Shining the Spotlight on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Gamers

Shining the Spotlight on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Gamers

Over the past ten years, gaming has flourished to become the largest entertainment industry in the world. Game players are as diverse as the world itself. There are 3 billion people in the world-from all backgrounds and demographics-united by playing video games.

Driven by consumers’ tastes, there is increasing emphasis in the industry to make characters in games and the staff working on them reflect the diverse player base. While the situation has markedly improved, the market still faces challenges regarding diversity and inclusion (D&I).

To celebrate player diversity and highlight some of the challenges when it comes to D&I in gaming, we’d like to present findings from our Gamer Sentiment Study on Diversity & Inclusion, focusing on the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) gaming community.

The insights in this article are based on a 2020 survey with 2,015 gamers aged 10-50 in the United States, including 186 gamers AAPI gamers. We are currently hard at work on our 2021 survey, so reach out if you want to know more!


Table of Contents


Authentic Representation Has Improved in Gaming, But AAPI Gamers Tend to Be Overlooked

D&I is now a long-term goal for most development studios. Over the past five years, publishers have become more aware that anyone can be a gamer, increasing efforts to reflect player diversity in their games. To that end, ethnic minorities are now better represented not only in the gaming workforce but in the games themselves.

Around half of all gamers in the U.S. think it’s important for the games they play to feature diverse characters. However, many games are still struggling to authentically represent those part of the AAPI community. These gamers account for a prominent share of the wider gaming community.

AAPI gamers are also less likely to find that the representation of these identities has improved over the past two years. Games like Life Is Strange: True Colors and The Last of Us: Part II are shining examples of AAPI representation in games. The AAPI community has noted these efforts, but there is much work to be done.

Safer Spaces Could Increase Gaming Community Engagement and Make It More Meaningful

Like most game enthusiasts, AAPI gamers enjoy engaging with games beyond just playing:

  • Almost 70% of the group watches game-related video content.
  • 44% visit gaming communities at least weekly.
  • But our D&I data suggests that AAPI gamers don’t always feel safe on these platforms.


Moving Towards Authentic Representation and Safer Spaces: Diverse & Inclusive Talent Means Diverse & Inclusive Games

Over the past year, publishers have made sincere efforts to represent racial and ethnic minorities authentically. Games like Deathloop, Tchia, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Life is Strange: True Colors point to a growing willingness for game creators to feature characters from wider backgrounds. This is proof that game protagonists don’t need to be muscle-bound Caucasian men in order to succeed.

Diversity and inclusion in game development inherently becomes more authentic if studios themselves embrace these values internally. A diverse pool of workers can lead to new perspectives and therefore innovation. Not only that, 60% of gamers in the U.S. find it important for game developers to hire people from different backgrounds.

Still, a third of gamers in the U.S. think ethnic minorities represent less than 10% of the game development workforce. And our data shows that not everyone is content with the state of gaming communities and representation in games.

Our research shows that around half of gamers in the U.S. find it important that brands take a stance on societal issues, regardless of the respondents’ backgrounds.

Acknowledging and elevating diverse creators is one option for brands and platforms to support their community and take a stance. A notable example here is Twitch’s celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Month. This kind of promotion resonates well with the gaming community.

Across the board, diverse and inclusive titles and game companies has become important for gamers in the United States. Companies slower to become internally diverse and inclusive are quite literally paying the price.

We’re proud to say that Newzoo is already helping many companies double their effort to make the games market more diverse and inclusive.

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