Jay Castello
Freelance Writer
jaymcastello@gmail.com
@jayplaysthings

Emotional Games Awards Nominees Census

Further to my censuses of The Game Awards nominees and the DICE Awards nominees, here’s the census for the recently announced Emotional Games Awards nominees. It’s a really interesting one.

There were a total of 40 nominations. Of these, five had no human protagonists (or I wasn’t able to find the data for them). Two had both male and female protagonists. Two allowed players to choose their own character (both of these were Sunless Sea, which had two nominations). Of those nominations with fixed protagonists, eighteen were female, ten were male, and three were non-binary/unspecified (all of these were Ori and the Blind Forest, which gained 3 nominations).

Here’s the pie chart: 

Uh, wow, look at that green female slice. I’d hazard a guess that the reasons for this are twofold: indie games, which are more likely to have hard hitting storylines, are also more likely to include women than AAA games; and because the perceived audience for emotional (and indie games in general) is considered in a more nuanced way than your standard gritty FPS’ audience.

This also probably plays into the other diversities that I decided not to numerate: in this list are black women (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture), gay and bisexual women (Life is Strange), Inuit legends (Never Alone), disabled children (Beyond Eyes), Brazilian boys (Papo & Yo), and so on and so forth. A list like this really reminds me that there are great games out there, each with their own story to tell that doesn’t revolve around the standard straight white male protagonist. It’s a nice reminder and also a great encouragement for the industry to continue with and expand on this.

The fact that so few of the games come with player choice reiterates that fact that while player choice is a great option for some games, we also need games that tell explicitly female stories, as this allows us to better buy into the character and her tale. Women have their own stories to tell, and if this list is indicative, they’re often moving ones. This also applies, of course, to people of colour, LGBTQ+ characters, disabled characters, and more, who are also represented within the list.

I’m so interested in what this list has to say, and I’m really glad that the EGAs exist. I can’t wait until the winners are announced on February 12.  

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