(Research) Identitity In Gaming

norr

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I'm doing another little research thing, If you'd like, please answer the few questions below!

1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)

Sorry if this survey is confusing, Thanks for answering!
 

Silvanus

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norr said:
1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
I think that nowadays, a number of RPGs are making the effort to cater to women and gay people-- allowing us to personalise gender, occasionally giving us same-sex romance options (M.E. 3, DA series), and sometimes giving us female protagonists.

A greater number of games are still targeted primarily towards the same demographic, though.

norr said:
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
Not really. Women are usually supporting cast or romantic options; men are usually manly men heroes, and women often exist just to provide motivation for male characters. Most protagonists are grizzled white straight dudes.


norr said:
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
It could quite easily diversify without stopping making what it already makes. It's taking baby steps.
 

veloper

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1. nothing is for free
2. the current representation is proportional
3. only gamers can change it, by voting with their wallets
 

Lieju

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1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
Free? Well it's at least potentially more free than non-interactive media but even still you're forced to play certain kinds of characters. It does offer more freedom though.

2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
No. This is a problem I have with a lot of fantasy and scifi but I'd hope we would have more nonbinary characters for example or characters that see the whole issue of sexuality in a totally different way than modern Western culture.


3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
Yes, but I don't really think all games need to have the freedom to choose what your character is like though, games can have set protagonists, depends on the game.


veloper said:
3. only gamers can change it, by voting with their wallets
That doesn't answer the question presented though. The question is about what kind of improvement could happen, you know, the kind of stuff that you then could support with your wallet?
 

NPC009

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norr said:
1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
In certain games, yes. And most do a decent job at letting you design a character that is your own.

But, there are many games out there that are not about character creation and that in itself isn't wrong, but it would be nice to see more diversity. More protagonist who aren't straight white males.

2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
Again, depends on the game. If we're talking about those RPGs that focus on character creation, it is. Aside from those games: nope.

3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
I don't think giving players more options would change much, because it would just be "Well, as shown on the cover, we got White Dude here as our hero. You can pick someone else, too, just don't expect us to ever view him/her as canon."

It's the creators who need more options - the freedom to build a game around someone who doesn't fit the usual mold. There's not reason why, let's say... a black woman can't be an interesting and likable protagonist.
 

Phlap

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norr said:
1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
Absolutely. There's no barrier to entry sans the cost of the equipment needed to play.

norr said:
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
I think that some companies (notably Bioware) focus too much on the diversity of their game's cast, to the point of tokenism. Certain characters merely exist in some games to check a box. "Does game X have a gay/transgender/ethnic minority character?"

Games will be played by everyone, whether their sexuality or ethnicity is represented in-game or not. My enjoyment of a game isn't affected by the inclusion or lack thereof of a character remotely like me.

In games where the player character is customisable, this is a different case. A huge number of players will want to have their character represent themselves.

norr said:
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
Better writing.
 

Madkipz

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norr said:
I'm doing another little research thing, If you'd like, please answer the few questions below!

1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)

Sorry if this survey is confusing, Thanks for answering!
Have you checked out Sargon of Akkads video's on the subject of identity ideologs doing reserach into gender identity within games?

heres a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF5a5IgbuYk

1. Yes.
2. Doesn't matter. It could be a bunny rabbit for all they care. The protagonist or vessel for the player does not matter much at all.
3. No amount of gender / identity option will impact the player. It is better to have less choice with better overall writing, because when the player engages with the medium he engages primarily with Gameplay.
 

Reasonable Atheist

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This whole "debate" kind of bothers me. Identity is as free as you want it to be in most rpgs, although myself i fail to see how it matters, but i may be biased as i never care about that portion of the game and usually choose a stock or random character to speed up getting into the game, with the exception of interesting choices like species or class.

I dont see how sexuality of your character matters in a video game.

In terms of non character creation games, i feel like identity is representative of the people who are consuming the media, tons of white guys, tonnes of asians. Not to mention characters that are not even human. As for games that feature a homosexual protagonist, its likely that the smallest demographic will be the least catered too, and i dont see that as inherently wrong, there are gay indi games that exist, but im unaware of any breakout hits. From my limited experience what i have seen has been garbage *cough* gone home *cough*

I think if someone made a game with a protagonist that was gay or a black woman or what have you, and the game was awesome, it would still be a hit and nobody would care *cough* portal *cough*.

