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Video Game Sales: Does Diversity Pay?

By Helena Wu

The video game industry has grown into a mature market in the past decade, surpassing the size of the U.S. film industry in 2009. As a result of the rise in popularity of video gaming amongst many demographic groups of the American population, the underrepresentation of female and ethnic minorities in video games has become an increasingly relevant topic of discussion. This paper empirically examines the effects of including female and ethnic minority lead characters on the equilibrium sales volume of video games. Through the use of a reduced-­‐form regression, the equilibrium quantity is regressed on a list of exogenous variables pertinent to the interest of this study. The findings suggest that the inclusion of female and minority lead characters affects sales of different genres of games in distinct manners, suggesting that the video game market has a heterogeneous consumer base with a diverse range of preferences. In addition to empirical work, one of the main contributions of this paper is creating a new and unique dataset (N=712) on game attributes, especially with regard to character gender and ethnicity. This paper’s findings have implications on the game design decisions for video game producers.

Honor’s Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Kent Kimbrough, Loi Leachman | JEL Codes: D00, L1, L82 | Tagged: Entertainment, Ethnicity, Gender, Sales, Video Game

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