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Feminist Frequency’s Gender Breakdown of E3 2016 Shows How Disappointing Representation Was This Year



Feminist Frequency has released its report on the gender breakdown of E3 2016, and the results are disappointing, though perhaps unsurprising. According to the report, only two games featured exclusively female protagonists: ReCore and Horizon: Zero Dawn, both of which are carryover titles from last year. As well, only 29 games allowed you to choose the gender of your character. Both of these numbers represent a fairly significant dropoff from the numbers shown at E3 2015. That year, there were seven titles with exclusively female protagonists and 35 games that allowed you to choose your character’s gender.

The report goes on to talk about how even the ability to choose your character’s gender is flawed, as it only represents a binary choice; none of the games feature an option to play as non-binary characters. This is especially important to keep in mind as we talk about representation, because folks with some of the most marginalized identities still have yet to see themselves represented in games. While there have been a few trans characters such as Krem from Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Mizhena from Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, each time trans characters are released, it’s often to a firestorm of backlash and vitriolic statements. That is especially true for Mizhena, as we talked about a while back.

As I mentioned in my own roundup of female-fronted games of E3 2016, I was fairly disappointed with the numbers, so much so that I wasn’t sure if I was incorrect or if I had just missed an entire presentation or something. We keep talking about and hoping and expecting games to be better, but it looks like the industry can’t even improve on simple numbers.

Representation becomes even more important as we dance around the edge of the rabbit hole that is virtual reality. It stands as one of the most effective ways of digitally immersing somebody into an experience, and as such, it should reflect more than just the experience of a single gender.

You should absolutely head on over to the Feminist Frequency website for the full report, which also breaks down the number of games that focus on combat versus the games that don’t.

(image via Shutterstock/logoboom)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.