Research conducted by Feminist Frequency has found that just 5% of games featured during the major E3 publisher showcases (and The PC Gaming Show) centred exclusively on female protagonists.
Feminist Frequency, which has been charting female representation in games shown at E3 for the past five years, published its findings from this year’s show on its website and in further detail on Wired.
Of 126 games featured during the major E3 showcases, just six (4.8%) centred exclusively on female protagonists, compared to 28 games (22.2%) centred exclusively on male leads. That’s up from a low of 3% in 2016, but below the high point of 9% in 2015.
According to the study, 66% of games featured at E3 did include protagonists of multiple genders or enable players to choose their own gender, representing a five-year high.
“In short,” Feminist Frequency says, “what the numbers this year demonstrate is that the overall percentage of games that center female characters is not getting any higher, and that it remains consistently and significantly outstripped by games that center male heroes.”
It adds: “It’s true that the number of games in which you either control characters of different genders or get to choose the gender of your hero character significantly outstrip those with established male or female protagonists. And of course, as a general trend, the freedom to choose or create your own character is a welcome one.
“However, it’s fundamentally different from being asked by a game to take on the role and experiences of a specific character.”
Additionally, across the events Feminist Frequency covered, it says women accounted for only 21% of speakers and presenters.
Meanwhile, of the 126 games it surveyed, 107 titles (85%) featured combat as a gameplay mechanic.