Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
 
Bartle types, gender, and game design

I stumbled upon an infographic on percentage of women playing various different video games, which shows that for some type of games there are more women than men playing, while League of Legends only has 10% women playing, and EVE Online even just 4%. And I was thinking that this is a matter of measuring what is easily measurable and then reducing a far more complex issue to a simple gender issue. EVE Online is not a sexist game, doesn't feature overly sexualized or victimized female NPCs, or limits you to playing male characters. If you took the typical list of "how to make games more gender equal", they clearly don't apply to this case.

That is because the underlying more complex issue is one of Bartle types. EVE Online and League of Legends are clearly games that nearly exclusively cater to the Killer Bartle type. People use words like "toxic community" and "cutthroat" to describe these games. That is only a gender issue insofar as women are more likely to prefer Explorer and Socializer Bartle type gameplay. Men who are Explorers / Socializers are as much repelled by these Killer games as women are.

I'm not sure whether anything can be done to for example make MOBA games more accessible to other Bartle types and thus increase the female participation rate as well as widening the male audience. Even Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm appears to me to not offer much content for Bartle types other than Killers.

But where I see a big opportunity for improvement is in sandbox virtual world games. Currently many of them are far less successful than they could be because the Killers have been given free reign, and they are driving out anybody else. It is a mistake in a game like DayZ to give players lots of tools to kill or torture each other, but not enough tools to cooperate or socialize. A survival sandbox game based around cooperation being more efficient than lone wolves would not just be much more realistic in terms of early human history, it would also attract a larger and more diverse crowd.

Comments:
So.. Minecraft then?
 
"It is a mistake in a game like DayZ to give players lots of tools to kill or torture each other, but not enough tools to cooperate or socialize. A survival sandbox game based around cooperation being more efficient than lone wolves would not just be much more realistic in terms of early human history, it would also attract a larger and more diverse crowd"

Do you have an example of this? DayZ is massively successful (easily one of the most successful mods/games in recent years), so if anything it would be easier to show that messing with that formula by limiting players too much would lower success, not raise it.

Plus, Minecraft is mostly male, and I can't think of a more explorer-based game than that.

Just based on that list, I'd say females go towards easier, simpler games. As you move down the list, the games get more complex or require more gaming skill.

But, as you move down, you also see some of the most successful games in their genres the lower you go (Skyrim, CoD, LoL/DoTA, GTA), so I'm not sure this is so much a problem, but instead correct market identification and just overall good game design.

(Plus I'd guess there are more females total playing LoL than SingStar, so again, not sure this is really a problem that needs solving for many successful games).
 
I don't really think the issue is lack of cooperating or socializing tools, it's that if you allow open-PvP it overwhelms everything. You see this even in EVE, in which the majority of players play PvE in the "safe" highsec areas. Gevlon's numbers showed that only a very small percentage of them will encounter a single ganker in a year of playing. And yet, they STILL have to fit their ship primarily to discourage/survive ganks, and for the actual function of the ship only secondarily. Otherwise, they are widely acknowledged as an idiot.
 
Damn straight. And they'd boost their male player base too, because I bet I'm not the only guy out there who dislikes "killer friendly" games.
 
Well, if you go for the nurture instead of nature train of thought, you could also change culture so that there are more women who subscribe the killer bartle type.
 
The link to that infographic now goes to a page that reads "
Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.
"


 
That is the fundamental problems of using links.
 
Some demographic information here:

http://np.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/2xa9a5/gender_and_computer_game_players_who_seems_to/

Seems like a good thing if different games attract different demographics. I mean, that would be actual DIVERSITY, right?
 
Agreed. Just saying that if a game designer wants more female players or a wider audience, he needs to look at gameplay, and not just how women are depicted in the game.
 
While NPCs in League or EVE aren't sexist or sexualized, players are very much are.

"Rape those bitches" is a common call in EVE to engage opposing players.

Maybe it's not the content, or gameplay, but the hands off approach of the devs about online interactions that make EVE non-female friendly.
 
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