The gaming world is getting a lot better at inclusivity — recognizing and reflecting the diverse population of players it comprises. But if E3, the biggest video game show of the year, is any indication, it still has a long way to go.
Since E3 is all about showing off what games are coming out in the next year or two, it's a great way to take the temperature of where the gaming industry is as a whole. One area in particular that needs constant attention in gaming is the ways in which developers represent — or neglect to represent — women. As has become a yearly tradition, Feminist Frequency, a site started by game critic Anita Sarkeesian, analyzed the breakdown of video game protagonists at E3 to measure whether we've made any progress.
Good news: The games at E3 2017 did much better than last year at approaching gender equity, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
2017 was an improvement for women in gaming — but there's a long way to go
Here's the full breakdown of the 109 games shown at E3, categorized by the gender of their protagonists. Games designated "multi" mean that you can choose the gender of their character and "N/A" means that you play as a nonhuman character, like a car or some other gender-ambiguous critter.
Even though just 7% of games at E3 2017 starred a female protagonist, you can technically play as a woman in 59% of them. And, as Feminist Frequency noted, several games, like Anthem, allow for gender customization, but featured a woman in their trailers.
"Presentations like this help to normalize the presence of women in both online and physical gaming spaces," Carolyn Petit wrote.
Of course, it's worth noting that there are 3.5 times as many — 26% compared to 7% — games that star a man as there are those that star women. According to Feminist Frequency, that's actually a massive improvement from last year.
"Compared to last year, in which 12 times as many games featured male characters as featured female heroes, this would be a very good year," Petit said. "But the very fact that a year in which the number of games featuring men only outstrips those featuring women by a factor of 3.5 instead of a factor of 12 qualifies as a "good year" is itself tremendously damning, revealing that there is still so far to go before we come anywhere close to achieving gender equity in gaming representations."
For the full report, head to Feminist Frequency.
More news from E3 2017
For more from this year's E3, check out the new trailer for Super Mario Odyssey, the latest info on the Spider-Man game for PS4, the new Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle game for Nintendo Switch and our hands-on impressions of the new Xbox One X.