3D Tune-In and Gender: Representation of Women in Games

Although roughly the same number of men and women of all ages play video games, there is a stereotype of the “average gamer” being in their teenage years and male. Although the industry is starting to catch up to the fact that there are significant numbers of women and girls who enjoy playing games, many games are still catering to the stereotyped demographic and helping to reinforce the stereotype.

Representation of women in games is a particular issue in current video game discourse. Too often the default playable character is male and games cater to a “male gaze”, showing women in subservient or “sexy” roles, secondary to the male protagonist, and without goals and stories of their own.

Additionally, games are often directed specifically “at girls”, with female stereotypical activities such as cooking, putting on makeup, or shopping encouraged. The marketing surrounding games has traditionally put them by default in the boys’ sections of toyshops or had specific girls’ sections in video game shops with only the abovementioned types of games in them. This contributes to women and girls feeling left out of “mainstream” games, or that the games are not “for them”.

Fortunately, the industry is starting to recognise that women are active gamers and want to play games that aren’t just about cooking and shopping. They want to play the same games as men, but still feel that the depiction of women in these games can be off-putting and exclusionary. And, it turns out, men want better representation of women in games too! So industry is slowly improving, with games increasingly including female protagonists, female playable characters, decreasing “eye candy” roles for women, and other improvements to representation of women in games that makes it easier for everyone to engage with a game.

In 3D Tune-In we want our games to be for everyone, and particularly for people of all ages and genders. Our games are not only supposed to be fun to play but should assist in educating and raising awareness of the effect of hearing loss, and should also help those who are hearing impaired to improve their hearing aid functionality.

In the European Commission’s definition of responsible research and innovation (RRI), gender is a pillar that the Commission wishes research projects to consider when developing their technologies . Therefore we are aiming to ensure that portrayals of women in the games we develop are positive and encouraging for women and girls to interact with, and in Dartanan, allowing for a playable female character as well as a male character, so that everyone can feel empowered by the game. 

Image Acknowledgement (CC0 Public Domain): Cuncon (Pixabay)