A study conducted by EA's Global Consumer Insights team has found that 56% of 2,252 survey participants consider it important for companies to make their games more inclusive. The survey did not specify games, and was instead a broadly crafted research project meant to get a better feel for the larger landscape of the video game industry and its consumers.
Diversity and representation in gaming is an important quality for many consumers. Gaming has traditionally had stereotypical leads that populate each genre, and it wasn't until recently that more characters of different racial, sexual, or cultural backgrounds began appearing in more mainstream games. Blizzard's Overwatch and Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends have been praised for their portrayals of marginalized communities. EA is the publisher behind Apex Legends, so it's unsurprising to see the company also produce a survey concerning inclusivity in games.
EA's Jenny Shi led the study, which began in May of 2018, and posted the findings earlier this month on Medium. Inclusion in games is a topic about diversity that's just as diverse in how many areas it covers, so Shi also provided examples to give the participants in the study context regarding what was meant. Inclusivity in the study included character creators with wider ranges of skin colours and body sizes, healthy chat experiences, stories with various cultures as a focal point, and features that help people with different needs access and play games properly. In the study, an impressive 1,261 people reported that they consider it "important" for companies to make their games more inclusive.
That doesn't include people who were "neutral" on the matter, however. Factoring in those responders, who didn't feel it was important but also wouldn't find a more inclusive approach to affect their gaming purchases in any way, brings the total of people who actively want or agree with an increase in inclusivity in games to 87%. Only 13% of the over 2,200 people surveyed felt that inclusivity in gaming was explicitly not an important topic.
The survey also included some other valuable insights into the gaming industry. 45% of respondents were actually more likely to play a game that included the criteria for inclusive game design, while over 50% of the surveyed gamers also felt that representation was currently getting better in the industry. Tellingly, the biggest gaming concern players have after the quality of the game itself was toxicity, with 61% of respondents feeling somewhat concerned about it while 14% outright identified toxicity as the reason they had stopped playing specific games.
Shi is planning to continue research on these topics, including those regarding toxicity in gaming, but for now, the study already indicates something big: developers seem to be a little more afraid of backlash regarding 'forced' inclusivity than they should be. Fans clearly want more diversity in their games, and it appears the industry is ready for some more change as gaming becomes more expressive and interested in supporting marginalized groups and communities.