What are the favourite 'types' of people used on video game box-art?

A lot of the box-art we'd picked out seemed to avoid dwelling too long on facial detail altogether, choosing instead to either partially obscure the face, leave it hidden in shadow or offer only a view of the box-art model's back. Almost 20% of our gathered box-art featured faces that weren't clearly visible. It's like not having a face is the new having a face.

Conclusion: Drawing faces can be hard.

And while looking for hidden faces, we were amazed by how prolific headgear is on box-art. Whether hat, helmet, headscarf or hoody, scalp decoration appears on almost half of the 100 covers we'd collected.

Conclusion: Game characters wear hats.

How many game covers embrace the idea of using just a not-white person? Only 7 out of 100. That's 7%. And one of those is that blue dude from Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre.

Conclusion: In comparison to white game characters, there aren't many not-white game characters.

There were more box-arts that featured both white and not-white people cohabiting in harmony on a single cover. Of our 100 pieces of randomly picked box-art, 8 of them chose to portray both white and not-white types of people. And one of those was a menacing looking green man from Sacred 2: Fallen Angel.

Conclusion: Colour diversity is less than 10% important.

In addition to physical characteristics, another aspect we looked at was the actual style in which the types of people on box-art were 'drawn'. Split between realistic and cartoony styles, realism proved more popular, with 61 out of 100 box-arts using either photography or accurate depictions of people. The vast majority of cartoony box-art was from Wii and DS games.

Conclusion: Gaming is less real on Nintendo consoles.

Several types of people are definitely NOT box-art favourites. You'd be hard pushed to find many old types of people, for example. We only found 2 out of our 100 box-arts that used an image of a grey-haired wrinkly.

Conclusion: Being old is not aspirational.

It seems that overweight types of people are definitely a box-art no-no. 98% of our box-arts featured body-perfect images. And even then the only exceptions were hardly portraying super-flabby fatness - one was Mario's round belly and the other a bunch of darts players.

Conclusion: Imperfection is unacceptable.

So, what is the favourite type of person to use on video game box-art? It would be a young, slim, serious-looking, realistically rendered white man with an obscured face holding a weapon and wearing a head covering of some description. Based on that, we've determined that - out of our 100 box-arts - this is the one that ticked all of those boxes:

July 1, 2009

The Worst Box Art of 2008
The year's best examples of awful packaging

Game names that could mean something else
16 games crying out for a Photoshop job

Totally '80s box art!
Packaging from the era of day-glo everything


  • IcePotato - May 14, 2011 12:59 a.m.

    That is every create a wrestler on Smackdown vs Raw sans the weapon part.
  • jmtinfinitet - July 9, 2009 12:04 a.m.

    Lol @ the darts cover art
  • mimus - July 8, 2009 7:29 p.m.

    We don't know if master cheif is white either :O
  • KillerPotato - July 7, 2009 6:20 p.m.

    the Tiger Woods '10 box art looks like he is being shot...and enjoying it!!!
  • Shane1403 - July 4, 2009 6:15 p.m.

    great article guys but there were a few things that were a bit off but they weren't important enough to change the outcome. I'm sorry to tell you though.... Vin Diesel isn't black. I do think the amount of games containing scantily clad women is disgraceful :( @AnonymouZ i ditto that as well
  • Millllls - July 4, 2009 2:43 p.m.

    Vin Diesel Isn't Black??
  • thejadefalcon - July 4, 2009 10:16 a.m.

    I'm confused. First, games companies want to have more female gamers. Then they have few female rolemodels and settle on Sims ripoffs. They don't have female characters on the majority of the boxart. The ones there are are either sexed up to "appeal" to male gamers (it may only be 3% of the total, but it's 30% of the female only ones) or just simply ridiculous. If games wanted to have a true 50/50 audience, then surely all games should have male and female people on their covers and male and female characters to play. I'd say more, but my head hurts trying to understand the morons in the marketing sections of companies.
  • ChristianWitzel - July 4, 2009 1:58 a.m.

    I second Zayleffein's post! It's good to see that sex doesn't always win...
  • noobeater - July 2, 2009 10:37 p.m.

    great article...brits rule and u all know it! anyway i would say vin deisal is white hes nowhere near dark enough to be considered not...tho he has the coolest voice i will ever know and hes kickass
  • AnonymouZ - July 2, 2009 7:57 p.m.

    "pretty sure it just means prototype is the most generic cliched boxart" i ditto this.
  • Ryannnn - July 2, 2009 6:50 p.m.

    LMAO I love how they use the phrase NOT-WHITE Loool tahts if you get the humour behind it ;D
  • IIIJabbaIII - July 2, 2009 6:41 p.m.

    @darkfly23: LMFAO! @newton: Have you ever been hit with a british flag before? hurts =/...but for that reason, tiger woods and tennis 2009 should be in the weapon category cuz golf clubs and tennis rackets hurt a lot too :P Also there is a fat guy in the ceville box art.
  • Setsunakai - July 2, 2009 10:05 a.m.

    Not-White People should be labeled "Black people" because there are countless games listed where there was a sole Asian character (you have to remember that when dealing with a JP all the characters, unless specifically stated, are gonna be Japanese regardless of hair or eye color[they will most likely define race in appearance with jaw line or body build]) for example: Last remnant naruto persona tokyo beat down OneChanbara xblades NinjaBlade
  • PS360Rulez - July 2, 2009 7:28 a.m.

    garnsr you have just asked the greatest of all questions. Thas why you get a tv with picture in picture and play mass effect while watching porn in the small screen. Not that I would ever rly advise doing tht... cough* cough*
  • samownzsnake - July 2, 2009 6:18 a.m.

    i think box art designers strive for the sexy badass ninja hero (ehEH! uh, Assassins creed, prototype, ninja gaiden II, Chronicles of Riddick AoDA)...
  • michaelmcc827 - July 2, 2009 4:21 a.m.

    this was...genuinely entertaining, I am very pleased. btw people- Vin Diesel is hispanic
  • zayleffein - July 2, 2009 3:42 a.m.

    Whaaat?! You mean scantily-clad big breasted women aren't the winner? I am pleased to think that a tragic hero, and not an overly sexxed, ill-proportioned female, would appeal to the masses. Despite the strange way GR determined the results, maybe this shows that people enjoy a good story over alien sex or tit physics.
  • GlassPants - July 1, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    I found this informative and surprisingly disturbing. I don't care if I'm looking too deep, but every ad person in gaming SHOULD read this article. ... However, being EXTREMEXXXLY racist I approve of the IDEAL box-art person.
  • flareboy18 - July 1, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    Wait, Alex Mercer isnt white, he is whatever he just consumed!
  • Spybreak8 - July 1, 2009 9:58 p.m.

    Oh and I think the ultimate box art is Fable II. Series white male holding weapons, no head clothing though, with a demon shadow. Then on the other side, that's right we've got a two sided box art, a series male Demon with a good character shadow. This box art in relation to what makes Fable II, (Good and Evil) are perfect in my opinion.

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