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Player Perspectives Measuring Diversity

Posted Dec 11, 2009 by Jon Wood

Player Perspectives  Measuring Diversity Columnist Jaime Skelton sets her sights on diversity in online games and whether or not it really makes a difference in the end.

Jaime Skelton

I read an interesting blog post the other day from Emily Taylor, a game designer for EverQuest II, about population ratios. More pointedly, the post talked about the ratio of male to female NPCs in Champions Online, and how female characters seemed highly underrepresented for no discernible purpose. She asks at the end, “I wonder how many other games suffer a similar bias, and nobody's even noticed?”

Curious, I flipped out a pen and paper, and took a run around Dalaran in World of Warcraft. Surely a city of erudite mages in one of the world's most popular MMO would have a fair balance of men and women, correct? After a count of every NPC in both Horde and Alliance areas, as well as the sewers – although I'm sure I missed one or two of the roaming flavor NPCs – the count wasn't entirely disappointing. The NPC population of Dalaran is over 250, and of that, 60% are male, 40% are female. While vendors and service men and women (NPCs like trainers, innkeepers, bankers) were pretty even for the small single city sample, there were more male guards than female (40 to 24). The real number discrepancy came with “flavor” NPCs, the NPCs that are there for quests, to lend story, or simply to add a little life by wandering around the city. For those NPCs, the count was a ridiculous 41 male to 14 female.

Read Player Perspectives Measuring Diversity.