A new study uncovered the unsurprising truth.
A new study revealed that male characters in role-playing games have almost twice as much dialogue as female characters.
As noticed by Kotaku, the paper, called Gender Bias in Video Game Dialogue, states that the researchers, led by Dr. Stephanie Rennick and Dr. Seán Roberts, analyzed 6 million words of dialogue from 13,587 characters from 50 RPGs and found the imbalance both in the word count and the variety of emotions expressed by characters. The games submitted to the research included Final Fantasy XIII, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Kingdom Hearts, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and other titles where dialogue is a major game mechanic.
The results showed that 94% of the selected games had more male dialogue than female dialogue, including titles with multiple female protagonists like Final Fantasy X-2 or King's Quest VII, which might not be that surprising, but what the researchers didn't expect is the gap between the two categories:
"While we expected to find a larger proportion of male dialogue overall, we were surprised to discover how few games – just three of 50 –had more than 50% female dialogue," said Dr. Rennick. "Players 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."
Another discovery is that women in games are often given a one-emotion role: they express anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, or surprise only, while their male counterparts have a wider range of emotions and seem more three-dimensional because of this.
Overall, the researchers attribute the results to an imbalance in the proportion of female characters and a narrower range of roles given to women than to men.
"Around half of gamers are female, but they experience a lot of abuse and exclusion," said Dr. Roberts. "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."