Yesterday I created a short survey and published it on several subredits, and as comments, on Reddit. The immediate response was huge with 10 respondents the first minute; over 200 the first hour and over 4000 in 12 hours. I could not be happier.
I’ve got a number of comments from women complaining that there’s no option for them to answer why they play a female character, as have I got a number of comments from men saying pretty much the same but for when they play a male character. I will give a response to this below, but in short: I am only interested in why men play using a female character.
The idea of this study came when I was out bowling with a few friends. While talking about RPGs, and D&D, my friend said something that I’ve been quite curious about before: He likes to play a female character. There is, of course, no error in doing so – not any choice of course (this as a response to men obviously feeling judged by this survey, and I will respond to that as well), but I want to know Why this choice? Why does this create a difference, a variance, in game play for male.
I set out to create some hypothesis that I’d then would try to falsificate. These hypothesis would need to be short, concise and easy to falsificate.
Some would say that the choice is at random, or no big deal. I would say that they are wrong and that this choice is founded on something. And I want to find out why. Why is there a difference between playing with a male and a female character?
Now the method. I’ve created a survey and published it on some subreddits at Reddit and on Twitter. These survey answers would need to be complement by interviews for a discourse analysis.
The survey was design to let female participate and letting them respond to how whether or not they play as male or female, but then not being able to respond to anything else. This because I am not interested in women’s choice of sex, but still want an idea of the percentage of female respondents. So the first question was if the respondent is male, female or other. Other being designed just as female, and for both of them the survey end after that initial page.
On the next page respondents that said that they were men, could check a multitude of alternatives of why they play as female. These alternatives were inspired by comments from previous threads, as well as being constructed by me. I also added a box for them to add their own alternative, if missing, and also a text box for them to comment, in their own words, why they play with a female character.
The last page was control questions and some more info. The first being if they consider themselves being feminist. This due to Reddit, among others, being flooded with ideas that feminism is something evil. This being controlled by the question whether or not they would say that men and women are equals. Now, this question could create some confusion – some understanding it as ”Are men an women equal in today’s society” or ”Men and women should be considered equals”. To try to overcome this issue, not at all perfectly, but ever so slightly, I added a text box for them to comment on that.
I choose age as an open text field question so that I can create any kind of age group later in SPSS/PSPP (and sort out any non-integer). And the same goes for education level, where I did not want to leave some level out, and seen as they differ around the globe and not all swedes, for example, knowing that the Gymnasie is called ”upper secondary”, I could conclude that the same goes for everyone. Using digital tools, these answers can later be grouped if necessary.
Now for the results. 4096 people responded to my survey. (I love numbers like that)
3733 of these were men (91.1%), 322 woman (7.9%), and 41 (1%) responded as ‘Other’
Of these 497 (10.4%) stated that they always played as female; and 1078 (26.3%) Never plays as a female.
Male being the most played sex, with 2713 (66.2%) responses and 1383 (33.8%) female.
5.1%, or 456 people use just one character when playing RPGs. 66% got more than one, but uses one mainly, and 18.9% uses more than one, but in an equal matter.
Not diving to deep into the Why play as female- alternatives, the most chosen alternatives is ”For variety” – 1522 responses (50.6%); Stuff in the game might differ – 1153 (38.4%); Rather be looking at a women – 1267 (42.1%).
When asked if the player feels most badass, while playing a male or a female, a total of 1844 responses (61.1%) said that it is the same for both.
71.2% does not consider themselves as feminist, but 81.4% state that women and men are equal.
In conclusion, the data does show some indications in relation to quite a few of my hypothesis. I does not however, end here. To begin with, this was just a pilot study and I’ve gotten a lot of comments, some helpful, of how to make the next, and real, one better. That being said, it is not a promise that there will be a new survey later on, but I might very well start with the interviews. I am unsure if this will become my master thesis, or if I’m just going to work on this outside of my thesis – or at all.
I have a LOT of comments to go trough, before I know anything for certain.
The survey is closed and I got over 4000 answers, and I could not be happier. Also I got 40 persons willing to be interviewed.
I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your participation.
EDIT: After I downloaded all the data, I changed the questions just to let people answer if they are male or female, or if they play using a male or female character.