Lack of equality in video games


The gaming industry has been around in some form since the end of the 1970s and has evolved greatly over the last 50 years or so. One of the biggest changes has been in gender participation.  The gaming industry has seen a rise in female gamers, reaching about 45 percent of gamers in the U.S. this year.   However, while the participation of women and girls in gaming has risen significantly in the last half-century, their representation in video games – both in quantity and quality – has lagged.  

According to WIRED magazine, in an article that analyzed games released at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) between 2015 and 2019, female representation in video games was not improving much.  The analysis did find a positive trend: being able to choose the gender (including non-binary) of the protagonist in a game went up from 46 percent of games released in 2015 to 66 percent of games released in 2019.  

While this is a significant gain, games that featured female protagonists went down during this time frame from 9 percent to 5 percent, compared to male protagonists which dropped from 32 percent to 21 percent.  This is a far cry from equal representation. Female characters are often oversexualized. In addition, female characters often have secondary or unimportant storylines, such as needing to be saved by male characters.

Thus the depiction of females in video games seems out of step with the growing popularity of gaming with female-identifying individuals.  This is likely the result of the still male-dominated space of video game development.  This is starting to change, but developer statistics have not caught up with player statistics.  According to, in 2021, 61 percent of game developers identified as male. The video industry, though taking steps in the direction of more equal representation, still has a long way to go.