One In Three Men Prefer Playing Games As A Female Character, Study Finds

One In Three Men Prefer Playing Games As A Female Character, Study Finds

Offering both male and female character options is becoming more common in video games, with titles like Assassin’s Creed, Cyberpunk 2077 and Mass Effect leading the charge. But while we’re certainly making strides in this area, the default gaming avatar is still typically an older white male — and new research has revealed that’s more detrimental than first thought.

In a new study, Quantic Foundry discovered even men enjoy playing as female characters, with one-third of male participants in a recent survey identifying their preference to play as female characters. In the same study, it was revealed only one in ten female players wanted to play as men.

The 2020 survey collected responses from around 3,000 gamers (69 per cent male, 27 per cent female, 4 per cent non-binary) with the average age of participants 24.

While players were more likely to prefer a playable character of the same gender as them, the fact that one in three male survey participants preferred playing as women is an important statistic.

Games are still largely led by men, despite the increasing interest and demand for female character — and this doesn’t appear to reflect the desires of modern gamers.

The study goes on to provide a hypothetical.

If this data is applied to a “core PC/console” game played online, the known demographics would mean about 60 per cent of women characters in those games are being played by men. This hypothetical reflects real life patterns Quantic Foundry discovered in MMOs from the early 2000s including EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

The reasons for one-third of men preferring to play as women are unclear, but researchers have formulated some possible conclusions. The first focusses on society’s expectations of men, and theorises that men are more likely to explore their gender identity in an anonymous, virtual space than in real life.

Other possible reasons are that it could be a way for men to objectify or control virtual women, a way to receive more gifts and better treatment online, or a psychological ploy to show off a ‘weaker’ or less skilled avatar to confuse other players.

Whatever the case, it’s a statistic worth noting as we enter the next generation of gaming. While female player characters are still in the minority, it’s clear there’s a high demand for them from players of all genders.

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