Visual for triple book tip post about three books talking about diversity in gaming

Diversity in Gaming

Diversity in Gaming

With the increasing popularity of video games, and graphics becoming more realistic and interactive, it is important to critically examine what effect video games have on players – and how they influence the gendered dynamics in society. We found three interesting books looking into different sides of diversity in gaming for you.

Read about where things stand regarding diversity in the gaming industry or jump directly to the book that intrests you the most:

The (Diversity) State of Affairs in Gaming

In her study, Tracy L. Dietz found that traditional gender roles and violence are central to many games:

  • No female characters in 41% of the analyzed games
  • Women were portrayed as sex objects, victims or as damsels in distress in 28% of the games
  • Almost 80% of the games included aggression or violence as part of the strategy, while 27% of the games contained socially acceptable aggression and nearly 50% included violence specifically directed at others
  • 21% depicted violence directed at women
  • Most of the characters were white

Another study conducted by DiamondLobby analyzed the top 10 games per year from 2017 to 2021, along with every other major game release from the biggest gaming publishers (Activision, EA, Nintendo, Ubisoft, etc.), and came to a similar bleak conclusion:

  • 79% of main protagonists were male
  • 54% of main characters were white
  • Of 810 characters studied, 66.5% were male characters, 27.7% were female, and the remaining 5.8% were non-binary or had no documented gender
  • 31.7% of games only had male and 5% only female characters

Other studies conducted by Dill and Thill and Downs and Smith showed that female characters in games tend to have unrealistic “Barbie-like” body proportions (exaggerated chest-size, extremely long legs, disproportionately small waist, revealing clothes that emphazise body curves).

Sad results for women – never mind for non-binary persons. In that case, you’re really out of luck. It is proposed that video games, like other media forms, impact the identity of children. With the outcome of the different studies conducted, you have to seriously ask yourself if that is the imprint you want on your children.

Another question that begs asking, is this: if there isn’t enough diversity in the games, what about the industry creating them?

To understand a bit more about the topic of diversity in gaming or at least one side of it, we have found three books that give valuable insights and definitely provide enough food for thought.

Women in Gaming

Book Cover "Women in Gaming"

Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play is a celebration of women’s accomplishments in the video game industry, ranging from high-level executives to programmers to gamers. This book highlights women who helped establish the industry, women who disrupt it, women who fight to diversify it, and young women who will someday lead it.

About the Author

At the age of 12, Meagan Marie wanted to be Lara Croft. After realizing that “fictional character” wasn’t a vocation, she set her sights on working in the video game industry.

Meagan attended school for Graphic Design and Journalism/Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota and secured a position at Game Informer magazine fresh out of college. She worked at Game Informer for several years. Meagan is now Senior Community Manager at Crystal Dynamics her job has allowed her to travel everywhere from Singapore to São Paulo, fanning a flame for adventure originally ignited by Lara.

Inspired to use her platform to give back, Meagan is outspoken on issues of representation in gaming and pop culture.

Where to Order the Book

The Queer Games Avant-Garde

Book Cover "The Queer-Games Avant Garde"

In her book “The Queer Games Avant-Garde, Bonnie Ruberg presents interviews with twenty-two queer video game developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games.

Speaking with insight and candor, these influential and innovative game makers tell stories about their lives and inspirations, and the challenges they face. Their insights go beyond typical conversations about LGBTQ representation in video games or how to improve diversity in digital media. These engaging conversations offer a portrait of an influential community that is subverting and redefining the medium of video.

About the Author

Bonnie Ruberg, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics and the Program in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her research explores issues of gender and sexuality in digital media and digital cultures. She’s the author of “Video Games Have Always Been Queer and co-editor of “Queer Game Studies, as well as a staff writer for a number of video game news sites and a freelance journalist specializing in gender/sexuality issues in video game culture.

Where to Order the Book

Gaming Representation

Book Cover "Gaming Representation"

Recent years have seen an increase in public attention to identity and representation in video games, including journalists and bloggers holding the digital game industry accountable for the discrimination routinely endured by female gamers, queer gamers, and gamers of color. This book examines portrayals of race, gender, and sexuality in a range of games, from casuals, to indies, to mainstream games like Grand Theft Auto.

Arguing that representation and identity function as systems in games that share a stronger connection to code and platforms than it may first appear, the contributors to this volume push gaming scholarship to new levels of inquiry, theorizing, and imagination.

About the Author

Edmond Y. Chang is writer, gamer, scholar, academic, and teacher. He is the author and designer of Tellings, a tabletop role-playing game, and Archaea, a live-action role-playing system. He is also an Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University. His areas of research include technoculture, race/gender/sexuality, video games, RPGs, feminist media studies, cultural studies, popular culture, and 20/21C American literature. He earned his Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on American literature, feminist science fiction, writers of color, virtual worlds, games, popular culture, and more!

Where to Order the Book


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