Statistically, this year represents a significant improvement, with about 18 percent of games shown featuring female characters. In fact, this represents a new high, almost doubling the previous (dismal) record of 9 percent from 2014, our first year collecting this data.
Reasons to question whether or not this shift represents widespread change include the fact that more than one-third of the games centering female characters came from just one event: Sony’s June 11 presentation, dubbed The Future of Gaming, the first-ever event focused on the games of Sony’s next-generation console, the PlayStation 5.
It’s worth noting that looking at the other years, there’s not upwards trend in recently years. 18% in 2020 is an outlier, as it was just 9% of games in 2015 (the first year they started tracking) and was lower each of the next 4 years.
What has gone up reliably is the number of games that let you choose a gender, being the majority of games each year, and growing. And while this is great for many games, there are still plenty of narrative-based games where the amin character is going to be a singular gender. They were pretty close in 2020, but last year there were 4x as many games with only male leads, and 2016 was the low point with 20x games with only male leads.
Here’s to hoping that 2021 is more like 2020 than most other recent years.
There, finally a thing 2020 did kinda right.