A project to diversify the gender roles and worldview of games
In 2021, We in Games Finland and The National Council of Women of Finland implement a project that empowers Finnish game studios to create more diverse characters and character worldviews in their games.
The project examines the character development and world-building within Finnish games studios’ games from the perspective of gender equality and representation.
The project will explore possible obstacles and challenges studios face in the creation of equal game worlds, and promotes healthy discussions about gender stereotypes and gender-based violence in video games. The aim is to create a set of best practices and help game studios find ways to diversify the gender roles of the characters in their games while reducing gender-based violence in-game worlds.
We will provide further educational material on this topic once the research phase of the project is complete.
This article concludes the quantitative analysis of games made by Finnish developers from 2018 to 2020 that were based on orginal IP and had human-like characters. In the analysis, gender, skin color, religious symbols, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender-based violence were studied. The results show that women characters are playable characters almost as often as men. Transgender and non-binary characters, religious symbols or characters with disabilities were rare in this sample. It is also noted that the chosen approach was not suitable to examine gender based violence, so this topic will be covered in our upcoming articles.
The article will present how character representation and diversity in games have been researched until now and will draw upon some of the key findings and most relevant aspects examined globally. It will show that some important steps into examining the issues of characters’ representation in the game industry have clearly already been made. More importantly, it will discuss the lack of true diversity and will emphasize the limitations which are yet to be overcome on a global scale. At the end of the article, a full list of references will be included (with links for open source publications, when possible) for everyone who searches for inspiring and thought-provoking literature about the examined phenomena.
The four-member steering group includes Researcher, M.A. Usva Friman from The Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University; Project Manager of Turv@verkko project by Women’s Line, Lic.Soc.Sc., D.A Louna Hakkarainen; Specialist at the Council for Gender Equality (TANE), Ph.D. Nina Järviö; and Head of HR, a member of the Leadership team at Rovio Entertainment Corporation, M.A. Heini Kaihu.
The We In Games members facilitating this project are Taina Myöhänen, Emilia Machuca, Licia Prehn, and Tarja Porkka-Kontturi, together with Antonio Rodrigues, Helmi Hagelin, Nevena Sićević , and Tuuli Hypén. The National Council of Women of Finland’s representatives for the project are Project Manager Liisa Ketolainen and Project Coordinator Aino Hiltunen.
If you wish to learn more about the project, please contact Taina Myöhänen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Special grants have been received from the Ministry of Justice for the implementation of the project.