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How this works: We randomly collected together 100 recent examples of video game box-art all completely unrelated with the exception of one common factor: they all featured a person or people as part of the design. We then looked long and hard at all the examples to find out what types of people are most commonly used on video game box-art. And, by extension, in video games. This is what we discovered. Prepare to be partially amazed by our findings.
First up, we divided our 100 pieces of box-art into three groups: Male, Female and Mixed. The latter being box-art that features both male and female types of people. We were entirely not surprised to discover that the majority of box-art exclusively features men/boys.
Conclusion: Gamers are mostly men and men like games with men in them.
Sitting politely with legs-crossed at the other end of the gender spectrum are females. Compared to men/boys, women/girls barely get a sniff when it comes to occupying a cover image all to themselves. Only 10 of our 100 bits of box-art exclusively starred a female. That's 10%, which isn't a lot.
Conclusion: Most women are probably too busy buying shoes to care whether they're being represented equally in the world of games.
There was a strong showing in our 'mixed' category, that is box-art that used both male and female types of people.
Conclusion: The vulnerable femininity of a woman is more acceptable on box-art when it is offset by the dangerous masculinity of a man.
Having divided our original 100 box-arts into three groups we noticed other trends. In particular, if there's a man on the box, chances are he's holding a gun or some other weapon. Out of the 54 all-male box-arts, 27 of those men (that's 50%) were portrayed as being tooled up. The other half were predominately doing sporty things.
Conclusion: There are lots of games with men killing things.
The box-art ladies also had a preference for weapons. Out of the 10 all-female box-arts, 6 of those women (that's 60%) were shown holding a killing device. They just look a lot sexier doing it.
Conclusion: There are games with women killing things. But not as many as men killing things.
Another thing we spotted was that all the men looked moody and extremely serious-faced. In fact, of the 54 all-male box-arts, there was only one that showed the cover man with a smiling face. And that was for Anno: Create a New World, a Wii game that looks way too happy for its own good.
Conclusion: Men in games are serious.
In comparison, half of the women box-art cover stars wore a smile.
Conclusion: Women in games are fun.
One thing we were expecting to see plenty of was gratuitously exposed lady flesh. But not so. Only a measly 3 of our box-arts (that's 3%) featured what we would describe as nearly-naked women. That's a massive shift since the old days when big-breasted, barely-clothed barbarian women were considered obligatory box-art furniture.
Conclusion: Box-art needs more big-breasted, barely-clothed barbarian women.
The box-art revelations continue on the next page!