Game Audience Surveys
Each year, we conduct research with game audiences in the form of a survey. These survey results filter into journalistic publications and academic work, as well as providing foundations for future research and studies.
The Queerly Represent Me 2018 survey was conducted in March - April 2018, and remained open for approximately four weeks. This survey primarily contained quantitative questions inspired by the qualitative coding conducted on the responses to the 2017 survey.
The survey received 414 responses; however, some of these had to be discounted (due to duplicate responses or obvious trolls). Approximately 20 responses were removed from the data, with this number varying slightly for individual columns (as some participants seemingly gave troll responses for some questions but acted sincerely for others). The conditions for how we determined what is classed as a troll response were recorded and may be available upon request.
Responses are currently being analysed and more information will be provided once our work with these responses is complete. The questions we asked respondents are below.
In your own words, what are 'marginalised groups'? Do you have examples of identities that could be considered 'marginalised'?
In your own words, what is 'tokenism'?
In your own words, what does the term 'diversity' mean? In your own words, what does the term 'representation' mean?
What is your opinion on increasing diversity and representation in games?
In your own words, what is 'historical accuracy' in the context of games?
Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements.
- Making games more diverse always results in tokenism.
- I would prefer to see tokenistic representations of marginalised groups than no representation in a game.
- Games only include representation to pander to diverse audiences.
- Greater diversity in games benefits everybody.
- Creators should be allowed to make games however they like.
- If a game includes representations of marginalised people, the creators were probably forced to include them.
- I am happy for games to include diverse representation provided the creators weren’t pressured to include it.
- People who play games deserve to see people like themselves in games.
- Players should be able to empathise with a character, no matter their identity.
- I can connect with a protagonist more if I can see part of myself in them.
- More diverse characters mean audiences will empathise with a wider variety of people.
- Character personality or backstory is more important to me than their skin colour, gender, and sexuality.
- The majority of people who play games are white, straight, cisgender men.
- ‘Casual’ games (e.g. mobile games, visual novels, interactive narratives) aren’t ‘real’ games.
- The majority of games being released by big development studios or publishers feature white, straight, cisgender men as protagonists.
- I don’t mind diverse characters being in some games, provided it’s not every game.
- Videogame characters shouldn’t be from marginalised groups unless there’s a good reason.
- Representation is about increasing diversity across the whole of the games industry, rather than within every individual game.
- Individual games should not need to meet a ‘quota’ of diverse characters.
- Games should be diverse because reality is diverse.
- Games don’t need to be diverse because games are fictional.
- Games should only be diverse when it does not interfere with historical accuracy.
- Inclusivity is more important than historical accuracy.
- Diversity in characters creates more interesting stories.
- Games with similar protagonists can only tell similar stories.
- Diversity is irrelevant because game mechanics are more important.
- Diversity should never be included in a game at the expense of the game’s mechanics.
- I don’t mind who the characters are in the games I play so long as they are still fun.
- Diversity in games serves no real purpose.
- Broader representation in games helps people see what is possible.
- Creators should be encouraged to increase the diverse voices represented in their games.
- The people I see in videogames should reflect the types of people I see in reality.
Considering your racial background, gender, sexuality, ablebodiedness, etc. Would you consider yourself part of any privileged groups (white, cis, male, straight, ablebodied, neurotypical, etc)? If you feel comfortable sharing, which privileged groups are you part of?
Considering your racial background, gender, sexuality, ablebodiedness, etc. Would you consider yourself part of any marginalised groups (groups other than white, cis, male, straight, ablebodied, neurodivergent, etc)? If you feel comfortable sharing, which marginalised groups are you part of?
The Representations of Diversity in Games survey was made in February 2017, and remained open for one week (7 days). We released the survey on a Monday evening, and it quickly spread (with the help of key contacts) to a range of audiences, to ensure a broad sample. Although the diversity or scope of a sample is less important in qualitative studies than in primarily quantitative studies, we were pleased to find a diverse range of people completed the survey (based on the demographic data we sought and information regarding where participants found the survey URL).
In the week the survey was open, we received 6,010 responses. However, some of these had to be discounted (due to duplicate responses or obvious trolls). Approximately 200 responses were removed from the data, with this number varying slightly for individual columns (as some participants seemingly gave troll responses for some questions but acted sincerely for others). The conditions for how we determined what is classed as a troll response were recorded and may be available upon request.
