Male players happy to play female lead in videogames: study

Male players happy to play female lead in videogames: study

A recent study conducted by the University of the Sunshine Coast research shows that most men are keen to play as a female lead character.

With two-thirds of Australians playing video games and 46 percent of them women, USC experts in marketing and digital media surveyed players’ experiences of the game Horizon Zero Dawn – a blockbuster game that only has a main female player-character. 

The results intrigued USC International Business academic Dr Jacqueline Burgess, whose PhD examined marketing video games.
Dr Burgess said that the results fly in the face possible industry assumptions that male players prefer to play as male characters.

“Central player-characters in games, especially the popular, big budget games, are mostly male due to industry fears that men don’t want to play as women,” Dr Burgess said.

“But this survey of almost 200 people showed the 75 percent of respondents who were male found it refreshing to play as a strong female character, and the 25 percent of respondents who were female felt empowered by the inclusive character.

“There were no significant differences between flow, transportation, and gameplay, although female respondents reported significantly higher identification with the character.”

Flow and transportation refer to people’s focus on, and absorption in, the world of a game.

Dr Burgess is finalising the results with USC Professor of Interactive Digital Media Christian Jones. She said that she hopes the research influences inclusivity and design choices in the global games industry.

Dr Burgess pointed to the success of Horizon Forbidden West, which released on PlayStation consoles in February.

“It’s won critical and popular praise for continuing the engrossing story and thrilling combat – again demonstrating that female player-characters can be central to successful blockbusters,” she said.

“As we’ve found, players just want games with great stories, interesting characters and fun gameplay. It doesn’t matter what gender the player-characters are.”

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