As i do not prescribe to the hype that the game industry has a diversity problem, I do not offer any solutions. good games are good and bad games are bad, if someone wants to make a game with a diversity character nobody is stopping them. To insist that people should be creating things in line with your sensibilities is fascism.

Please take my comments with a grain of salt, I am likely biased as i usually dont give two craps about the characters in the first place unless they are outstandingly written, and lets be honest, they are not most of the time. I am much more of a mechanics and gameplay sort of person myself, and i do not think im alone in that.
 

laggyteabag

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1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
It certainly can be free, and a lot of people will praise the developer for including it, but there will always be a very vocal group of people that will oppose almost anything, especially if it involves homosexuality [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uy4OSpUKE].[footnote]Read the comments of the video link. I dare you.[/footnote]
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
There certainly is, especially for gender or race (at least for the supporting cast. Most player characters tend to be white males), but if you are looking for sexual diversity, BioWare's games are usually a good place to look, otherwise, it is largely ignored in most games. That being said though, for a lot of games, a characters sexuality is irrelevant because the game does not have a focus on a character's relationship, so that is generally a good excuse for it.
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
Like I mentioned in the previous thread, I would like to see a lot more developers give a choice to the player in terms of what gender they would like their character to be, and one step ahead of that would be to include a lot more character creators and dialogue options, but this whole thing is more of an unrealistic pipe dream more than anything else.
 

cleric of the order

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you again.
You know scholarly articles on this exist right?
Like this one here
http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/11313.28005.pdf

This likely better at answering your questions then I.

1.I don't see the point in asking this question, I've been made to identify with things completely inhuman.
2. the more i think about this, the more confused i become. see, the way you phrased that made something click. My... nature as a human being is not dominated by my sex/mixture of races/disability. I don't want to see character thrown in because someone felt that there needed to be a autistic because lol. I am not a hive mind unlike it seems a lot of NTs. I'd rather go on a journey with my character, watch them grow, other come challenges and live. Sex, gender, race is not an identity and will never be an identity. those that try to make it theirs, those that focus highly on what is in essence the smallest demographic should really consider this.
Are you so uninteresting that only a persons sex/gender/race/preference is their personality to you
3. down with Kater murr, down with philistines, remove tumblr.
 

Dizchu

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Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
There isn't much about games themselves (other than their difficulty, maybe) that prohibits certain demographics from playing them. I find the idea that people are discouraged by games that don't feature protagonists of their skin colour/gender identity/sexual orientation to be quite patronising.

Some would call me a transgender lesbian (though I think it's more complicated than that). I have no problem playing games that feature straight white male characters as long as the game is good. It isn't a determining factor in whether or not I buy a game. If a game is bad, chances are that the inclusion of "non-straight white male" characters would not do much to improve it. (Keep in mind that I don't play many AAA games so my situation may be different from people that keep up-to-date with the newest big releases).

If given the option though I will always play as a female character.

2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
While some of the most heavily-marketed games features monotone male characters with shitty stubbles, when one regards gaming as a whole there's actually quite a lot of different identities. Certain RPGs also allow for an insane amount of customisation. The communities of those RPGs have made mods to add even more customisation.

Many games don't revolve around characterisation very much, therefore well-defined identities aren't that common. If Quake starred a black transgender lesbian what would it add to the game? How would it make the game any different, at all? Modern games are more narrative-based and allow for more characterisation, but this is usually done very poorly. It's the fault of bad writers, not a lack of inclusion.

But overall, games have very diverse characters. You just have to dig beneath the surface where all the macho bullshit resides.

3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)
By listening to their customers. I don't mean listening to small focus groups that have no idea what they're talking about, I mean listening to feedback and using it as constructive criticism.

But I also think that we should raise our standards when it comes to gender discussions. Anyone that thinks that Dragon's Crown, Bayonetta or Skullgirls is more offensive than Metroid: Other M are overlooking chillingly sexist depictions in favour of getting upset at relatively superficial and benign things.

In terms of the depictions of multiple races, certain games do it much better than others. Unfortunately there seems to be a reluctance on the part of many studios to make main protagonists non-white (though far-east Asians and Hispanics get less of a raw deal than blacks and ESPECIALLY middle-east Asians).
 

