Once again congrats to the bloggers for top notch blogs this past week.  Such good reading makes for enjoyable breaks from blinking bleary eyed at my work computer.  But now I can return to the world of video game blogging with work deadlines behind me.   

I love gaming and I squeeze gaming time into my day to day schedule at the sacrifice of other activities, primarily sleep.  I look at the upcoming year of gaming with the anticipation of what can be nothing other than the new Microsoft and Sony consoles.  Yet, my excitement is tempered by whether the next gaming generation will address the reoccurring issues of sexism that we experienced throughout 2012 and now continue into 2013 or maintain the status quo of such incidences continually polarizing the gaming community. 

We are all gamers just trying to play games.  

Despite the growing numbers of woman gamers, gaming is currently a male dominated professional field.  During the past year I noticed in the comments and blogs here at GIO that whether discussing Borderlands 2's "Girlfriend Mode" to God of War: Ascension's no playable female characters in multiplayer to Twitter's #1reasonwhy of first person accounts detailing difficulty women face working in the gaming industry to Dead Island: Riptide's collector's edition featuring a mutilated female torso figurine that whatever our opinion at the onset of the discussion that we repeated our stances and arguments from previous incidents ultimately preaching to the choir of those who already agreed with us.

Rather than write a blog that sounds like a master's thesis on female characters in gaming I conducted an "amateur study."  In an attempt to see how gaming is represented as a whole I created a simple series of illustrations depicting gaming in 2012 based gender representation on box art.     

If you are reading this then you are an informed gamer who follows game releases and checks the internet for more information on your most anticipated titles.  However, another gamer exists.  Gamers who peruse video games whether on a store shelf or scrolling through internet catalogs with little to no understanding of any one game's context in the overall gaming industry.  These gamers base their purchase on the most common denominator in gaming marketing, the box art.   Every dollar spent by gamers judging a game only by its cover speaks just as loudly as our own informed dollars.   

In this amateur project, I compiled the cover art of every game released as a physical copy in 2012 on the Playstation 3 and/or Xbox 360.  The parameters are because I needed to confine my sleuthing to a reasonable amount of time.  I sorted the box art into groups based on gender representation of human characters.  I restricted categorizing characters' genders only for human characters in order to maintain clear definitions of female and male as gaming characters.  My inquiry is whether women characters are shown in video game box art, not a larger discussion on whether box art is masculine or feminine.   

Again, my focus was only on how are female and male characters in gaming are depicted in default box art.  No reversible or alternate covers are taken into account neither are any aspect of game play or narrative.  This is my attempt to illustrate what gender in gaming looks like in gaming's most basic and common representation.  Additionally, on a technical note I realized too late the difference in cover art dimensions between the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.  Some images have slight cropping in order to fit within the grid.  I am not familiar with every game, if any game is grouped incorrectly or you notice any other error please let me know. 

I organized the cover art into five categories and each category is ordered roughly by the release date:

Inanimate Objects, this is mostly vehicles but incudes all non-character based images.

Nonhuman, characters that aren't representations of humans.

Ensemble, a mix of female and male characters.

Female, only female characters and again the presence of a single male negated the cover's qualification in this category.

Male, only male characters and the presence of a single female negated the cover's qualification in this category.

The resulting images are below with minimal sarcastic accompanying text.  Draw your own conclusions on what you see. 

Inanimate objects: 14 out of 100 total games depicted.  In this context that throne made of swords really stands out. 

Nonhuman characters, 8 out of 100 total games depicted.  That unibrow bird is everywhere.  

Ensemble: 19 out of 100 games total depicted.  Where there is a team, there is a female character...somewhere. 

Female characters, 7 out of 100 total games depicted.  Well, there's 7 options.  I was partial to trying out Final Fantasy XIII-2 until I realized that those feathers are in lieu of pants.  

Male characters, 52 out of 100 total games depicted.  What kind of male character do you want to play?  Take your pick.  We have options.  

What do you see in 2012's box art?

Do you think box art is an accurate representation of gaming as a whole?

Does box art impact your gaming purchase decisions?

Do you feel that women are well represented in gaming?

Do you feel that sexism is a problem in the gaming industry?

Thanks for reading to the end!