Out of the 59 new video games teased at this year’s E3 conference, only three per cent featured a female protagonist, according to a report.
It means that of the plethora of titles on display from Microsoft, Sony, Bethesda and Ubisoft as well as the first part of Ninentedo’s stream, just two - ReCore and Horizon Zero Dawn (see above) - had an exclusive female protagonist, found gaming non-profit Feminist Frequency. And both of these games had already been shown at last year’s event.
Meanwhile, 12 times as many games – 24 in all – centred on a male protagonist.
It’s a noticeable drop on last year’s study of the conference when 9 per cent of titles featured playable female protagonists in comparison to 32 per cent with male leads.
This massive discrepancy “means that for now, games continue to reinforce the deeply entrenched cultural notion that heroes are male by default,” according to the report.
“We live in a culture that regularly encourages girls and women to project themselves onto and fully empathize with male characters, but rarely encourages boys and men to fully project themselves onto female characters. When players are encouraged to see a game universe exclusively through the eyes of a humanized female character, it helps challenge the idea that men can’t or shouldn’t identify with women as full human beings.”
The findings suggest the video games industry still has some way to go before placating concerns that it is sexist. Despite female protagonists fronting high-profile franchises like Assassins Creed and Tomb Raider, action groups like Feminist Frequency believe there is a lack of female representation across the gamut of genres.