Evonisia

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Question the first:
It can be certainly, though some games do try to push it harder than some others (think: Saints Row IV and recent Bioware games). I'm sure six billion indie games do it as well.

Question the second:
It's getting better than most of last gen, but I wouldn't say it was ideal. The thing is that identity tends to restrict the actual game because of the publishers. Remember Me could have been even better than it was, and the publishers just rejected the idea of having a mixed-race straight woman be the protagonist.

Question the third:
I'd say just have more games involve the options, then move onto improving the current identity types and different orientations and what not.

Laggyteabag said:
1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
It certainly can be free, and a lot of people will praise the developer for including it, but there will always be a very vocal group of people that will oppose almost anything, especially if it involves homosexuality [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uy4OSpUKE].[footnote]Read the comments of the video link. I dare you.[/footnote]
I usually find any discussions on sexual orientation just hilarious in YouTube sections, and this is no exception. Admittedly I've not watched the video. Wasn't all this "includes homosexuality" stuff already gone over with Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age II? Plus there are regular dumbass comments which never cease in making me chuckle.

Personal favourite quote so far: "I like how the dudes ass can be uncensored yet the female nipples CANNOT be shown! Sexism at its best of course."

Yeah I would agree if he replaced "dudes ass" with "dude's nipples". I'm rather concerned for his knowledge of the human body's appearance.
 

Haerthan

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norr said:
I'm doing another little research thing, If you'd like, please answer the few questions below!

1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
2. Do you think identity is well represented in gaming? (eg. Is there a range of different identity, Race, Genders ect)
3. How do you think the gaming industry could improve this? (eg. adding gender options/race options/more identity options in general)

Sorry if this survey is confusing, Thanks for answering!
So here is my answer

1) No I do think it is. The AAA gaming publishers cater to the white heterosexual male, in order to bring the biggest bucks. Although I do like one of the answer above mine, how nothing is free.
2) No It most definitely isn't however it is improving. Only examples off the top of my head are the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. Quite sure there is more, but that is off the top of my head.
3) Hire more female programmers, writers etc. The inherent sexism that, at worst, could be prevalent isn't exactly the fault of the developers themselves. It is just a different way of thinking they aren't accustomed to, since 80% of the industry is dominated by men. Publishers though on the other hand, those guys though are definitely to blame for some of the sexism seen in the games.

Captcha: Accidentally on purpose. Most like the OP wants to accidentally on purpose start a flamewar. See OP Captcha got you figured out. Nowhere you can hide.
 

laggyteabag

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Evonisia said:
Laggyteabag said:
1. Do you think identity is free in gaming? (eg. Do you think it caters to many identities, Races, genders, sexuality's ect?)
It certainly can be free, and a lot of people will praise the developer for including it, but there will always be a very vocal group of people that will oppose almost anything, especially if it involves homosexuality [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uy4OSpUKE].[footnote]Read the comments of the video link. I dare you.[/footnote]
I usually find any discussions on sexual orientation just hilarious in YouTube sections, and this is no exception. Admittedly I've not watched the video. Wasn't all this "includes homosexuality" stuff already gone over with Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age II? Plus there are regular dumbass comments which never cease in making me chuckle.
Oh you have no idea. My favourite was a while back when someone said something along the lines of "all this gay shit makes me want to never buy a BioWare game ever again."

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

A bit late to that one pal, BioWare games have had homosexual/bisexual characters in them since 2003's Knights of the Old Republic
 

SoreWristed

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I'll take identity as meaning two things here. Physical identity and emotional identity. physical meaning i can create a character that looks, sounds and smells exactly like i want him, ranging from hair colour and left nostril width.
Emotional meaning being able to make the decision that I, the player, would make in the stead of the protagonist.



1) depends on the type of game. A game like WoW or Skyrim for instance, thrive on letting players be who they want to be, because their story revolves around a hitherto unknown hero rising to meet the enemy. This is inviting you to play as you, or an avatar of you.
A first person shooter places less importance on the protagonist being you, but instead try to make you empathise with their character and the decisions they make storywise. Prime example that comes to mind is Deus Ex, where there is nothing you can change about Jensen except the preferred playstyle and skills, but they try to make you feel what is going on with his personality.
third type would be a final fantasy type game, where apart from the name, most of the story is written out for each character and you are taken for the ride. Some characters would be written to be liked and some to be disliked, but their role is already mapped out and has nothing to do with how you feel about it.
So yes, identity is free, if you pick the game that you can be free in. I like making a character how i like him to be, but if a character is well written, i can also just enjoy his story. Taking into account that i am a white, male 20 something, so most protagonists are already made to look like me.

