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关于电子游戏中的女性角色比例分析

发布时间:2014-03-05 16:55:17 Tags:,,,

作者:Dmitri Williams

性,性别,游戏。传统上这三者并非游戏行业的最佳搭配组合。即便我们不考虑美国有一些严重的女性特征方面的问题,游戏实际上也并不是这一进步运动的前沿。

我小时候玩电子游戏时对此没有任何概念。只知道游戏中有位迷人的公主,她需要解救。而作为拥有一名女儿的家长,就不得不意识到这个问题。与暴力争议一样,性别与游戏争议也不时抬头——尤其是在游戏惹出一些极为出格的事情时。

我上一名用系统回答和可靠数据来作结论的研究人员。有证据显示,对女性的超性别化描述会导致更多性暴力甚至强奸罪行。但将表现与态度联系起来,就假定了我们真的了解人们一开始的表现。这样会产生如下问题:

游戏中的表现是什么情况?

它会变得更好还是更糟?

其根本推动力是什么?

我们很容易根据自己所玩过的游戏以及所认识的人而对此作出回答。毕竟,还有什么会比抽样调查更不枯燥但却更重要的方法吗?究竟有谁对此做过抽样调查呢?

抽样是指选取一些案例,之后用其推断更大群体的过程。例如政治民意调查专家选取了1000名受访者的意见,并据此声称他们知道“美国人”的看法(其中存在一些误差)。他们怎么能这么做呢?他们可从美国人口普查知道了关于美国人的大量情况。所以,他们就知道自己需要获得X数量的女性,Y数量的拉美人,Z数量年龄介于30-35岁的群体,为便获得一个具有代表性的样本。

解决电子游戏中的代表性问题需要一些类似做法,只是会更为困难。我将从最为简单的问题开始:游戏角色的人口统计情况如何?

考虑这个最小问题的以下基本元素:

*我们关心可玩角色,背景角色,还是两者兼顾?

*我们是否公平地考虑所有的游戏?

*游戏数量如此庞大,我们是否全部选择?

我们该如何以不偏不倚的方式采取措施,以获得无可厚非的结果?

好消息是我们已经解决了这个问题。但坏消息就在于我们9年前就做过这种研究,但现在的游戏已经今非昔比,玩家、平台、机制和商业模式都发生了变化。所以下面的内容实际上是“之前的”,并非没有“后来的”结果。

步骤1:找到在特定时间段出售的游戏列表。我们使用NPD数据来追踪游戏在9个不同平台一年的销量。我们挑选了150款零售热门游戏。记住,当时这一领域几乎就是零售行业,所以你可以在App Store和微交易游戏爆发之前追踪到这些信息。

步骤2:不要对所有游戏“一视同仁”。显然《Madden》的比重要多于《Beyblade》,毕竟它的销量要比其他游戏高得多。我们是看销量来衡量结果。所以一款销量为700万份的游戏,比重就比销量为100万的游戏高7倍。这虽然不完美,但也不算太糟糕。

步骤3:挑选角色。聘请一些程序员来查看游戏和记录游戏中的每个角色。我们查看了每款游戏头30分钟的内容,至少有2名程序员进行独立记录。我们为可玩角色vs非可玩角色作了备注。我们的两名程序员在93%情况

下赞同这种分类。我们计算了超过5000名角色。

步骤4:运用数据库并查看图表。

那么我们获得了什么发现?首先,我们决定选择一个对比基准线。你可能会争论游戏世界到底是否具有可比较性,但这里并没有完美答案。我们选择了美国人口普查数据,因为我们仅查看美国销量,也因为“现实”

世界显示是一个正当的基准线。这让我们得知如果某一群体比人口普查基准线更多或更少,该群体就属于超过或低于限额的情况。

好吧,来看看结果。

gender sample(from gamasutra)

gender sample(from gamasutra)

从中可以看出,男性角色数量远超过了女性,这种比例失调的情况还是超过了我们的预期。首先,“现实”世界的美国有50.9%的女性,49.1%的男性。如果我们要看游戏世界中的“真正”性别,那就应该是女多男少的情况。总体上看,游戏中的角色严重倾向于男性,男女比例为85:15。但可玩角色与那些只是用来装饰背景的非可玩角色的对比情况如何呢?结果发现其中的性别比例失衡更严重了,男女比例几乎是90:10。

你可以说最近几年游戏已经出现于更多角色控制的情况。现在你更容易定制自己的角色,有时候甚至是性别也可以自由选择。不幸的是,在当前市场环境中我们很难对此给予系统性的解答。

这真的很重要吗?我们要清楚自己并没有这些模式所产生影响的数据,只有从其他媒体获得的理论和研究。很显然一个群体的缺失通常意味着这个群体的不幸。想想电视上的黑人、亚洲人、西班牙人或同性恋。在他们获得关注之前,似乎从来不存在一样(游戏邦注:其术语就是象征灭绝),并且他们在成为主角之前都得先经历扮演坏人或共犯等卑劣的角色。

我并非声称缺乏女性角色就能证明什么,但我怀疑这可能会产生一些问题。想想看,年轻的女性玩家在玩X游戏时会想到“怎么都没有我们?”在研究过程中,女性在游戏群体中占比38%,但在游戏中的可玩角色中却仅占比10%。这是否与进入计算机科学领域的女性数量极少有关?(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

The Gender Cocktail. Part I: Learning to Sample

by Dmitri Williams

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Sex. Gender. Gaming.

