The introduction of playable female characters into genres/franchises that historically only had playable male characters often elicits arguments in gamer forums around the low prevalence of female gamers in that particular genre/franchise and how adding female characters is pandering to a demographic that hardly plays the game to begin with. Apart from the “is-ought” fallacy, this line of argumentation assumes that only women want playable female characters. But what about the men?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the prevalence of players who prefer to play characters of a different gender. In the survey, we also included non-binary gender options (for both player and character gender), so we’ll explore that as well.
The Gamer Motivation Profile
The Gamer Motivation Profile is a 5-minute survey that allows gamers to get a personalized report of their gaming motivations, and see how they compare with other gamers. Over 500,000 gamers worldwide have taken this survey. The 12 motivations that are measured in our model were identified via statistical analysis of how gaming motivations cluster together. You can get a more detailed description of our gamer sample here.
See how you compare with other gamers. Take a 5-minute survey and get your Gamer Motivation Profile along with personalized game recommendations.
The Survey Data
Alongside the Gamer Motivation Profile, we run a series of optional surveys that gamers can take. In a survey we ran between March 2020 and December 2020, we focused on in-game decisions collected responses from 2,956 gamers (69% male, 27% female, 4% non-binary). The median age was 24 (mean = 25.9, SD = 8.15).
Overall, players are most likely to prefer playable characters of the same gender.
This is true for players who identify as male, female, and non-binary. Notably, female players have the strongest preference for playing a character of the same gender (76%), whereas non-binary gender players—while still most likely to prefer non-binary gender characters—prefer non-binary gender characters only slightly more than female characters (38% vs. 33%).