Gender in Play was a project by We in Games Finland and The National Council of Women of Finland that looked into character development and world-building within Finnish games studios’ games from the perspective of gender equality, character representation and gender-based violence. The project ran from January 2021 to June 2022 and was funded by the Ministry of Justice Finland.
The Gender in Play project shared information about gender-based violence in games for game developers and the public, and offered tools for game companies to take into account gender-based violence in games and diversify game character representations.
Download the summary of the Gender in Play project’s results here:
About the Gender in Play project
The first part of the study unfolded the overall situation of game character diversity in digital games made in Finland between 2018 – 2020. The study investigated the game characters’ gender representation, sexual orientation, skin color, age, and possible religious symbols and disability. Results were published in the article “Gender in Play – large-scale content analysis about the character representation and diversity in Finnish games“.
For analysing more in-depth the gender-based violence in games and to better understand character representation, the framework created by game culture researcher Usva Friman was used to analyse six selected games further. The first part of the publications from this analysis focused on the representation of women characters, the second on the representation of diverse casts and other minorities, and the last on gender-based violence against women characters.
In the second part of the Gender in Play project, interviews with Finnish game developers were accomplished in order to understand the process of character creation and the reasons and obstacles for diversifying game characters. The project results were summarised in the article “Best practices for creating diverse characters“.
The project had visiting writers from a producer Maria Maunula, who shared the results of the internal study about character diversity in their game company. Gamer Nova Liiho discussed the game character diversity from a player’s perspective, and MA Jenni Varila summarised her thesis about the importance of women characters’ diversity.
All articles written in the Gender in Play project can be found below. They are also collected in the PDF that can be downloaded here.