The survey contained a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions, for the purposes of establishing demographics (particularly in terms of sexuality and gender, due to Queerly Represent Me's focus on these aspects) and having key data to use for comparisons / correlations. The qualitative data in each column is gradually being categorised using the constant comparative method of qualitative coding, and the resulting categories are being used to find further correlations. We have divided the data into several data sets, so that we can easily analyse within and between them.
- How often do you think about whether there are people similar to you (in terms of gender, race, sexuality, body type, etc) in the games you play? (scale of 1-5)
- How often do you think about whether there are people from a range of diversity groups (including those you don't identify with) in the games you play? (scale of 1-5)
- Do you consider it important to represent diverse identities in games?
- While considering your answer to the previous question, please explain why / why not.
- What details would make you love a game's character creation screen / system? Why?
- What is an example of a character creation screen / system that you love? Why?
- What details would make you dislike a game's character creation screen / system? Why?
- What is an example of a character creation screen / system that you dislike? Why?
How important do you consider... (scale of 0-3)
- Diverse sexuality options
- More than one gender option
- More than two gender options (including nonbinary genders)
- Diverse pronoun options
- Diverse race / ethnicity options
- Diverse body type / size options
- Options for involuntary skin markings (blemishes, freckles, scars, etc.)
- Options for voluntary skin markings (tattoos, piercings, etc.)
- Options for visible chronic health conditions / disabilities (vision impairment, loss of limb, wheelchair use, etc.)
- Realistic graphics
- Do you consider it important to be able to play as a character similar to yourself (in terms of gender, race, sexuality, body type, etc.) in games that have character creation screens / systems? Why / why not?
- Do you identify as having a sexuality OTHER THAN heterosexual/straight?
- How do you describe your sexuality? What term/s do you use?
- What is your favourite representation of diverse sexuality in games? Why?
- What is your least favourite representation of diverse sexuality in games? Why?
- How do you feel when / if you see your own sexuality depicted in a game?
- How do you feel when you see other sexualities depicted in a game?
- Is there a game character who feels most like you in terms of their sexuality? If so, who?
- Do you identify as being a gender OTHER THAN cisgender?
- How do you describe your gender? What term/s do you use?
- What is your favourite representation of diverse gender in games? Why?
- What is your least favourite representation of diverse gender in games? Why?
- How do you feel when / if you see your own gender / gender identity depicted in a game?
- How do you feel when you see other genders / gender identities depicted in a game?
- Is there a game character who feels most like you in terms of their gender? If so, who?
- Which of the following diverse sexualities, genders, and relationship structures would you most like to see represented more in games? (Please select up to 5 responses)
- Are there any games released in the last twelve (12) months that you feel feature particularly positive or negative representations of diverse identities? If so, what are they? Can you share some details?
10% - Life is Strange
9% - Mass Effect series
13% - Undertale
7% - Fallen London & Life is Strange
12% - Mass Effect series
9% - Fallout series & Stardew Valley
18% - Dragon Age series
17% - Read Only Memories
15% - Fallout series
14% - Saints Row series
If you use a screen reader, go here to access a version of these graphs with full description.
Additional Writing / Presentations
The Queer Representation survey was a qualitative survey conducted in May 2016. Its purpose was to obtain preliminary data that would inform the creation of Queerly Represent Me, as well as indicate research areas for further academic study. Some of the quantitative data (derived through the constant comparative method of coding) and qualitative analysis has been made available online, as well as the further writing that these preliminary results informed. This survey also led to the creation of the Representations of Diversity in Games (2017) survey.
The Queer Representation survey was open to participants for two (2) weeks, and had 158 participants. It primarily enquired about representations of sexuality, gender, and relationships, and asked participants to discuss their favourite and least favourite examples. It asked the following questions:
We also asked a number of general questions, allowing participants to share any additional thoughts that they may had regarding representation. Lastly, we provided the option for participants to tell me about their own sexuality and gender identity, as we were interested in seeing the way their representation priorities were influenced by their own identities.
If you have additional queries about the survey, or are interested in using our data in your own work, please contact us via email.