2) No. While race and gender is usually well represented in skyrim for example, it doesn't leave a lot to mess around with. What if i'm a person born as a redguard, but born and raised in the imperial city, with it's stats and perks? What if i'm the only human ever to become a shaman? and this is just talking about race and gender. Sexual orientation leaves a lot more to be said. Even between good and evil there is no middle, grey area that most of us would walk. Making a small decision that benefits me hugely when i need it, but is considered eveil, turns the game ending around to make me look like a terrorist that eats kittens and sets fire to orphans. I know of no game that judges my actions fairly, but i might just not have played it yet.


3) The entirity of the games industry doesn't have to do a thing. it is coming along nicely. The creators of the Infamous games for example are experimenting away with morality, and have shown developers that this is a thing now. Just like Mass effect, dragon age and Knights of the old republic have shown us that sexual orientation is a thing that does not have to conform now too. I would like to see more characters being genuine, but it's coming, i'm sure of it.

BTW, Norr, are we writing your PHD or something?
 

veloper

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veloper said:
3. only gamers can change it, by voting with their wallets
That doesn't answer the question presented though. The question is about what kind of improvement could happen, you know, the kind of stuff that you then could support with your wallet?
What is an improvement to a game? The answer is different for every gamer.
For me it is more focus on good gamplay and less story telling in games, if the narrative quality continues to be shitty. I don't care at all if the protagonist is male or female, black or white, or furry. I'll play any and all if the gameplay is great.

The game industry can only try to assess the demand for certain games as best they can, limit budgets according to the demand for (niche) games/features in games and then try to put motivated and skilled developers on the project and advertise.
The big publishers may or may not suck at this, but they are really trying already, for their own sake.
This is all they should do (better).

It really is up to gamers.
 

Truth Cake

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Laggyteabag said:
It certainly can be free, and a lot of people will praise the developer for including it, but there will always be a very vocal group of people that will oppose almost anything, especially if it involves homosexuality [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uy4OSpUKE].
I actually clicked the link and read the first comment because I like a challenge. Just the first one, that equated homosexuality to mental illness. Didn't consider that Rick Perry's would be the first comment for that video (har har).

You're a terrible person for linking such filth here. (not really of course, I'm just joking but I'm sure that's hard to get through just text) XP

Back to OP:

1: Depends on the game really. Gaming as a medium is quite varied and you can find games that do have good variety in catering to all sorts of people. If we were going to take a single lump average then I suppose the short answer is no (but then the same could be said of lots of industries, movies for example are notorious for casting almost exclusively white actors). Most games, especially big-budget games, seem to feature almost exclusively straight white males as leads because them females and colored folks are scary and people wouldn't want to play them by proxy or play games with them in it or some nonsense like that. (obviously the latter part of that sentence was not meant to be reflective of my own opinion, just want to make that clear).

2: Same answer as above, on the whole not really but there are games that do.

3: Ehhh my problem with saying 'options' like that is that it implies that every game needs to have a user-created character like Skyrim or something. Certainly giving people options in such games is good and listening to homophobic shitheads who condemn so much as the slightest hint of a flirt from another character of the same gender is not good, but also more diversity in character casting in games that don't allow character creation either would be cool. If Spec Ops: The Line had a minority main character, would it suddenly be a terrible game, or would it be Spec Ops: The Line but the main character *happens* to be Latino or something? I'm sure some whackjobs wouldn't touch it if it did, but you can't please everybody, because some people are asshats. :p

3: tl;dr more diversity = good imo. Maybe more people would play games if it wasn't perceived as a 'straight white boys only' club with big-budget games featuring more than just Mr. Straight White McGrittypants. Maybe other sorts of people would play your game if you, I don't know, acknowledge their existence? Just a thought.
 

norr

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cleric of the order said:
you again.
You know scholarly articles on this exist right?
eyyup,
I'm conducing some 1st hand research on the subject so I needed to ask the questions myself, But i'll look at this info too, thanks.