Welcome to my computational media project Super Smash Bros: Playable Character Gender Analysis. Here I will be exploring how Nintendo has diversified (or failed to diversify) the playable characters’ genders in the Super Smash Bros series over time.
The Super Smash Bros (SSB) video game series was created by Masahiro Sakurai and published by Nintendo. While SSB is known to have many playable characters, none of these characters are unique to only SSB games. SSB is actually a conglomerate of major characters from many other popular games. The object of SSB is to fight characters (either played by other people or controlled by the computer) to complete challenges and work through stories. SSB has five games in the series and is playable on seven different consoles. Today, tens of millions of copies of SSB have been sold worldwide and there is a large competitive community dedicated to the game.
Before I get started on my timeline and analysis, there are two things I would like you to know.
The first is that the gender of characters is not always clear. I will go over how I determined the genders of the characters shortly, but it is important to realize that these characters are fictional and not always intended to take on qualities such as gender, race or sexuality.
The second is that I love Nintendo and I love the Super Smash Bros series. It is with the utmost respect and adoration that I choose this game for my analysis.
Now onto the gender categories I am using for this project. In an effort to make my analysis as simple yet accurate as possible, I have broken it down to four categories:
Male: For characters that have been identified by their franchise as male.
Female: For characters that have been identified by their franchise as female.
Player’s Choice: For characters that could be male or female depending on the choice of the player.
Ambiguous: For genderless characters, or characters who have genders but the gender is not specified. For example, Pokemon are often gendered in the Pokemon series, but whether the player is using a female or a male Pikachu (for example), is not specified in SSB. Ambiguous was also assigned to teams of characters where there was a mix of male and female characters. For example, there is one female and one male Ice Climber. The Ice Climbers were marked as ambiguous because these characters are used together, as a “one character” unit.
I would like to quickly review some other terminology before I continue.
Playable character: These are characters that the player can control during regular gameplay. This is opposed to NPCs, or non-playable characters who cannot be controlled by the player.
DLC: Stands for DownLoadable Content. This is extra content that was not included in the purchase of the original game. In the SSB series, players have to pay for DLC, but it is not a reoccurring subscription. Characters are added to the SSB games through DLC. The DLC characters available as of October 13, 2019 ARE counted in my gender analysis.
That’s enough preamble. Thanks for taking the time to review my project. Enjoy!