Historically, this hasn’t been the industry’s best cocktail. Even if we put aside for the moment that the US has some serious issues with female sexuality–we’re far more OK with eviscerated organs than breasts–gaming hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of the progressive movement.

As a kid playing video games I didn’t give this any thought. There was a princess, she was hot, and she needed saving. Game on. As a parent (with a daughter), it’s hard to not grow up a little. And like the violence debate, the great gender and gaming debate rears its head at pretty regular intervals–usually when a game does something truly egregious or on the border between cute and creepy.

Cards on the table, I’m moderate to slightly liberal, and I’m ready to be offended on behalf of the women in my life. Yet I’m also a researcher who wants systematic answers and hard data to base conclusions on. And on that score, there is evidence that hypersexualized portrayals of women leads to greater tolerance of sexual violence and even rape. But linking representations to attitudes (note that you can’t do a study to link to behaviors due to ethics) presupposes that we actually know how people are represented in the first place. So:

What is the state of representations in gaming?

Is it getting better or worse?

What fundamentally drives it?

It’s easy, and very tempting, to fire off answers to these questions based on the games you play and the people you know. After all, what could be less sexy, yet more important in all of this than sampling? I mean sampling, who even does that? Let’s start with what it is.

Sampling is the process of taking a few selected cases and then extrapolating up to a larger population. It’s how political pollsters can take 1,000 people and say they know what “America” thinks about something, within some margin of error. How can they do that? They know a lot about America thanks to the US Census. So, they know they need to get X amount of women, Y amount of Latinos, Z amount of people aged 30-35, etc. in order to get a representative sample.

Tackling issues of representation in video games causes a similar kind of exercise, only here it’s much, much harder. I’m going to cover the very simplest question first: What are the demographics of game characters?

Consider the following basic elements of that smallest question:

Do we care about playable characters, background characters, or both?

Do we count all games equally?

There are zillions of games. Do we pick them all?

How do we do this in an unbiased way so the results are beyond reproach?

The good news is that we actually have tackled this. I’m going to spell out the results, but you can find the full research paper here. The bad news is that we did it nearly nine years ago and games have changed a lot since then. Players, platforms, mechanics and business models especially have been all over the place. So what follows is essentially the “before” and there is no “after” yet. Aside: I run a game analytics company that’s starting up with its first customers right now. We measure characters, so at this time next year we can start providing more regular benchmarking.

Step 1: Find the list of what games were sold in a given time period. We used NPD data to track a single year of games sold across nine different platforms. We picked the top 150 games sold by retail, which covered slightly more than half of known dollars spent. Remember, back then this really was mostly a retail industry, so you could indeed track these things before the explosion of the App Store and microtransaction games.

Step 2: Don’t treat all games equally. Clearly Madden should carry more weight than Beyblade if for no other reason than that it sold a zillion times more copies. As a proxy for how much exposure content has, we weighted the results by sales. So, a game selling 7 million copies counts 7 times as much as one selling 1 million copies. Not perfect, but not terrible.

Step 3: Pick the characters. Hire a bunch of coders to view the games and record every single character in them. We looked at the first 30 minutes of every title and had at least two coders take independent records. We made a note of playable vs. non-playable. Our two coders agreed on the categories around 93% of the time. We covered over 5,000 characters.

Step 4: Throw it all into a database and look at the graphs.

So, what did we find? First, we decided to pick a baseline for comparison. You can argue what the game world should or should not be compared to and there is no perfect answer. We picked the US Census because we were looking at US sales only and because it stands to reason that the “real” world is a decent baseline. This lets us state that if a group shows up more or less often than the Census baseline, that group can be said to be over- or under-represented.

OK, results.

It may not be terribly surprising to see that there are more male characters than female, but the results were more skewed than we expected. First of all, the “real” world of the United States is 50.9% female, 49.1% male. If we were to see the “real” gender world show up in games, that’s what we would see in them. Overall, characters in games are heavily skewed male: 85/15.

But what about playable characters vs. the eye candy of the scenery? Here the skew is actually stronger, at almost 90/10.

You can make an argument that in recent years games have allowed for more character control. It’s often easier to customize your character now, and that can sometimes mean the gender. Unfortunately, in the wilds of the current marketplace it’s very difficult to give a systematic answer to that.

Does any of this matter? Here we have to be clear that we don’t have data on the effects of these patterns, just theories and research from other media. It’s pretty clear that the simple absence of a group is generally speaking not good for that group. Think about Blacks, Asians, Hispanics or Gays on TV. Before they were on, it was like they didn’t exist (the fancy academic term is symbolic annihilation), and then they had to go through a phase as villains or sidekicks before being able to be primary characters.

So no, I’m not claiming that the lack of female characters proves anything, but I suspect it probably doesn’t help much. Consider the young female player playing game X and thinking “where the heck are we?” At the time of the study, females were 38% of the playing audience, yet only 10% of playable characters. Is that related at all to the giant shortage of women entering computer science? Again, there’s no causal link in this study, but it probably doesn’t help much.

In Part II, I’ll go from simple numbers to actual body shapes and add some stats from the industry.(source:gamasutra


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