conducted a census of video game characters and concluded that non-Whites and women were vastly underrepresented:

Seasoned gamers were recruited to play each game for 30 minutes. The researchers analysed video of the sessions and recorded the demographics of each character that appeared on screen, no matter how briefly. They then weighted the results in proportion to each game’s sales. For example, characters in a game selling 2 million copies counted for twice as many character stereotype impressions as those in a game selling 1 million.[...]

Williams and his team found that male characters are “vastly more likely to appear” in games than females. They made up 85 per cent of characters, compared to 51 per cent of the real population.

Compared to the real population, African Americans were under-represented by 13 per cent and Hispanic/Latino people by 78 per cent. Asians were over-represented by 25 per cent and white people by 7 per cent.

The researchers also noted that video games originating in Asia demonstrated a similar disparity.

Link via Popular Science

Image: flickr user Gamer Score Blog used under Creative Commons License.

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September 22nd, 2009

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