First Impressions: Effects of Representation on Video Game Covers


  • Daniel Gardner
  • Shanley Corvite


Representation in games, paratext, player experience, player perspectives


This study presents findings about perceptions and impacts of representation on video game covers. Our analysis contributes to a growing discourse on representation in games and media, to urge designers and researchers alike to consider how perceptions and feelings related to representation begin, and influence interaction, before gameplay starts. We analyzed 298 responses to a survey that asked how participants felt about representation on samples of digital covers from Steam’s best-selling games from 2010-2015, and how those feelings affect their game consumption or purchases. Although our findings describe a consensus on a lack of adequate representation of characters of color, they identify significantly different perspectives, feelings, experiences, and practices related to games, covers, and representation between participants of color and white participants. Our analysis highlights how publishers must not only consider how they include diverse identities in games but communicate that inclusion beyond them.





@Conference{digra1924, title ="First Impressions: Effects of Representation on Video Game Covers", year = "2023", author = "Gardner, Daniel and Corvite, Shanley", publisher = "DiGRA", address = "Tampere", howpublished = "\url{}", booktitle = "Conference Proceedings of DiGRA 2023 Conference: Limits and Margins of Games Settings"}