Well, the results are in!
I created a Google Sheets document to make the following data more transparent. The sheet shows how I marked each character within each of the four gender categories and which games in the SSB series each character appears in. This document can be viewed by clicking here.
The first chart I created shows the number of characters by gender in each SSB game. The names of the games have been abbreviated in the chart image, but “SSB” stands for the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64.
With only the chart displayed above, it is difficult to determine whether or not Nintendo successfully diversified the genders of their playable characters over time. Because of this, I made a second chart to show the percentage of each gender category.
Nintendo has steadily improved the gender ratio of the SSB playable characters, and this chart may not give justice to how dramatic of an improvement has been made.
The original SSB game was 75% male, and the most recent SSB game is roughly 58% male. That’s a 22.6% decrease, which is impressive considering Nintendo mainly has male-dominated franchises to pick from. Nintendo can’t necessarily solve the problem by removing male characters– only by adding female character options and diluting the pool. I also support Nintendo’s decision to add more “player’s choice” characters to the game. Instead of adding only females, Nintendo is giving everyone more options to find characters they identify with by having multiple genders (even non-binary options) available as alternative forms of the same character.
Overall, these charts still show an imperfect, male-dominated video game culture. However, this analysis is evidence of improvement and signals that we are steadily heading toward a more inclusive and welcoming video game world.